It is frustrating to read the countless stories of how Millennials are killing the golf industry! The continuous whining that it is ‘sooooo’ difficult to attract younger players to the links reminds me of the adage of trying to put a square peg in a round hole! I mean really, are millennials really causing havoc to the future of golf or is the industry doing it to itself?
In the world of “bottom-line,” maximizing profit is king. The current state of affairs in the golf industry is a result of the economic boom dating back to the 1990s. The world economies, especially the US, drove the golf industry through unprecedented expansion. However, as all good things must come to an end, today’s golf market is feeling the pinch of the 2008 downturn in every economy in the world. So as a result, the golf industry will be forced to make changes to remain a viable industry in order to attract new players, young and old.
The constant barrage of reasons from the golf experts of why the younger players are staying away continues to amaze me; golf is too expensive, it takes too much time, my friends don’t golf, it is too stuffy at the course, or I just don’t want to. These excuses drive me bonkers – it is like hitting my head against the wall because it feels good when I stop! Pointing fingers at Millennials is not helpful and will not fix the current woes within the golf industry!
Golf is a sport steeped in tradition. Its rules of propriety are rooted four hundred years, and over time it has been slow to evolve. Personally, this type of environment appeals to me, but currently it does not spark the interest in Millennials. They have chosen to spend their time and money in other areas because golf does not offer that special something they get from other activities. Is it really their fault? Also, this situation begs me to ask if the current state of golf really any different from times past? I would suggest it is not!
There was a boom in golf interest during the Tiger Woods years. Let’s face it, he single-handedly affected an entire industry like very few in the history of sport. Most people, young and old, could relate to Woods and as such he became the superstar of golf. However, the decline in numbers in recent years is a result of the waning “Tiger Effect.”
If you watch any golf show, it is easy to see that the golf industry is looking for another Tiger Woods; unfortunately, the top players in golf are falling short. Without that one player or player to carry the torch into the future, the interest in golf will continue to wane. On side note, I agree with some experts who suggest that the golf industry is more akin to the numbers before Tiger joined the world stage of golf. They were not pointing fingers at Millennials then, so why now!
So, before everyone starts blaming Millennials for the state of golf, I suggest we look in the mirror, take a deep breath and really analyse what is happening. The $70 billion dollar golf industry is doing what it has always done, ebbing and flowing with the state of the world’s economy. The younger generations are the future of golf, however in order to cash in on their involvement, golf will have to evolve. Like other industries, if golf does not change with the times, it will go the way of the dodo bird!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog for #GOLFCHAT