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Amelia Parreira is a journalism junior and Mustang News sports columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Almost every weekend for about a year, I prepared and set up a buffet luncheon at the event center of one of the local golf clubs. Around noon, I’d stand by as dozens of hungry golfers poured into the building after spending hours on the green.
With their faces as red as sun-dried tomatoes and beads of sweat smeared on their skin, the golfers sported looks of satisfied exhaustion as they feasted and awaited the final tournament results. Just another typical afternoon.
I thought I had golf society all figured out. But I really didn’t know as much as I thought.
Over the past couple of years, it seemed to me that golf was becoming a more prevalent sport. From peer discussions to news coverage, golf is surrounding me more than ever before. I can’t even turn on a big television network like CBS on Sunday mornings without catching a live tournament.
But is the world of golf really spreading throughout modern society?
Nope. It turns out to be one giant illusion.
In fact, The National Golf Foundation reported that the amount of golfers has decreased by 13 percent in the past five years, an all-time low.
A 2014 article from CNBC places much of the blame on Tiger Woods, who was formerly known for his “Best Male Athlete” awards and other achievements. The article claims Woods’ successful career sparked an increase in public interest in the sport. However, people began to turn their heads once he hit a personal crisis that left them skeptical.
While this may have had some effect on golf popularity, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.
One sport contains thousands of participants. To put that much emphasis and supremacy on one of them alone is just silly.
Instead, let’s look at the three things that play a big part in the golf world and its decreasing popularity: money, time and mere interest.
Economic affluence has played a major role in golf from the time it kicked off in the late 1800s. Long story short, it all started when a bunch of rich guys, including John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, decided to put their wealth toward big club developments that would eventually serve to make an even bigger profit.
From memberships to equipment, golf is undoubtedly an expensive sport, which is why it is more common for upper- and middle-class citizens to actively participate. The National Sporting Goods Association reported that, in 2011 alone, a total of $3.56 billion was spent on golf equipment, though that equipment only had a total value of $2.5 billion.
When the recession hit in 2007, those who could afford club memberships before were forced to give up that luxury. It wasn’t until 2011 when the game picked up pace once again, contributing $70 billion to America’s economy in one year. Even though many big golf clubs have slashed their prices by thousands of dollars, there are still a fair amount of people who cannot afford it and therefore do not play golf as frequently.
Now let’s look at the second reason why golf presently sees a decline in popularity: time.
Completing an 18-hole round of golf takes a minimum of four hours. That’s more time than I spend sleeping most nights.
Now let’s say you’re competing in a tournament with a couple hundred people. That could take as much as an entire day.
Maybe that doesn’t seem so bad if you literally have nothing else to do (or just don’t care about doing anything else). But in today’s society, more people need to tend to family, friends, loved ones and tasks that request their attention, especially young and middle-aged adults. So who really has the time and energy for that?
That brings me to my final point: Golf presents a conflict of interest, mainly based on age.
Golf is peculiar when it comes to its viewers and participants. The majority of golfers are over 50, yet professional golf receives more attention if the all-stars are young. However, many youngsters become uninterested in the game since they all think the sport is meant for older generations.
Basically, it’s one big circle of dissatisfaction.
This past year, a whopping 200,000 golfers under the age of 35 dropped their place in the sport. If this trend persists, it will be even less possible to gain rising stars such as four-time major champion Rory McIlroy or 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth.
For now, golf remains in a rut, but it’s up to our future generations to keep it from sinking deeper in the sand.
It’s up to our young golf lovers to turn the sport around so it becomes more of an interest and less of a hassle for players and viewers.
Would you be up for that challenge?