<p>I recently read an article about how the media is being too quick to report on the decline of golf. The article mentioned three areas that directed the media to make the assumptions about the golf industry. First, it mentioned sales are down in the equipment area and have been for several years. Second, the massive release of all the golf teaching pros at Dick’s Sporting Goods hurt the industry. Third, the number of golf course closings at the rate of 150+ per year.</p><p>Now, have all of these things had an impact on the golf industry? Absolutely. Golfers are not purchasing equipment and at the rate new equipment comes on the market, out-dating last year’s models, customers are not happy with having to upgrade every year. Dick’s firing of the golf pros was a blow as well but you cannot expect these instructors to maintain their positions when sales are down, not enough people are taking up the game, so there’s very few people to instruct. In fact, more people are leaving the game than coming to the game according to the National Golf Foundation, thereby, teaching pros don’t have any new students to teach and the old ones aren’t coming back either.</p><p>Finally, courses are closing. They are closing not just because there were too many (which is a factor), but because no one is playing rounds, no one is taking up the game, the fees are too high, and the time to play a round is too long. However, the article says it’s a good thing courses are closing so the remaining courses can meet the “increased” supply and raise their greens fees. So now, with that thinking, we would have less courses, higher greens fees, more golfers on the course, and rounds taking 5-6 hours. The article and the industry are missing the point. The industry needs <strong>POSITIVE VISIBILITY AND MARKETING</strong>. Golf also needs to put <strong>EMOTION</strong> back into the game. Here’s what I mean.</p><p>Golf courses need to market themselves better. Can building shorter courses help? Maybe, but in the long run, the longer courses are here to stay and they need to do a better job. And who cares if you build shorter courses. The players aren’t there to play them because they have been already turned off of the game. Golf courses need to have <em>all-day 9-hole fees</em>. Not just after a certain time but all the time. Golfers will enjoy a quick 2-2.5 hour round and with still much of the day left, rather than spend 5-6 hours getting frustrated, tired, and irritated. We don’t need to be raising greens fees to exclude people, but make it more affordable for the regular guy to come and play a quick nine holes. I bet courses would much rather have someone playing 9 holes for, let’s say, $20-$25, than no one playing for $30-$35.</p><p>Next, we <strong>MUST</strong> begin to teach the game differently. For the past 50+ years, the average golf score has not changed. Yet, we continue to teach the game the same way, with the same approach to lessons which leads to frustration levels increasing, golfers seeing no real improvement and golfers leaving the game. Golf teaching professionals need to become <strong><em>Golf Coaching Professionals</em></strong>. There needs to be more consistent interaction between coach and student and not just a lesson to lesson approach. Instructors need to coach their students towards improvement and not just give a lesson, some drills, and send them on their way and hope for the best.</p><p>Finally, golf needs a professional league where our juniors, young adults, and older players have local pros to cheer for. In most cases, many golfers will never lay eyes on a “touring pro” because they don’t live close enough to a course where they may be holding an event. They can watch it on TV, but there’s really not much of an impact or connection. How much of an impact or connection would it have on a fan to see great golf on a weekly basis in their hometown? There are hundreds of deserving, talented golfers who will never have the chance to even <strong>TRY</strong> to go pro because of the money it takes to just qualify for the current tour. There’s nothing for them to look forward to; nothing to spark their emotions for turning pro. However, if there was a professional team in the area where that fan could go and watch outstanding match-play golf, it would have an impact and that fan could really become connected to that pro player. All the other sports do it. Why not golf.</p><p>The reality is golf <strong>IS</strong> in a decline. People are not playing, new golfers are not coming, and current golfers are just leaving. Even with all the unbelievable negative press coming from domestic abuse in football, steroids in baseball, and attitudes in basketball, millions of people still fill the venues to watch these players and the games. Meanwhile, for golf, we just settle in on the couch, layout the snacks, and watch the tour event on TV for a while until we switch over to HGTV because it’s more interesting and holds our attention. <strong><em>Golf needs to bring some emotion back into the game!</em></strong></p><p>We need to get people off the couch and out to the course to see their local pro team play, get inspired and come out to play the following week themselves. We need to have some positive role models for our juniors to see every week so they can get excited about the game and start taking up this life-long sport. Bringing team play to local courses is a win for the course, a win for the players, a win for the fans, a win for the community, and a win for the game.</p><p>I want to cheer on a team just like I cheered in my room during the Ryder Cup. Yes, the US lost, but there were times during those matches where I was up on my feet screaming at the TV. How great would it be to have the opportunity to see that kind of emotion every week? How cool would it be to be up on my feet screaming at a great putt at a live event? The time is now. Golf needs it NOW! Let’s bring better teaching, affordable courses, and Team Golf to our community and watch the game evolve!</p>
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