Is Golf Dying Again?
Then Why Can’t I Get a Tee Time?
The newest round of prophets announcing the death of golf have come out with the next volume of statistics to prove their dire predictions. Apparently, an enormous percentage of young people have declined to pick up the club, and the reasons given are linked to the amount of time needed to play a round. Oh, now I get it. That’s why no matter how fast I play, somebody roars up and tells me to go faster, even though they can plainly see that I’m breathing hard, and on the verge of a major pulmonary and/or fainting event. A few mention that the game is still hard. If that is so, tennis should reflect the same statistics, and it doesn’t. The difficulty of the game is not the problem, if there is one. Articles suggesting the width of holes be enlarged to cherry pie proportions continue to be written, as if the practitioners of the standard game got tired of having to be so surgical and skilled, then decided to quit en masse.
I’ve never seen anyone chicken out of a hard game that they knew was hard going in. A few thirteen-year-olds, perhaps, but not a pre-warned adult who had ever spent five minutes on a driving range. And speaking of the driving range, I would love to hear some statistical trends. For example, if fewer people are playing rounds, are more people hitting buckets on the course’s edge? That would certainly support the high-time commitment folks, and would almost certainly satisfy the argument of the “golf is too expensive” Â crowd. But making the game easier? We don’t need the death of hard. The difficulty factor isn’t dissuading anyone, because we live in a fantasy, every last one of us, that we can do this.
I was a typical kid who drove himself crazy to play the game well, but it was all ok, because everyone I played with went through the same thing. I don’t want an easy game, particularly a dumbed-down one, and nobody I know wants one, either.
My guess is that it’s the people who own and manage admission fee counters are the ones who are doing the grieving. There has been an urge since the beginning of time to hit a round object with a stick of some kind, but until recent years, there has never been such an exorbitant fee charged for the primitive pleasure. Then, after we’ve paid a month’s worth of rent to play a single round, they tell us to swing mindlessly and hurry to the next shot, where our second mindless swing will produce the sort of results that keep us in the rough for a lot longer than we have would spent after a little bit of good old concentration. It isn’t the game that’s dying. The real death is in the pocket book – with the respiratory system close behind.
I used to play two to three rounds per week, that is before I left home and had to do the support yourself thing. Even then, I played every chance I got. Now, I play once a month, tops, sometimes once every two months during the warm months. I almost live, however, at the driving range. because if I’m going to pay such high fees to play, I insist on maximizing the possibility that I’ll play well. Stink up the joint and pay through the nose for it? No, thanks. The course and the club manufacturer, seeing that the profits are dwindling, charge more to compensate for it, then drive away another percentage of willing clientele. Good Will is winning the new club battle.
So, forget the death of golf, unless we persist in our player-unfriendly ways. Death to green fees that are larger than my car payment. Â Death to the Roman overseer cracking the whip over my head while I dare to line up a putt. Death to the overbooking of tee times that make us all slow. And death to what one writer called “the bunny slope approach” to golf. We have that already. It’s called the local park or schoolyard. Golf doesn’t need saving from itself. It needs saving from those who make it too expensive and frantic.