The golf world is in trouble. Sales of major brands are way down. The number of people who play the game continues to drop. New courses? Here’s a sad fact: there were a grand total of 14 new courses opened in the U.S. last year. Combine that with 160 courses that closed their doors and the downward spiral is in full swing.
What’s the problem? Actually there are quite a few.
It takes a long time to play 18 holes. Five hour rounds are about normal on public courses unless you play early or late in the day. Add in the travel time to get to the course and it’s almost like a work day. With everyone’s schedule in a constant state of being overbooked, it’s tough to fit in a round of golf.
Golf is an expensive game. Green fees have dropped a bit over the past few years because demand has dropped but it’s still a chunk of change. And when you factor in losing a few balls during the round and having a lunch and a beverage (or two), you’re dropping about $50 bucks each time you play.
Golf is a tough game to play. It’s hard to be good. It takes time to practice and you can really only get better if you practice a fair amount and that takes time – and money.
You can’t just go to a driving range and wail away, either. You have to work on specific aspects of your game. I’m not a very good short game player (just ask anyone who’s played with me). Last night, I was at the range for more than an hour and all I hit were nine irons, wedges, gap wedges and sand wedges. The result of all those shots? I need professional help.
I need some short game lessons. But that will take time. And money. And commitment.
Which leads to another problem. There aren’t enough young kids being attracted to the game. Because it takes time and money and commitment.
They see the game played on TV and it looks easy. They try it for themselves and they discover it’s not. So they give up.
Even golf video games aren’t that much fun to play and from what I’ve seen, those are tougher to master than FIFA or Madden or MLB The Show.
And who can EA Sports call on to be the big seller for golf video games?
Certainly not Tiger. Tiger is past tense. Tiger is past his prime. Tiger may never win another major. If his back doesn’t rebound, Tiger may never even return to the PGA Tour.
That’s got to be frightening. For quite a few years, the PGA was living and growing courtesy of Tiger Woods. His downfall has been the downfall of the PGA. It’s been a major blow to Nike and their golf ambitions.
And there is no one on the horizon ready to step up and ignite the golf world again.
Jordan Spieth? Great guy. Great golfer. Full of potential. But he’s not a Tiger.
Tiger Woods was brash. He was young. He was an ethnic mix with universal appeal. He was a risk taker on the course. He was fearless and he’d let his emotions show. He was great to root for or against – either way, you wanted to see what he’d do.
His Tiger Woods Foundation helped bring golf to the inner city. He made the game popular and made kids dream about growing up to be the next Tiger Woods.
Then that dream got shattered.
And there’s nobody next in line.
Golf needs another Tiger.