with Robert Bicknell
Once again, certain segments of the golf community, mostly in the US and Australia are trying to find a way to make golf more palatable to the masses, specifically the segments which prefer video games, iPads, iPods and the sofa with a bowl of chips and a six-pack of beer within arms reach.
People are talking about making golf only 14 holes, 15-inch holes, foot golf (which is sort of like combining football (soccer) and golf. They mention more family friendly clubhouses, kids centres and even changing all the rules to make golf something that can be played within two hours.
Unfortunately, what these segments do not understand is that, simply put, golf is not for everyone. Let me repeat that… golf is not for everyone.
Golf in the US, Australia and Europe is on a downswing, but the fault for this doesn't lie in the game, but rather the mindset of club owners and the industry in general.
When Tiger Woods lit a fire in everyone's imaginations, driving ranges began to fill with parents bringing in their kids hoping junior would be the next PGA Tour star.
Golf courses began to pop up everywhere, mostly without owners doing due diligence and having solid business plans. Golf equipment manufacturers began to pump out new models, which pushed the limits of the rules, faster than ever.
In a nutshell, golf was booming and, as usual, nobody wanted to face the simple fact that every cycle has both highs and lows.
Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods all ignited golf booms. People forget that the market cooled after every boom and it is no different this time around.
If you go back to the very beginnings on golf, you would probably also see boom and bust cycles right up to modern day. During which golf survived and rules changes were not necessary, nor were garbage can size holes or kicking a soccer ball into the hole.
Golf isn't the problem, society is and the bigger problem is that it's not changing for the better; it's changing for the worse. But before we delve into that, let's look at the positive aspects of golf.
Golf takes four hours to play an 18-hole round. This essentially forces you to put other things aside for relaxing and exercise. Golf teaches you - especially youngsters – the importance of playing by the rules and taking responsibility for their own actions. Golf requires players to clean up after themselves – raking their bunkers, fixing their pitchmarks and filling their divots.
Golf has a complicated risk vs reward system. It teaches you when to "go for it" and when to exercise prudence. It also teaches you that, with effort, education and time, you can improve to be the best player you can.
Now, the naysayers claim that golf takes too much time. In today's world, patience is a virtue that almost nobody possesses. Everyone seems to want instantaneous gratification. They want it and they want it now. So, it seems to me that this is not a good thing as it encourages greed and impatience.
Naysayers claim the rules are unfair and stops them from having a good time. In today's world, rules are for suckers. People simply don't want to obey rules, especially if it inconveniences them or gets in the way of getting what they want. So, again it seems that greed and intolerance has been joined with an inflated sense of self-worth and a refusal to accept things as they are.
Naysayers claim that golf doesn't allow them to "be themselves" and forces them to conform to a standard of dress. Considering the amount of body parts that people have found ways to pierce to tattoo, it's no wonder they get offended when told they cannot wear a muscle shirt proclaiming that something or other "sucks". Golf has a dress code and expects players to act like "ladies and gentlemen." If you want to dress like a thug or a rapper, please feel free to visit your local bowling alley.
When the Vietnamese Government froze the amount of new golf projects, some people screamed like hell, but it turns out that they were right to do it. Supply shouldn't outstrip demand which is the problem in the US and elsewhere.
Out of control development is the problem, not golf. — VNS