In case you missed the Hack Golf pop up in the NY times… It was a great little read about the state of the game and the movement that’s happening to both grow and potentially save the game of golf.
The current situation in the US via the National Golf Foundation is bleak:
- Golf has lost five million players in the last decade.
- 20 percent of the existing 25 million golfers are likely to quit in the next few years.
- People under 35 are turned off by the game – why? the game takes too long/it’s too difficult to learn/there are too many rules
We’re not immune from these issues in Canada – The 2012 NAGA: Canadian Golf Consumer Study sounded the alarm bells on the opportunity to reach and engage Canadian golfers.
- 4.2 million golfers are at risk to leave the game with 2.2M deemed to be infrequent golfers and another 2M as occasional golfers.
- This at risk group accounts for 74% of the effective population
So where do we go from here?
Not all is lost, the good news is that the first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem.
“We’ve got to stop scaring people away from golf by telling them that there is only one way to play the game and it includes these specific guidelines,” said Ted Bishop, the president of the P.G.A. of America. “We’ve got to offer more forms of golf for people to try. We have to do something to get them into the fold, and then maybe they’ll have this idea it’s supposed to be fun.”
Discussions are ongoing on how to enable golfers and remove barriers to the game of golf. Potential ideas impact all areas of the current golf experience and include:
- using a 15-inch hole for entry-level golf
- evaluating how we introduce players to the game
- making golf more accessible by lowering costs (equipment, green fees and instruction)
- applying a separate set of rules for those that only choose to play casually
This is only the beginning, over at HackGolf.org they have >1300 ideas and >2400 participants crowdsourced to work on diagnosing the “fun problem”.
The other good news is that the pro’s are onside to help grow the game. Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose were recently at an event featuring the proposed 15-inch-hole and the reviews were fantastic.
“A 15-inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more,” said Mr. García, who shot a six-under-par 30 for nine holes in the exhibition.
Mr. Rose said he was planning to use an expanded hole to reintroduce the game to his 5-year-old son, who rejected the game recently after he had tired of failing at it.
“Lately, I’ve been having a hard time getting him to pick up a club,” Mr. Rose said.
Enter The Purists & The Traditionalists – 15-inch-hole? play a quick 12? non-conforming equipment? different rules to govern “regular” golfers? It might sound like a scary proposition and change can be difficult to accept but we’re going to need everyone to join in because based on the current state of the game… it’s going to require a team effort.
So it looks like we’re on the edge of a tipping point for golf. Like it or not, little things can make a big difference. So stand up and make sure that you are accounted for because I think overdue meaningful change is on the way to the great game of golf.