I admire anyone who can play a good game of golf. I will go one better—I admire anyone who simply keeps playing golf. I can say this with authority because I have tried very hard at certain times in my life to play golf and to become good enough at it that I might even play a respectable game. Unfortunately, golf is simply not in my genes. It remains a torturous experience for me. My golfing days will remain firmly on the miniature golf course where I tend to do much better.
From a business perspective, golf is not achieving the viability it once had. For example, the number of golfers peaked in 2002, but has steadily dropped since then by 24%. While 14 new courses opened last year, over ten times as many closed. Moreover, that was the eighth consecutive year in which more courses closed than opened. Lindsey Rupp and Lauren Coleman-Lochner report on some of the disincentives to a golf newbie (“How gold Got Stuck In the Rough” Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/23/14–6/29/14, pp. 23–24):
“Not that long ago, golf was considered the activity of choice for corporate bonding and the upwardly mobile aiming to look successful. Today companies are relying less on glad-handing on the links, and many young people are cool to a pursuit viewed as time-intensive and elitist.” (p. 23)
McRedmond Morelli (founder of major golf network company, Boxgroove) affirms the sport’s inherent difficulties:
“‘The game is hard, the game can take a lot of time, and it’s expensive. . . . There is no equivalent to the bunny slope on golf.’” (p. 23)
Although the industry is doing some things to repackage the sport to be more inviting, I think the time, the money, the digital age of networking, and the millennial mindset may increasingly shrink the sport’s footprint.
Regardless of the outcome, I will remain on the miniature golf course as I continue to admire the real golfers, even as their numbers dwindle.