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At what point will the decline of golf be irreversible...

 melo ·  
melomelo Members  2185WRX Points: 153Posts: 2,185 Platinum Tees
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I've been reading recently about the impact of millennial habits, cost of living/economic issues, and time constraints or time preferences on industries. Data seems to show that golf is, or will be, one of the most severely impacted industries by these changes. Some data I have read suggests that 83% of regular golfers are over 40, without about 37% of all golfers being over 60. Clearly, even with the increases in life expectancy, golf can't be sustained as the older generations die off. As they pass, that's about 10 million regular, loyal golfers that need to be replaced...so my question is...at what point are we unable to reverse the trend? And what can we do to to attract more loyal golfers from those who are under 39?
Posted:
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Comments

  • Matt JMatt J Members  8735WRX Points: 340Posts: 8,735 Titanium Tees
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    Ebb and flow. Golf will survive. Must remember data is after the huge Tiger surge and a huge recession. There were too many courses, soon there will be too few.
    Posted:
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  • nbg352nbg352 Members  8320WRX Points: 141Handicap: 8.6Posts: 8,320 Titanium Tees
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    Every old golfer is soon enough replaced by a young golfer.<br />
    If there is decline, it will be gradual.
    Posted:
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  • HawkeyeHackerHawkeyeHacker Members  35WRX Points: 33Posts: 35 Bunkers
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    Golf's been around for hundreds of years. Millennials (which I am) won't kill it. They'll play more as they get older. Since millennials are the largest generation maybe golf will be bigger than ever when as this generation comes of age.
    Posted:
  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and SouthwestMembers  16991WRX Points: 1,080Handicap: 4-5Posts: 16,991 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Aug 22, 2017 #5
    When I was in my 20-30's I was around golf but didn't play, and single. Few people played golf because of cost, family demands as well as business demands. The same is true today. My 20 something millennial son and his friends seldom play golf for the same reasons youth didn't play back in my 20's, etc. If the youth golfer turn out in PGA and LPGA youth golf events, even in Pro tournament gallery's are any indication, it confirms my belief. Ebb and flow.
    Posted:
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  • kgeisler13kgeisler13 ClubWRX  416WRX Points: 69Handicap: 6Posts: 416 ClubWRX
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    I think golf courses and golf clubs are way to expensive for the average golfer. My friends that play golf 1 a week, buy used or year old equipment thats on sale. I am a golf nut so I do not mind paying big bucks for some equipment or nice course as long as I have the money. Also I am very blessed that my work pays for my country club membership. If I was a not a member of a club I would probably only be able to 2 times and barely hit balls because of the cost of golf. I get it you can find cheap golf course but if you want a decent course they can cost anywhere from 40 to 65 dollars on weekends. I get it you have to keep up maintenance on the whole property but I think some courses have some super inflated rates for the course they offer. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    I do find that if people have the money or a hook up at a course they start to play the game after college if a parent or grandparent introduced to them some time in life. Its a game you can play for life.
    Posted:
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  • SixtySomePingSixtySomePing Members  5346WRX Points: 2,838Posts: 5,346 Titanium Tees
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    Just a quick food for thought.... when I was a kid, like 55 years ago, we played baseball, in leagues all summer, at school, or in the streets. We went to the minor league games in my town, we watched baseball even on Saturday afternoons...<br />
    <br />
    This last weekend I played in a company golf tournament, I'm 66, I have no plans to quit as you can play golf all your life. There are young people in our company playing, some brand new to golf. My grandson is learning to play, the local schools have golf teams, for boys and girls, these didn't exist when I went to school. The Solheim Cup attracted many including young ladies, as well as the PGA this year, let alone all the youth programs for golf.<br />
    <br />
    We went on a 90 minute flight Saturday night with our son (he flys a small plane) and I looked down and saw many golf courses with lots of players on them. I also saw lots of empty baseball diamonds, some were city diamonds with 4 fields. When I was young those would have been packed... whew, hope I can get this posted before I die off.. <img src='http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /><br />
    <br />
    All I'm saying is golf to me seems to be flourishing... at what point will the decline in baseball be irreversible?
    Posted:
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  • 300e300e Members  9WRX Points: 55Posts: 9 Bunkers
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    While I would agree that golf won't die, the current state of the industry is in a very poor place. In my twenties, at the height of the boom my group and I would routinely log 80 rounds per year,and while getting a tee time could be difficult, the conditions were excellent and all was good. My game took a backseat when I started a family and got more involved with my kids sports as a coach and volunteer. Those days are quickly closing, and I've returned to playing again and frankly the value proposition, for public golf anyway is exceedingly poor. <br />
    <br />
    On the one hand I have a local who in the past was always hailed as a top flight track, but now is poorly maintained and had many course features removed to, ya know "speed up play." I take a little pity in that greens fees at this course have not increased in the last fifteen years, and depending on when you play, have even backtracked. Tough place for them to be.<br />
    <br />
    On the other hand, I decided to pay a little more this past weekend and went to a nice track that has continued to keep up most of their maintenance. Unfortunately they stack the course so tight that my 2:30PM tee time was not going to allow me to finish by sundown. When I hit the 13th tee, and saw four groups stacked up, and noting I'd been playing for four hours already, I left. I had attempted to get a rain check at the turn, but was met with a resounding "no." Staffing was minimal as I had to search out somebody in the clubhouse to inquire regarding the rain check, the starter had no idea if any of the groups in front of us had dropped out or plodded on, and not a ranger to be seen all day. <br />
    <br />
    I'm looking at going the club route. I don't have confidence the public golf industry is anywhere near settling out for the benefit of all.
    Posted:
  • FergusonFerguson Members  5999WRX Points: 3,503Handicap: 7.0Posts: 5,999 Titanium Tees
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    Tiger was a staple of American Sports, not just golf. IMO the damage is done. <br />
    Trying to anticipate what the Millennials will do is tough. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    Will there be a rebirth? <br />
    If The Tiger returns - yes.<br />
    If he does not - maybe. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    Will golf ever reach the peak again to the level of play during the Tiger Era?<br />
    No, never, never.
    Posted:
  • HatsForBatsHatsForBats Members  2019WRX Points: 290Handicap: 7Posts: 2,019 Platinum Tees
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    Maybe when instead of nearly 70% of high school students attending college we go back to a more normal 50% (USA)? With the price of college these days that has to be sucking a large amount out of the disposable spending for kids these days. After the boom of not only golf but the falsely inflated real estate industry it seems like a normal correction. Not time to panic yet though I am sure some are finding a way to make a decent buck out of spreading fear.
    Posted:
  • John9213John9213 Members  73WRX Points: 1Posts: 73 Bunkers
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    In my opinion, I don't see golf slowing down much at all. I played when I was 10-15 years old and was hooked. Wanted to join the tour one day and play at the elite level. But my school did not have a golf team and there wasn't any options in the area for younger players so I lost interest and continued with baseball. Now that I picked the game back up in my late twenties, I see a lot of guys my age on the course. My high school now has a very successful golf team as does most of the other schools in the area and I see these youngsters out all the time. <br />
    Golf for a lot of players is a social experience. The teeneager to early 20s crowd doesn't have a great showing on the courses because most people in those age groups are tied up with school, work, other sports and chasing the opposite **** around. But as you move into your late twenties, most of those same people have careers and their lives have slowed down from the bar scene and look towards other venues for fun. That's where golf comes in. <br />
    I loved baseball and wish I could continue with it but I didn't have the skill level. Golf is something I can play for the rest of my life and have fun doing so! Will I ever make the tour, highly doubtful. But I'll be out there every chance I can, spending money on new gear, and enjoying my time with friends and family. Some of my most successful business deals have come on the golf course and that's just the cherry on top of this game. A happen chance pair up with an individual and by the 19th hole, we've struck a deal that is lucrative for the both of us. These reasons are why I don't see golf disappearing anytime soon.
    Posted:
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  • Mario Good TimesMario Good Times Members  504WRX Points: 78Posts: 504 Golden Tee
    Joined:  edited Aug 21, 2017 #13
    Golf needs a Mia Hamm of the golf works to spark the little girls in America to come out. That will start a small spark, little girls soccer is booming, golf can boom with the little girls on a smaller scale also. Golf has its problems with growth, money, equipment but getting interest from the young ones is key. <br />
    <br />
    One huge problem golf has, and I'm seeing miner improvements over the last 5 years is equipment. A lot of non hard core players buying clubs from the golf shops, (local courses, golfsmith,Golf galaxy, dicks etc) and don't have a clue about swing weights, flexes, lie, loft and so on. I'm hoping more custom fittings and education of these things can really help golf for its future. Golf equipment is to expensive to not have what's right for each individual player.
    Posted:
  • uitar9uitar9 Members  475WRX Points: 130Handicap: LOLPosts: 475 Greens
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    At least its not going the way of newsprint and paper backs. LOL<br />
    <br />
    Golf courses-I'm only 6 years into golf and I'm 64. From what I've seen and read, golf really took off with the advent of the likes of Palmer/Nicklaus and color TV, (isn't that why every US course looks so green) then really prodded by the likes of Tiger. Pre boomers chugged along with the courses they had. Course Building took off exponentially, golf flourished, now boomers are passing and I suppose a number of courses will fail/close. Lack of money to keep up maintenance, lack of players. Private courses are already starting to get innovative with share purchase/annual/monthly fees to try and get younger folks. Theoretically, older, kid free millennials will possibly create another boom, possibly even taking up golf. Some Courses may/will fail until they are picked up cheap enough to succeed as golf courses or the developer picks them up cheap and the bulldozer turns them into something else<br />
    <br />
    Where I live, My wife and I play weekly, usually on the same muni course. We see no change.<br />
    <br />
    Golf equipment manufacturing appears to be a whole different perspective. Short life products like three taylormade drivers a year can compete for only so long. <br />
    <br />
    Golf vacation Industry etc etc etc.<br />
    <br />
    Every industry will have ebbs and flows. Some industry's will disappear. Playing golf appears to have a bit of history and may hang around in some form. lol
    Posted:
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  • cwglumcwglum Members  1588WRX Points: 163Posts: 1,588 Platinum Tees
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    Local tournaments in our area are being affected. When I started playing events 10-12yrs ago, there were participants in their 20's through 50's and up. <br />
    <br />
    Now that I'm in my 40's, I don't see very many younger entries into the events. Very rarely see a new face around, mostly the same group of guys at each event. The next group of 20-30 somethings aren't in many events in our area.
    Posted:
  • melomelo Members  2185WRX Points: 153Posts: 2,185 Platinum Tees
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    Thank you all for your opinions and insights. I see a couple of trends in the posts...<br />
    <br />
    Some people don't think golf is really declining, or at least nothing other than a typical ebb and flow.<br />
    <br />
    Others of you think the cost of playing/equipment/etc is affecting play<br />
    <br />
    Some of you think courses will close.<br />
    <br />
    Do any of you think the following things are disrupting the market?<br />
    <br />
    The length of time it takes to play (not whether it takes 4 hours or 4:30, I simply mean the fact that it takes anywhere over 2 hours to play)<br />
    <br />
    The difficulty of learning and playing well<br />
    <br />
    The cost of lessons/instruction and lack of access to quality practice facilities?
    Posted:
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  • dbleagdbleag Members  2955WRX Points: 188Posts: 2,955 Titanium Tees
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    Golf will always flourish for the older crowd - what other game/sport can you play for exercise as you age that won't give you a heart attack.<br />
    <br />
    For kids, I'm not sure if golf is strong enough to compete with their mobile devices. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    Excuse me, I have to go take a selfie of me taking a selfie and put it on Instagram.
    Posted:
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  • sailfishchrissailfishchris Long Island NYMembers, ClubWRX  1116WRX Points: 300Handicap: 4Posts: 1,116 Platinum Tees
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    I see golf becoming lawn darts ....an underground sport too dangerous for most to play. You'll have to borrow your grandfather's clubs to play in a few years to even play. LOL!
    Posted:
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  • 2putttom2putttom # 1 Oregon Duck fan Members  10322WRX Points: 571Handicap: 12Posts: 10,322 Titanium Tees
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    dbleag wrote:
    <br />
    Golf will always flourish for the older crowd - what other game/sport can you play for exercise as you age that won't give you a heart attack.<br />
    <br />
    For kids, I'm not sure if golf is strong enough to compete with their mobile devices.<br />
    <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    Excuse me, I have to go take a selfie of me taking a selfie and put it on Instagram.<br />
    <img src='http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheesy.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':cheesy:' /> ..... x 10
    Posted:
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  • azkaevolutionazkaevolution Members  806WRX Points: 58Posts: 806 Golden Tee
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    i know courses aren't quite laid out for this...but my proposal to get new players into the game (or bring back ones who have left), is to start breaking courses up into 6 hole blocks that people can play in combination...for me, I tend to play 9 holes at a time (time constraints), but sometimes that isn't quite enough. if one could book a tee time for 6 holes and take an hour out of their day, i think it would be helpful. have a little more time? play 12. want to go the full 18? or play 24? 30? 36? all options on the table.
    Posted:
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  • MrJonesMrJones Waiting for the weekend... Members  2724WRX Points: 6Handicap: 6.3Posts: 2,724 Titanium Tees
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    Yesterday as I was finishing my round the kids Drive, Chip and Putt Championship was having a qualifying sectional. It was cool to see all those kids out there and excited for the game.<br />
    <br />
    One thing I've noticed personally is that parents tend to push their athletically inclined kids into sports like football, baseball, basketball, ect. that take up a lot of the kids time with practice and game play. Golf ends up being something they take up later because of it.<br />
    <br />
    I'd give anything to go back and start playing when I was a kid.
    Posted:
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  • FergusonFerguson Members  5999WRX Points: 3,503Handicap: 7.0Posts: 5,999 Titanium Tees
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    MARKET DISRUPTION:<br />
    <br />
    <br />
    The length of time it takes to play (not whether it takes 4 hours or 4:30, I simply mean the fact that it takes anywhere over 2 hours to play)<br />
    Nope. The vast majority of golfers know that it takes ~10-15 minutes to play a hole. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    The difficulty of learning and playing well<br />
    Nope. The vast majority of golfers know that getting good at anything takes time and practice.<br />
    <br />
    <br />
    The cost of lessons/instruction and lack of access to quality practice facilities?<br />
    Nope. The vast majority of golfers know that it takes a reasonable investment to play well. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    Our society is shifting from the mentality of hard work + dedication = dividends to one of if I can’t tap my phone and make it happen in 15 minutes, I can’t be bothered.
    Posted:
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  • Conrad1953Conrad1953 Members  15697WRX Points: 4,571Posts: 15,697 Titanium Tees
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    Look at what people invested to see a 3 minute solar eclipse. They<br />
    can get a lot of 5 hour rounds for that, lol. Golf will be fine.
    Posted:

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  • JeffreySpicoliJeffreySpicoli Members  1957WRX Points: 471Posts: 1,957 Platinum Tees
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    Narratives of decline are wonderful blank canvases on which one can project their anxieties. Add in a little fetishization and you've got a heady brew.
    Posted:
  • rangersgoalierangersgoalie Members  1947WRX Points: 447Posts: 1,947 Platinum Tees
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    Old guy observations<br />
    I used to play pick up baseball, basketball, street hockey all the time<br />
    When ponds froze, head to the pond and join a shinny game<br />
    Combo of touch/ tackle football after baseball season <br />
    <br />
    And we waited til the big hand reached the 12 at 2pm and teed off in groups to play <br />
    <br />
    Now, I see organized practices, play dates, and little of the justbplay I was blessed to do as a child<br />
    <br />
    At the parks near my home the only time I see kids say, on the baseball field is with a dad or coach working on something. Rarely if ever see kids just playing. <br />
    <br />
    Lessons, tournaments, practicing etc are where I see most kids at our course. <br />
    <br />
    All sports have devolved into a hopeful scholarship opportunity instead of a game to PLAY, and it is getting too time consuming and expensive in part because we want kids to compete all the time, not just in golf, but most youth sports
    Posted:
  • CMCSGolfCMCSGolf Members  650WRX Points: 167Posts: 650 Golden Tee
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    As many people have noted, what's the big deal if golf declines a little bit? Since only a few of us make money on the game, it really shouldn't be a big deal if there are 10 or 20% fewer golfers. Some courses might close and an equipment company might go out of business, but we'll all still have plenty of great places to play.<br />
    <br />
    I think the desire to "grow the game" largely comes from people making money on it and the organizations in charge. Do train enthusiasts or Birders or stamp collectors constantly worry about the number of young people enjoying their hobby? I'm sure everyone would like other people to find their past time interesting and should share it with young people if the opportunity exists, but a change in young people's preferences will not mean the end of golf.
    Posted:
  • GoredohGoredoh Members  8WRX Points: 0Handicap: 9.1Posts: 8
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    One thing that has worked very well at my club is age brackets for membership a Junior has a membership of 600 dollars AU a year for a 7 day playing rights which is from the age bracket of 18-26 then there is a younger membership 26-30 which is 1200 AU a year and gradually goes up to where you might have a more stable income to afford the costs. it gives a way of younger members not getting reemed by costs and getting to enjoy a decent private club.<br />
    <br />
    Also my club is built on an estate and residents have to pay a membership like most i believe, Also the course is open to the public on sundays and other various times. The club is booming at the moment and has alot of younger members like myself.
    Posted:
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  • melomelo Members  2185WRX Points: 153Posts: 2,185 Platinum Tees
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    Conrad1953 wrote:
    <br />
    Look at what people invested to see a 3 minute solar eclipse. They<br />
    can get a lot of 5 hour rounds for that, lol. Golf will be fine.<br />
    <br />
    <br />
    People spent a fortune on the eclipse because it is a once in a couple of generations, or even once in a lifetime event depending where you live. Golf is not the same.
    Posted:
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  • melomelo Members  2185WRX Points: 153Posts: 2,185 Platinum Tees
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    CMCSGolf wrote:
    <br />
    As many people have noted, what's the big deal if golf declines a little bit? Since only a few of us make money on the game, it really shouldn't be a big deal if there are 10 or 20% fewer golfers. Some courses might close and an equipment company might go out of business, but we'll all still have plenty of great places to play.<br />
    <br />
    I think the desire to "grow the game" largely comes from people making money on it and the organizations in charge. Do train enthusiasts or Birders or stamp collectors constantly worry about the number of young people enjoying their hobby? I'm sure everyone would like other people to find their past time interesting and should share it with young people if the opportunity exists, but a change in young people's preferences will not mean the end of golf.<br />
    <br />
    The concern is not if golf declines a little bit, it is what if golf declines a LOT. As others have mentioned, there are ebbs and flows. But a dramatically decreased customer base leads to lots of courses closing and the other courses having to increase rates dramatically if they can't fill the tee sheets. We have all seen the impact on lower and mid level private clubs the past few years
    Posted:
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  • bigchucksrbigchucksr Members  313WRX Points: 53Handicap: 16Posts: 313 Greens
    Joined:  #30
    I don't know where you live but at my home course we could use some "dying"! We are overrun with younger and younger players--their wives and their children. I'm not sure what management has done to increase membership but we are absolutely flooded with younger golfers. Two years ago I could go to the course about 4:00p.m. any Saturday or Sunday and have the place to myself--it was wonderful.<br />
    Not this summer! Matter of fact I went out today, eclipse Monday thinking the working crowd would be working--it was, all afternoon, one steady group after another.<br />
    Actually, I am quite pleased--particularly seeing a cart full of pre-teen kids and their parents, both boys and girls--it is quite common now and ten years ago you never saw families playing golf here--swimming and tennis, yes but rarely golf.<br />
    So, some places, like my club are having a banner year.
    Posted:
  • GolfWRXGolfWRX Warning Points: 0  11 Members Posts: 11 #ad
    Joined:  ...

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  • tatertottatertot Members  4621WRX Points: 938Posts: 4,621 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  #31
    Golf has always been for older folks ... Golf wants to go younger to grab more advertising $. It worked when Tiger grabbed their imagination. <br />
    <br />
    Now we're back to the norm. As old golfers die, young people get old, and become golfers. It's a cycle.
    Posted:
    Driver: TaylorMade M3, 10.5*
    Fairway: Adams Fast 10, 15*
    Hybrid: Adams Idea Tech A4, 19*
    5-GW: Titleist 718 AP1, 24*-48*
    SW: Ping Glide ES, 56*
    Putter: Ping Classic Stainless Steel Anser 2
    Ball: Srixon Z-Star
    Bag: Ping Mascot
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