Out of fashion???

RGuk

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All very interesting. Golf could certainly be on the decline in certain "areas" of society. Clearly, this article is presenting the theory that corporate America is turning it's back on certain leisure activities; if the whizz kids and high earners don't feel they have the time to play and are deserting the clubs/courses, all I can say is.......GOOD!

I make no effort to hide my disdain for the massive negative effect that rich corporations (and their wallets) have had on the cost of golf for the ordinary man. A golf club should be self-financing through it's membership and then set fees for visitors that reflect the true value of the service they then offer as a "bonus" to the coffers. If this means certain clubs/organisations go to the wall, you won't see me crying.

Sorry to those that find this offensive......where I live there are lots of courses that you can't get on unless the company pays or you have money to burn.....if difficult financial times come to these shores, you might find me at these courses finally enjoying a game without the guilt that I'm spending my "hard earned" on preposterous fees.

Well spotted htl.
 

USER1999

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It is clearly a numbers game, and yes, you could say it was on the decline.

Movements like this new golf game (can't remeber the name, but you get two pins on the green) are attempting to spice it up, whilst simultaneously reduce playing time.

We have a top golf in Watford too, although this to me is not golf, but another albeit similar game altogether, which obviously hopes to get new people hooked.

Longer term may see the number of holes cut to 12 or so, to speed it up. Or, the number of clubs carried reduced to say 9, which would make sets cheaper (nice theory anyway).

It is getting too expensive to play decent courses as a guest, which long term will kill the game off. £100 per round is too expensive, no matter what the track.

The other thing which is driving people away is the time factor. People can't give up the whole day to golf. Things need to change (JB Holmes take note). 5 hour rounds have to go.

I played a three ball on friday, 18 holes, 2 1/2 hours. We did not rush, we didn't run, we all played well (I was 8 under my h/cap, the others were about level with theirs). If golf was the same time frame as a couple of sets of tennis, or a game of footy, then it may become more attractive to more people.

One thing is for sure, it will evolve or fade away.

On the other hand, as long as there are enough people playing to keep the decent courses open, do we need more people clogging them up?

As a business it is still suffering from an eighties boom, when loads of rubbish courses were built, all of which are now struggling for members, and at risk of going bust. If these went to the wall, it would at least shore up some of the better ones which are struggling.

Another thing I don't get is why golf down south is so expensive. Assuming maintainance costs are similar between courses, why is northern membership 350 ish, and southern 1000 ish. What do they do with all the loot? Note we a re a non profit making members club so it does all get spent.
 

billyg

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FWIW I like golf as it is the complete antithesis of our time constrained, winner takes all lifetyles.

It doesn't matter how much money you throw at it, you can't beat patience and dilligence. The same could be said for going to the gym or indeed any past-time requiring some sort of commitment and this points to deeper underlying discrepencies in what is sometimes called our work-life balance.

I'm concerned about the trends and statistics that the article highlights as they clearly point to a shift in the market but if a 'bust' occurs then it might lead to new fragmentation and a rationalising of clubs and options.

It is difficult to predict what forms these new appraoches will take but would suggest some of the following might happen in one form or another:

1) The 'golf-lite' - approach. This could take many forms but a sort of hybrid between golf and minature golf could be in the offing. The Urban Golf model is one tentacle of this idea as is using small brownfield sites with modified golf balls and fewer holes. Virtual golf in the form of EASports Tiger Woods already taps a tangetial share of this potential market.

I seem to remember reading that the Japanese have only 10% of their golfing community playing 'full/traditonal' golf primarily due to space constraints but their fabled work ethic ties in squarely with emerging global market concerns.

2)The current enviromental zeitgeist: A tightening of tax relief laws against 'frivilous use of land' leading to a slowdown and eventual flat lining of course construction. This may shift the supply and demand curves naturally leading to, if anything, more expensive golf after an initial checking of marginal rises in the short term.

Demands both financial and behavioural at the top or 'full game' end may rise and members failing to make the cut by these yardsticks will find themselves stratified within one of the options under point 1.

If the potential markets for the top end are squeezed then profit margins could be cut leading to lower quality (if cheaper goods) and the less efficient producers and suppliers forced out entirely.

We could see the polarity between street hockey and hockey occur with most of us stuck in a very unhappy middle ground. You think it's tough getting into a club now?- just wait until your local muni. wants you have been to Eton before they'll even look at you- scary.

3) The Premier League approach- derived from some of the factors above. Were all well versed no doubt with the changing face of club football. Imagine the effects of such methods applied to amateur golf :(

I would like to think that i'll see my time out without having to confront any of these awful developments but the market moves quickly nowadays.

One thing is a distinct possibility......

A good argument could be made that right now weve never had it so good nor are we likely to in the future.

Frightening thought eh?
 

viscount17

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I can speak only as I see. Although there appears to be no shortage of youngsters around my course it is equally true that the bulk of the active members are probably at the other end of the timescale.

Golf is expensive, it is time consuming and offers no quick results, they have to be worked for - none of which endear themselves to most of the current generations. It also still has the stigma of snobbery attached - we in the game know that in the main it is no longer the case but it does exist and as a result golf doesn't market itself well.

To Mr/Ms Average the only golfer they will know will probably be Tiger, maybe Monty but only as an Eddie the Eagle figure. They will never watch golf because the pro game is far too slow and televising at too awkward a time. And it is this that worries me.

The US has a huge influence over golf - like it or not the big money end of golf will impose changes. They will want to speed up the game until it is a one round format that can be covered in no more time than baseball or 'football'.
If we don't much care for the manicured, target golf tracks that are common now, we will hate what is coming.
 

HomerJSimpson

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I have to say I'm not too sad to see the demise of the huge corporate market in the US. There are a number of clubs around my neighbourhood that are set up much the same way (to attract the corporate membership) such as Stoke Park, Wentworth, Mill Ride.

These do little to encourage Mr Average golfer. In my opinion we are already an elitist group given the amount of time we need to give to playing our sport and the relatively higher entry costs to take up the sport. Even if you look at a cheap full set, a bag, shoes, a dozen cheap balls, glove and maybe an umbrella you are talking in the region of £150. This does not take into account green fees (an unadvoidable cost) or club membership.

I seem to remember a few years back a number of courses being built on the back of debenture funding. This particular niche of the golfing market seems to have fallen/bust in a big way. I know of at least one course which went bankrupt and was bought out by property developers for housing.

I don't necessarily think the demand for golf itself is dropping particularly while the Tiger effect remains valid. There are also schemes such as "wee Wonders" promoting the game to very young kids who would not normally have the opportunity to play.

I think the time will come where green fees pak and even drop. As the big name clubs begin to feel the pinch of lost corporate revenue it will follow that to attract a larger number of ordinary players they will have to make thir green fee package more competitive.

I for one quite enjoy the elitist side of things. I know a round will take about 5 hours and plan my life/work around my games. I am also a deicated practicer and so again allow golf to take up my time. I am a member of a club because I want to be (I culd be nomadic or use a pay and play but choose not to).

In conclusion, I don't think there is a need to hit the panic button just yet. Golf is here to stay and in my opinion may become more accessible as worldwide budget constraints hit big business
 

RGuk

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Wow, what a great thread......never seen such a selection of well thought out, lengthy threads......should we stand as a political party??
 
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