I constantly see the discussion that golf is dying or that golf is an old man sport. As someone who is younger I find myself the target demographic everyone is talking about. Why do people my age not like golf and how do we get them to come out to the course?
The biggest problem my generation has is with time. We grew up in the height of the tech era. We have a need and want for things to be quick. I myself have no problem going out and dropping 3-3.5 hours on 18 holes. It gets crazy when we start approaching 4-5 hours for 18 holes. Hell, I like golf and I find myself not wanting to go out and play because of the fear of being out there for 5 hours on a Saturday. I hate to say this but I have other things to do with my time on a Saturday than spend 5 hours on a golf course.I have a wife,friends,and other sports to watch. A day should not be spent doing one thing all day. Its crazy. Also on a Saturday during the fall I will be at the University of Houston game. If they play at 2 that almost always eliminates golf. If I knew I could get on and off a course in 3-3.5 hours I would be much more likely to play on that Saturday. A 5 hour round and a 2pm kick off requires me to tee off at 830 AM to make sure I can play 18 then make it home in time for kickoff. I see courses now that promote playing in 4.5 hours. Are you kidding me? If someone falls behind pace Im guaranteed a 5 hour round. Thats ridiculous. Just look at the picture above. Your goal is 4 hours and 15 minutes. If I reach that I feel like I am playing incredibly slow. It is crazy to think 4:15 is a good pace. If you want more younger people we must address the pace of play epidemic. It truly is killing this great game.
The next biggest problem that is killing the game of golf with young people is the cost. My generation graduated college in the worst job market since the Great Depression. When we graduated no one had any money and it was tough for us to even find jobs. When I graduated college I took an internship paying the minimum wage. If it wernt for my wife making 30K a year we wouldnt have survived. When you look at that job market and you look at the complete lack of income I just couldnt afford golf. If you want to play you can always start with your basic beginner box set. For that you are looking at $250. Then you are going to need some golf balls. Maybe you dont care what you hit. Well there is $15. Now you want to hit a few buckets before you head out to the course. Those are $10 a pop. Now you are ready for the course. Time to pony up almost $50 to go play a cheaper course. It builds up very quickly. Dont even get me started on getting any kind of name brand club. I have shown how you can do it on a tight budget but that doesnt make it cheap. Looking at the top 100 courses in Texas only 33 are public courses. Of those 33 only 15 are under $100 . The cheapest is $49 at Memorial Park in Houston. When you are our age you also want to have a place to hang out. The best places to hang out after a round are usually the private courses which again we cant afford to get into. Equipment is too expensive and courses are too expensive.
The final reason golf has a hard time attracting younger folks to play is the very uptight nature of the game. The “outrage” over the outfit above is a prime example of this. Reactions ranged from “How dare he disrespect the game” to ” He looks like a clown”. Me personally I like everything he is wearing and think he looks pretty good. One thing my generation loves is relaxation. We work hard throughout the week and on the weekends we want to be able to let our hair down and have a good time. The last thing most people my age want to do on the weekends is pay to have to wear slacks and a polo. Hell my job allows shorts, T-shirts, and flip flops. I have to get more “dressed up” to relax than I do to go to work. That is crazy. When I go out to practice I will wear a T-Shirt and some athletic shorts. When I do this I will draw some crazy looks. I am there to put the white ball into the round cup. Who cares what I look like? I have played courses that require your shirt to be tucked in at all times. No one my age wants that. We hate it. Let me wear some shorts and a T-Shirt. If I am being honest I will probably end up wearing a polo anyways. It also doesnt help that golf has a very “Good Ol Boys Network” feel to it. I would love to join a Mens Golf Association at my local course that has weekly tournaments that take place at 5PM. The problem is hardly any of those exist. If it has to be a 9 hole round lets do that! Its very hard for a working guy to get into the good ol boys network and participate with them. Dont you dare even approach that group in jeans and a T-Shirt no matter how good you may be.
In order to keep our game alive and attract more people my age we must change how we see the game. I think it is wrong when we try to make the game easier. We dont need bigger cups and we dont need nonconforming equipment. What we need is a faster,cheaper,and less uptight game. To me the biggest thing is speeding up pace of play. If we can do that we can get more rounds in and increase the revenue the course make. If we do that maybe rounds will be cheaper as well. All we can do is hope.