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Golf is considered one of the most popular sports in the world. In the United States, a significant number of middle classes chose to play instead of other sports. The results of the Sports&Fitness Industry Association show that one of their lowest points in the years was the number of Americans who played golf in 2014. The number of young people between 18 and 30 who play the same game in the past five years has decreased by 35%. In the past decade, golf courses were the de facto playground and most people were attracted to high profile professional golfers such as Tiger Woods (Tuttle, 2014). Nevertheless, the golf business that looked unassailable in the past decade is slowly becoming less popular and many people prefer to play other sports. Companies involved in the production and sales of golf products have experienced low sales, resulting into losses. Statistics show that there has been a significant decline in the number of people participating in golf worldwide. All qualities that were used to describe golf as the most preferable sport are now working against it. This paper explains some of the reasons why participation in golf has been on the decrease in the past five years.
Why there has been a decrease in Participation in the Game of Golf
A major factor that has contributed to decreased participation in golf is the decrease in leisure time among most Americans. There is increased participation professional and occupational activities which always results into little time being allocated for leisure activities such as playing golf. Studies show that there is a decline in leisure participation among both male and female Americans (The Economist.com, 2015). There is increased participation of teens and youths in school activities which limit their participation in golf. Most people only find a few hours during the weekends to participate in golf but they may also be occupied with other activities such as attending to their gardens, performing domestic duties, or watching television. A number of people also prefer to watch golf games at home because it involves little physical activities which makes it less effective in promoting physical health. A number of people have preferred not to participate in golf because they do not want to be Tiger Woods, but only to watch him.
Some people have argued that the decrease in participation in golf is associated with its elitist and expensive nature. Some golf clubs charge attendants as high as $400 in or der to participate in golfing. This is a cost that cannot be sustained by a youth or a person in college who is trying to develop interest in the sport. Due to the high cost of attending golf matches from which one can draw inspiration, many people have associated golf with a game for those who have high incomes and not youths (Greenfield, 2015). Many youths have pursued other sports which do not require huge costs to participate in them. America and other countries around the world have undergone economic and political instabilities which have influenced the economic status of most people. Consequently, their participation in golf has been limited despite the fact that they may be willing to participate in it. It is associated with people who have adequate amounts of disposable income and less likely to be preferred by those experiencing unstable economic conditions such as low income. A number of public courses have undergone closure by state governments as a means of achieving spending cuts. Participation in golf continues to be expensive due to high charges of taking part in a golf course (Harwell, 2015). It has been suggested that the stakeholders need to reexamine their pricing policies and determine the pricing system which will attract participants into the sport. If this is not addressed, golf is likely to hemorrhage the participants of their money and it may only be afforded by the white sub-urban and rich men's niche who are sponsored by TV programs and possess large investments.
There is a developing perception that golf is not a cool game for the younger generations and it should be left for older generations. A modern kid is less patient enough to play 18 holes as required in golfing. The modern lifestyle where parents are required to remain closer to their families limit the popularity of golf which requires that one must remain in the golf course most of the time. There is also an increase in scheduled task performance among American children, teenagers and youths in the same manner as their parents. They are left with no time to regularly play golf compared with soccer, saxophone lessons, or coding practices. Those who have time to play golf prefer to perform other tasks or participation in other games such as iPhone games, computer games, and Xboxes which draw their attention (Cook, 2014). It has been suggested that a return to popularity of golf can only be achieved by creating a positive attitude toward in in the forms of scholarship opportunities for kids who show talent in playing, the availability of free lessons and playing privileges.
When golf is compared with other sports such as football or skateboarding, it is the most difficult to learn and play well. It requires long duration of training and familiarity before one acquires the skills of playing. For example snowboarding lessons can be taken in the morning or in the afternoon within a few hours and one can acquire the skills which make it easy to practice any time. Since 1990's those involved in the design of golf course have taken longer time in building courses in order to put equipment to test. The growing difficulty in the sport is contributed by its 200-page rulebook which makes it difficult to sell to new trainers or players. Golf is known as being frustratingly challenging for those beginning to play and also those who have been playing it for longer durations face the challenge of playing it competitively (Dunsmuir, 2016). The process of playing golf also involves making a number of strokes in the green which are usually not accurate and one needs to look at putts from different ways before it enters the target. Game of golf has not incorporated most of the technologies used in other sports. Those who play golf tend to be conservative with the use of past techniques and rules. This has resulted into the persistence of challenges that were encountered previously during golf events.
According to the perspectives of skeptics, golf is not really dying but it is merely taking a natural dip after it had undergone an unjustified soar in popularity during the 'golf bubble' brought by the popularity of Tiger Woods when he was competitive in the game. During his time, his participation in golf drew significant interest in the sport. But no other star has emerged that matches his popularity (Tuttle, 2014). However, due to his infidelity scandals and recent poor performance in play, and a number of injuries, there has been reduced popularity of golf and many people prefer not to participate in golfing but watching the events at their residential areas. Many people also prefer not to buy golf gears and stores that sell golf products have experienced significant reductions in sales. Consequently, it has been suggested that the popularity of golf that was experienced in the past decade was simply a fluke which was not its actual status. The 'golf bubble' has reached its peak and it is slowly returning to its status as a game which is played in a particular niche (The Economist.com, 2015). Due to Tiger Woods' popularity, many golf courses were built, causing saturation of cities and an increase in saturation of markets with golf products. This has since declined greatly following the retirement of Tiger Woods among other professional golfers who were revered by fans.
This paper shows that golf is one of the highly declining sports in both the United States and worldwide in terms of popularity. This is attributed to a number of factors ranging from the changes in lifestyles to high cost of participation in golf. It is found that most Americans have preferred to participate in other sports or leisure activities because they associate golf with older people with higher income to dispose. The complexity of training to acquire skills in playing golf has been suggested as one of the reasons that have contributed to its low popularity. Another factor has been the retirement of Tiger Woods who was an inspiration to many fans and investors in golf. Another argument is that golf experienced a 'bubble' phenomenon which promoted its popularity beyond its status, but it is returning to its right status after the 'bubble burst' which occurred at the end Tiger Woods' career. After his slump in performance and a number of scandals, his iconic characteristic dropped and many people have not been attracted to golf. It has been suggested that the only solution to the challenge of low popularity of golf is to devise new approaches of training and promote the sport through scholarships and reduce the cost of attending golf events.
Cook, B.,(2014, May). How A declining Middle Class if Killing Golf, Forbes Magazine, [Online], available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcook/2014/05/23/how-a- declining-middle-class-is-killing-golf/#407aabb77c14 , Accessed on October 14, 2017.
Tuttle, B., (2014, June). Fore! No, Make That Five! 5 Reasons Golf Is in a Hole, [Online], Available at: http://time.com/money/2871511/golf-dying-tiger-woods-elitist/ , Accessed on October 14, 2017.
Harwell, D. (2015, March). Why America Fell Out of Love with Golf. The Washington Post, [Online], available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/05/why- america-fell-out-of-love-with-golf/?utm_term=.28f3b31da173 , Accessed on October 14, 2017.
The Economist.com. (2015, April). Why Golf is In Decline in America, [Online], Available at: https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/04/economist-explains-1 , Accessed on October 14, 2017.
Greenfield, K.T., (2015, April). Death of Golf, Men's Journal, [Online], Available at: http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-death-of-golf-20150625 , Accessed on October 14, 2017.
Dunsmuir, A., (2016, February). Participation Slumps Again in as More Golf clubs close, The Golf Business, [Online], available at: http://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/2016/02/participation-slumps-again-as-more-golf- clubs-close/ ,Accessed on October 14, 2017.
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