From over 30 million golfers to less than 23.5 million, from over 16,000 18-hole equivalents to 14,118 and from 1,882 golfers to 1,687 golfers per 18 holes are the numbers posted to the scoreboard. Rounds have fallen from 37,572 to 32,295, municipal golf courses have grown by 36% and public courses now constitute 75% of all facilities. Time, cost and difficulty are cited ad nauseam as the reason for golf’s decline.
I believe these three frequently cited factors are not the cause but the result of a greater problem: our changing culture.
At Baltimore International Airport, they now have a “SERVICE ANIMAL RELIEF AREA.” Dogs are now frequently seen on planes, in hotels, and in restaurants. The rise in “emotional therapy” animals is exponential with passengers citing they are traumatized by flight and require the pet to remain emotionally stable.
I agree they are unemotionally unstable and should be on a couch in a doctor’s office and not on a plane until healthy opting for car, bus or train as their primary transport. I fear a lot of things, heights, snakes, sharks, crocodiles, etc. – anything related to death not by natural causes. I am not demanding the Eiffel Tower build a self-enclosed elevator that goes to the top without having to walk across a plank at 650 feet. I just don’t go up. I am not requesting Troon Golf remove all the rattlesnakes on their Scottsdale courses as a condition of my playing. I just take extra balls lacking some.
Recently, I saw a lady walking her pet pig through Lowe’s. I asked if that was unusual. The manager said, “Absolutely not. We have had goats, donkeys, and Shetland ponies paraded through the store.”
What is the problem and what is the connection to golf?
We have become a society where our sense of propriety is lost. We believe our rights are greater and more important than those of others. We have lost our moral and ethical compass to accept our responsibility to respect the rights of others within our community, the nation and on the global campus.
Golf represents the antithesis of these values. Golf attracts those who respect and subconsciously believe in the nine core values taught by First Tee: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment. As a result, golf attracts those who have respect for the game’s rules and the traditions it imbues: 74% wealthier and 13% older than the general population, largely Caucasian and 76% male and a welcomed growing female participation – up 33% in six years.
Earlier this month, I saw an individual (gentleman would be too kind a description) bring his dog into the practice area at the Ridge at Castle Pines. The well-trained crew under the guidance of Daniel Kane, Troon General Manager, respectively informed him of the inappropriate behavior and asked that he depart. Yea!
With this hopefully an exception rather than a new trend in golf, I ponder if rather than pandering to the masses a targeted advertising approach to those who identify with the values of First Tee would accelerate the growth of golf and seal the leak on the current balloon?
What do you think? Please comment below.