US golfers’ number close to edge of collapase

By: May 14, 2011

Gen Yesuda says in his article in that for the third consecutive year, the number of golfers in the U.S. declined, falling 3.6 percent to 26.1 million in 2010, according to the National Golf Foundation.

The slide, from 27.1 million golfers in 2009, wasn’t unexpected in light of the heavy toll the recession has had on the sport and the economy in general.

The decline has not started in 2009, but even earlier we saw signs that something went wrong. At the same time I would not use the economic climeate as an exemption. This is just one reason among the others (+golf equipments' (golf clubs, golf balls, golf trainings etc.) prices went up). Couple of signs shown us that the way we are managing golf club membership (namely golf club membership policy) is not in favour of golf courses and golf industry itself. We also saw how such emblematic company like Acushnet Company  (manufacturer of Titleist, Scotty Cameron etc.) and Ping are struggling to be profitable.

Almost a year ago I warned people that the current golf club membership policy does not fit to the current business environment and not in favour to recruit new players to golf sport. People do not like those old-fashioned rules of golf courses of the 20th century. They expect openness, transparency and flexibility. To be a golf club member should not be a privilege but something like a fan of a Facebook page.

Here are some findings of National Golf Foundation:

• The number of “core” golfers (eight or more rounds annually) dropped to 14.8 million – down 3.6 percent from 15.3 million in 2009.

• “Occasional” golfers suffered a similar decline: a drop of 3.7 percent to 11.3 million from 11.8 million in 2009.

• The number of rounds played in 2010 was 475 million, down 2.3 percent from 486 million in the previous year. (By comparison, rounds played in 2000 and 2005 was 518 million and 500 million, respectively.)

The participation study defines a golfer as a person, age 6 or older, who plays at least one round of golf in a given year. Its results are “derived from a multi-sport study of 40,000 Americans, executed in conjunction with the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association,” the NGF stated.