Modern golf lacks participation and support

Michael McKee, Sports Editor

With the Masters over, Patrick Reed is the new champion in the world of golf. With Reed being only 27 years old, he is continuing the trend of younger champions in golf, but how much longer can the sport live on?

The PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) says that more golf courses will close than open in the next few years, and golf sales have declined by 2.3 million since 2008. Golf sales are also plummeting, and Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said, “We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf.” He attempted to explain why golf gear sales have gone down so exponentially:

“We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant a decline this would be.” According to the latest data from National Sporting Goods Association, the golf participation rate has declined each year from $23.2 million in 2008 to $20.9 million in 2011 before rebounding slightly to 21.1 million in 2012.

Studies show that leisure time has shrunk for both men and women, and dads are doing more work around the house, although moms still devote more time to chores and childcare than their spouses. A so-called “leisure gap” still exists between mothers and fathers, and while dads tend to enjoy an extra hour per day of free time on weekends, they are more likely to be watching TV than out on the golf course.

Another reason for the decline is that it is too expensive. Golf has a reputation for being pricey, with $400 drivers, $100,000 club initiation fees and many other gadgets. Christine Brennan, a columnist for USA Today, cautioned that unless sports figures find a way to change course, “Golf is destined to continue to hemorrhage participants and further ensure its place as a mostly-white, suburban, rich men’s niche sport with plenty of TV sponsors who make cars, write insurance and invest money.”

Golf to me as a sophomore in high school is virtually non-existent. My dad, who used to be a big golfer, keeps his clubs in the back of his car but probably has not even touched them in close to a year. With new information of the decline in the sport, I believe golf’s popularity is on a steep decline unless more young people become interested in what it has to offer.