Is golf in the USA dying?

Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,084 ✭✭
The number of rounds of golf played declined 4.8% last year while the total population continued to increase. So, what is happening? Is golf in the USA dying a slow death?



Looking at the state by state breakdown doesn't produce any answers either. TN down 12%, OR up 5%. WI down 12%. WA up 8.7%.



https://www.thengfq.com/2019/01/december-2018-national-rounds-played/?utm_source=ngf&utm_medium=QC&utm_campaign=Feb19&ID=



Click on the map to see the details.
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  • broth518broth518 Channel 5 News Team Member Members Posts: 927
    edited Feb 28, 2019 5:39pm #2
    Nope, Nope and nope.... I think some areas are the country are less than others but saying is golf dying in USA is far fetched.



    Courses are packed in NJ and you can't even get tee times.
  • billh17billh17 just happy to play Members Posts: 2,844 ✭✭
    If it is,it has to be due to SLOW PLAY !

    no other reason....
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  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,084 ✭✭
    broth518 wrote:


    Nope, Nope and nope.... I think some areas are the country are less than others but saying is golf dying in USA is far fetched.



    Courses are packed in NJ and you can't even get tee times.




    And yet rounds played in NJ were down 10.3% last year.
  • nbg352nbg352 Members Posts: 8,320 ✭✭
    Seasonal Weather could be a factor in the ups and downs.......
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  • Nard_SNard_S Members Posts: 3,123 ✭✭
    Boomers are the anchor of the industry. Long term there's a problem. Until they are all in diapers and wheel chairs, no.



    Also the economy is healthier. The main reason my round count is down in last 2 years is I 'm busier with work. Good problem.
  • SixtySomePingSixtySomePing Members Posts: 5,065 ✭✭
    I was thinking it was not about golf dying but the impact of weather on golf, no? The article the article references...

    https://www.thengfq.com/2019/01/weather-to-play/
  • GoGoErkyGoGoErky Members Posts: 1,071 ✭✭
    Last year was very wet along the east coast which affected the number of rounds. In the dc area it rained every third day and every other Saturday
  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaMembers Posts: 8,971 ✭✭


    I was thinking it was not about golf dying but the impact of weather on golf, no? The article the article references...

    https://www.thengfq....eather-to-play/


    This x 1000.

    Year vs previous year comparisons are so obviously pointless - in helping to answer some tired trope - in an activity so beholden to the weather.



    Give us 2008 to 2018 and then maybe a conversation can be had.
  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,084 ✭✭
    duffer987 wrote:



    I was thinking it was not about golf dying but the impact of weather on golf, no? The article the article references...

    https://www.thengfq....eather-to-play/


    This x 1000.

    Year vs previous year comparisons are so obviously pointless - in helping to answer some tired trope - in an activity so beholden to the weather.



    Give us 2008 to 2018 and then maybe a conversation can be had.




    Do you have that data?
  • Hawkeye77Hawkeye77 Countdown to The Masters! ClubWRX Posts: 17,393 ClubWRX
    The intro to the article itself says it was weather. Upper Midwest had one of the worst seasons for rain and bad weather ever - ruined a lot of golf course years last summer. 4.8% decline with weather as the primary identified factor just doesn't seem to be a call to bring out your golf dead.
  • straightshot7straightshot7 Members Posts: 2,925 ✭✭
    1 year is a small sample size.
  • TNGolfer8TNGolfer8 Members Posts: 246 ✭✭
    nbg352 wrote:


    Seasonal Weather could be a factor in the ups and downs.......


    I definitely believe this is a large part of it. For a good number of years, I played year round in TN. The last 3-4 years have seen much colder temps and lots of rain. The last couple of years the courses have not tried out well until May.
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  • augustgolfaugustgolf Golf with dignity Coastal NCMembers Posts: 3,891 ✭✭
    For my input - where I live, we received 2.5 times the annual rainfall from average. Each year for the 5 years before - as well as this year to day - we have fallen behind on the amount of rain received.



    If I rememember correctly, there were no hurricanes in Washington state, or Oregon, but we had a major hurricane affect the entire east coast, plus multiple tropical storms not categorized as hurricanes, but bringing torrential amounts of rains.



    I won't say that golf in America is doing handsprings, but data does show that the number of course closings has greatly dropped, most likely due to the fact that we are reaching a balancing point, where the drop in golfers is becoming matched to the drop in golf courses.



    The growth of new courses has also slowed, again, I believe, as a result of the realignment of facilities vs players.



    Final statement: if you ain't doing something to make golf "better" - you aren't helping the situation at all.



    The responsibility golfers have to keep the game growing is greater than in other sports. And I mean recreational golf - the tours will always seem to go on, but - start a kid out in golf today, and see what happens. If every golfer in the US did that this year, we could double the number of players. Doesn't seem all that hard to me.
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  • dpb5031dpb5031 Members Posts: 5,029 ✭✭
    The baby boomer generation hitting their peak earning years and enjoying unprecedented prosperity as family units moved from a single earner model to a dual income model fueled the extraordinary growth of the game starting in the early 90s. Subsequent generations with the exception of Millennials have been incapable of filling that void in large part due to their generational populations simply being significantly smaller.



    Millennials have the population to drive growth, but have not shown as much of an interest in the game so far. It is yet to be seen if they'll take to the game en masse as their disposable incomes increase. Seems that Millennials are far from traditionalists, so it will be interesting to see how it all evolves, particularly the private club model.
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  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,084 ✭✭
    augustgolf wrote:


    Final statement: if you ain't doing something to make golf "better" - you aren't helping the situation at all.



    The responsibility golfers have to keep the game growing is greater than in other sports. And I mean recreational golf - the tours will always seem to go on, but - start a kid out in golf today, and see what happens. If every golfer in the US did that this year, we could double the number of players. Doesn't seem all that hard to me.




    Why do you feel responsible for growing the game? If fewer people want to play golf, why is that a problem?
  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,084 ✭✭


    1 year is a small sample size.




    This is true and I can't find much historical data. I did find the December 2017 data from the OP website.



    2017 was down 2.7% compared to 2016.



    Then I found this from December 2017:



    " The net is that the industry has given back the gains from the prior two years, which were up 1.8% and 0.6%, respectively – resulting in a relatively stable number of rounds played over the last several years."





    https://www.thengfq.com/2018/01/december-2017-national-rounds-played/



    So, here is what I have found;



    2015: Up 1.8%

    2016: Up 0.6%

    2017: Down 2.7%

    2018: Down 4.8%
  • uitar9uitar9 Members Posts: 370 ✭✭

    augustgolf wrote:


    Final statement: if you ain't doing something to make golf "better" - you aren't helping the situation at all.



    The responsibility golfers have to keep the game growing is greater than in other sports. And I mean recreational golf - the tours will always seem to go on, but - start a kid out in golf today, and see what happens. If every golfer in the US did that this year, we could double the number of players. Doesn't seem all that hard to me.




    Why do you feel responsible for growing the game? If fewer people want to play golf, why is that a problem?




    Gotta agree with you. As a boomer, my wife any I started golfing 8 years a go. Thats two more playing about 50 rounds each a year. Plus I take my millennial son out twice a year. Thats three extra golfers.lol



    Population makeup and societal changes have and always will drive industries success and failure. Korea, Japan, India (pick your country) golf is really taking off, but even there, will ebb and flow with population changes and their spending habits.



    People are getting there news in different ways-newsprint is declining

    People are getting screen entertainment in different ways-conventional television programming is declining

    Boomers are dying-the golf population is declining

    The Boomers (that pig in the python) created significant spending habits. Greed and Developers have over built residential neighbourhoods including a golf course in north america-houses don't sell, golf course closes



    There's golf, then there's the business of golf.



    The golf business has to contract until the next large pig in the python introduces more golfers. and that will be effected by screen time and attention span.



    and not speed of play. 18 Golf takes time, driving to and fro, Checking in, Playing, 19th hole. If you don't have 6 hours, do something else.



    Will 18 hole golf change-sure it will,driven by business greed to make money marketing to folks who want glitz, glitter and a one hour round
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  • third-times-a-charmthird-times-a-charm Members Posts: 1,407 ✭✭
    Come to Florida and ask me if golf is dieing after having the privilege of playing a 6 hour round for $80 with stacked tee times all day in 8 min intervals on EVERY COURSE.



    Baseball is dieing, too. Both sports aren't going anywhere though!
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  • CAT GOLFERCAT GOLFER Members Posts: 906 ✭✭
    not dying, just falling victim to the accessibility of everything else. I don't think there are as many people that "specialize" with their hobbies anymore, they just do so many more things in addition to playing golf.
  • SixcatSixcat SWVAMembers Posts: 1,421 ✭✭
    Most of the country experienced well above average precipitation in 2018. Some parts of the country, like the region where I live, shattered records for amount of precipitation in a calendar year. Calendar year 2017 was also well above average for precipitation.



    So far, 2019 hasn't improved much in that regard!
  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,084 ✭✭
    CAT GOLFER wrote:


    not dying, just falling victim to the accessibility of everything else. I don't think there are as many people that "specialize" with their hobbies anymore, they just do so many more things in addition to playing golf.




    That's an interesting thought. What hobbies other than smartphone and computer games have an increasing number of participants?
  • Bonneville85308Bonneville85308 Members Posts: 1,629 ✭✭
    I blame the rain. I have a friend in eastern PA who for years has played every single Saturday and Sunday plus at least 2 weeknights during the season without fail so long as it isn't raining and his home course is open. He told me that in 2018 he played the least number of rounds he's played in 15 years simply due to it either raining on those days or the course being flooded/closed/severely restricted due to heavy rains or flooding. He said unlike most years, it was so wet that the course never really dried out all summer, it played soft/wet with the rough growing vigorously the whole time, whereas usually in July/August it gets real firm and dried out.
  • FergusonFerguson Executive Member VAMembers Posts: 4,453 ✭✭

    CAT GOLFER wrote:


    not dying, just falling victim to the accessibility of everything else. I don't think there are as many people that "specialize" with their hobbies anymore, they just do so many more things in addition to playing golf.




    That's an interesting thought. What hobbies other than smartphone and computer games have an increasing number of participants?










    Facebook is a verb, apparently.
  • From_Parts_UnknownFrom_Parts_Unknown Members Posts: 1,797 ✭✭
    edited Mar 1, 2019 10:32am #25
    I hope it's dying. Courses around me are too crowded. Need to thin out the herd.
  • disco111disco111 Members Posts: 958 ✭✭
    I can only speak for my area and golf is not dying, but it is bleeding out. In the past 2 years, there have been 5 courses that have closed (that were news worthy because of housing developments that surrounded them). I primarily play on a military installation and if it was not for the over the hill gang, the course would most likely be closing also. Very rarely do we see any younger players in any meaningful numbers on the course or even at the driving range. Now on the other hand, the Top Golf location seemed to be doing fine, but after talking to one of the guys that work there, they have seen a steady decline in participation also. In addition, our weather is not all that conducive for year round play, so that adds to the declining factor. Also take into consideration the costs and time involved and you have a recipe for non participation. I know the being on a fixed income has reduced my playing ability, so it should stand to reason that the younger guys with families also fall prey to this obstacle.
  • GoGoErkyGoGoErky Members Posts: 1,071 ✭✭


    I blame the rain. I have a friend in eastern PA who for years has played every single Saturday and Sunday plus at least 2 weeknights during the season without fail so long as it isn't raining and his home course is open. He told me that in 2018 he played the least number of rounds he's played in 15 years simply due to it either raining on those days or the course being flooded/closed/severely restricted due to heavy rains or flooding. He said unlike most years, it was so wet that the course never really dried out all summer, it played soft/wet with the rough growing vigorously the whole time, whereas usually in July/August it gets real firm and dried out.




    It was the same in dc area
  • Timbo929Timbo929 Members Posts: 399 ✭✭
    In Los Angeles, the courses are jammed pack with 5 somes back to back from before the sun's up to twilight. This was last Saturday.
  • ChipNRunChipNRun Members Posts: 1,173 ✭✭
    Your map covers Dec. through Feb. Too much of a spot weather effect to make decisions on multi-year national trends.



    In St. Louis area, frost on ground continues until 11 AM, then it gets really cold by 3 PM. I just think a lot of people are working on Income Tax so they can play in mid-March when things warm up. Also, 20* F at dawn means no thaw all day long.



    National trends: One factor is charting impact of indoor, simulator golf. Once simulator was a cottage industry in our area, with winter leagues when snow was on ground. Now, sim traffic heavy most of the year. And, enter TopGolf in Chesterfield/West County, and sim golf is growing bigger. TopGolf = golf + night club.



    Over in Asia, golf boom in South Korea reveals that more than half of golfers are simulator players only.



    USA: Golf is continuing to right-size. Still more green-grass courses closing than opening.



    Also, look at growth in 6-hole golf courses, many of them build entirely with synthetic turf. Need a huge vacuum cleaner rather than lawn mower. With shorter Millennial attention spans, 6 holes is all some people want. (No offense meant to Millennials, it's what demographics tell us.) Also, six holes a week between occasional 18-hole rounds better than only 18 holes a month for busy people.
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  • mikpgamikpga www.mikedeitersgolf.com Members Posts: 7,347 ✭✭
    Yes...
  • MtlJeffMtlJeff MontrealMembers Posts: 28,201 ✭✭
    edited Mar 2, 2019 8:44am #31
    Dying is a strong term because I don't see golf going away anytime soon. But continue to shrink yes I could see that. It's time consuming which is the biggest challenge. Typically both parents work now and it's hard for one to be gone 6 hours on a Saturday, because than the other person gets little time on their own weekend. I think people just have less time. Cost is a factor for sure if you have kids that play sports too



    Understand the article was more about weather, but overall I believe rounds and golfers has decreased the last decade
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