Should We Modify Golf Courses And Game Play To Attract Younger Participants?

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Should golf courses listen to game enthusiasts that predict a steep participation drop-off in the near future? Should they modify gameplay and equipment to remain in business, or will this just alienate their existing customer base? The arguments on both sides have merit.

Not As Popular As It Used To Be

Playing the game as a pleasurable pastime continues to elude later-born Generation-Xers, Generation-Yers, and Millennials. Participation has dropped by as many as 5 million players in the last decade. This is mostly due to the sport’s older demographic becoming too old to play, and eventually dying off. Without the younger generation picking it up, many pundits fear the game will eventually peter out. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the younger crowd feels that the sport is too difficult, takes too long to play, and has too many pointless rules to adhere to, and, therefore, is not enjoyable.

A Second Chance

Golf courses are now starting to think of the future, and are considering altering the game in order to stay in business. To appeal to the youth, professional associations and club owners are considering a bevy of tactics to encourage participation. One of these suggested improvements is building golf courses for rookies and children that have 15 inch holes. Another suggestion is promoting the idea of six hole golf courses to hook the instant gratification crowd with speedy games. So far, these strategies have succeeded in luring some of the younger set into trying the sport at least once, rather than writing it off out of intimidation.

Not Everyone Is Celebrating

However, not everyone is happy with the notion of completely rearranging the rules of a game steeped in many years of tradition. Those that take the sport seriously, whether professionally or for recreational purposes, take offense to the game being changed, regardless of the possible outcome of new ideas. It’s not that players are divided along generational lines, or that players are afraid to mess with the status quo; it is more a matter of connoisseurs taking pride in their chosen sport, and their steadfast adherence to its preservation is a reflection of the time and dedication that they put into mastering their game. Many feel that making the game easier and faster cheapens the experience.

Nobody Can Predict The Future

There are good points being made by those on either side of this discussion. Any sport needs new blood to carry on its legacy. If the interest is starting to wane, then there is no harm in doing whatever is needed to renew interest in the game. But, it can also be said that it’s unfair to revamp a sport that many are still very passionate about and tirelessly defend. It remains to be seen whether more golf courses will implement any of the suggested modifications and what results these changes will bring regarding the future generations’ game participation.

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