The Secret To Golf?

Every year, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) publishes a study on how the game is doing, both the numbers of players and the reasons for the game’s growth or decline. Right now, it’s in decline: Participation slipped just a bit from 2011 to 2012 (25.7 to 25.3 million, small enough to be a statistical error), but since 2005 the game has lost 4.7 million players, a disturbingly large number. Studying those who dropped the game, the NGF divides them into two types: “Once Committed” and “Never Committed,” with the latter—who never played more than 10 rounds in their lives—the much larger group. The “Onces,” who used to play like the rest of us, cited time and money as their principal reasons for giving it up, followed by health, lack of playing partners, and other activities. The “Nevers” primarily gave up golf for other activities that were more fun. Golf, they said, is too hard, too frustrating, and makes them too uncomfortable. Not enough fun. Interesting. Think about it.



  1. As a “Once,” I respectfully disagree with the “Nevers.” Golf is indeed fun, in a damnable sort of way. Those of us who golf know what I mean. But golf likely never would captivate the “Nevers” who don’t believe it is fun, and it never would have — just as my idea of fun wouldn’t be to hoist a jib (is that what they do?) in a sailing league. To each his own. Golf shouldn’t mount a campaign to install 10-inch-diameter cups and concave greens as a way to make it “more fun.”
    The “Onces,” if you ask me, are more crucial to the game of golf than the “Nevers” are. As a “Once,” regrettably, I agree that time and cost are huge barriers. It pains me to say that, and I can’t say I know what to do about it — though I am willing to pay less for a round of golf on a well-plotted course that isn’t what we consider to be in immaculate condition.
    Speaking of fun, can I interest anyone in a fun offseason golf read? “Fore! Gone. Minnesota’s Lost Golf Courses, 1897-1999.” Due out within weeks. Find out more at Yes, it’s a shameless plug.

    — Joe Bissen · Monday November 18, 2013 ·


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