Golf participation is down…is golf expensive, elitist or just behind the times?

Golf Participation

Golf Participation is down, why?

Golf is a sport that has long remained the same…. however with a recent golf survey showing that golf participation is down, we ask the question, is golf expensive and an elitist sport?

We know golf is a game, that appears from the outside, to be very difficult to understand, yet, those who are in the seemingly so-called ‘elitist golfing circle’, simply can’t understand why this is the case.

Whilst it feels that other sports have progressed and moved with the times, golf has got somewhat stuck in its ways.

The bad news is whatever the case, the number of golfers is declining. A study that was carried out in 2012 on behalf of the National Allied Golf Associations showed that the growth had stagnated, with an equal number of people entering and leaving the game. Fast-forward to 2015 and that has continued…

They released a report last year (2014) that should the number of rounds played had gone from 28,700 in 2008, to 26,100 in 2013. This is a considerable decline, but determining why this is might be harder than it seems.

Why is golf participation down?

A lot of the problems that golf faces is that it is struggling to attract younger players. Where football and for example, rugby, is offered in schools from an early age, and is much publicised on television; golf isn’t.

Not only this, but research carried out at the University of South Australia uncovered that children across the world are less aerobically fit than they were thirty years ago. This could be down to the fact that computer games have replaced outdoor games, which has also drastically affected this generation’s attention span.

Golf is a sport that requires a lot of work, and the above reports would suggest that the younger generation just does not have the patience for the game.

It doesn’t help that many of the world’s top players are out of reach to the average golfer, whereas it’s no problem visiting a football club to watch the Rooneys and Ronaldos of this world play.

It could be that golf participation is down as golf fans are limited to possibly only one or two tournaments a year to watch their favourites play, therefore reducing those players’ exposure to the next generation.

Is golf too expensive?

Golf IS considered an expensive sport to play….

When you include the cost of a membership at a club plus all of the equipment,  it can be completely overwhelming for an amateur, and the cost of it all can be off-putting for someone who just wanted to make a hobby from the sport.

A survey carried out in 2009 by American Golfer suggested that the average golfer will spend around $2, 776 per year, which is just under two thousand pounds. An open forum suggested nearly double that amount.

That is a lot of money that many people will not be able to justify spending; however, the majority of this is spent on equipment, which would suggest that this amount could decline annually.

Many online retailers have started offering great deals on golf equipment, and discounted items, to help those with a smaller budget. There are also public courses that anyone can play that do not require the cost of a membership.

However, the fact that it costs a lot more than other sports to take up initially, essentially immediately cuts out a large chunk of the population, making it appear elitist.

Golf Participation

Encouraging the next generation…

Is golf behind the times?

It is perhaps unfair to suggest that golf is behind with the times and that we must just accept that the younger generation is essentially getting lazier and unfit, when, it might be more effective to encourage the younger generation to take up a sport and put down their video game controllers.

Although golf may, from an outsider’s viewpoint appear to be elitist, and to a certain extent you could argue it is, it is argued that it’s merely traditional, and there are ways for everyone to enjoy the sport that do not mean having to spend a fortune.

All sports require a ‘set-up fee’ with regard to clothing and equipment, but to suggest that golf discriminates against others because of this is unjust. These days it’s easy to enjoy the sport at the local range and plenty of clubs have opened their doors to ‘Pay and Play’ golfers.

However, reducing the decline in golf participation is ultimately is the job of the governing bodies and the clubs to break with the traditions and relax some of the outdated rules.

Once this is achieved, we believe golf will once again be a sport in the ascendancy!