Golf`s Long Recession
February 21, 2008, 09:01 PM
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The NYT headlines:
More Americans Are Giving Up Golf

In many parts of the country, high expectations for a golf bonanza paralleling baby boomer retirements led to what is now considered a vast overbuilding of golf courses.

That was a mistake. Golf is not young man's game, but it's a youngish man's game: something like 30 to 50. Back in 2003, I wrote a 4-part series on why golf was in for a long stretch of economic hard times. In "The Golf Industry's Demographic Dead-End," I said:
According to the National Golf Foundation, the great leap forward in the number of players actually occurred between 1985 and 1990, when baby boomers, growing a little too old for contact sports swelled the ranks of golfers by 31 percent. Since 1990, however, the total is up only 14 percent.

The number of people turning 30, an age at which golf starts seeming more sensible than basketball or mountain biking, has been in decline since the mid-1990s. It will turn upward toward the end of the decade, but that growth will be driven heavily by minorities.

The urge to play golf appears related to testosterone levels. When they are at their peak, say age 15-25, you want to hit somebody, so contact sports are most appealing. Later, you want to hit something, so hitting a golf ball sounds good.

The funny thing is that the ability to hit a golf ball a long ways declines quite slowly with age. Typically, what goes first is putting ability.

Here are my four 2003 articles:

1. The Golf Recession

2. Why Golf Has Gotten So Expensive

3. Will Less Expensive Golf Courses Catch On?

4. Golf's Demographic Dead-End