Media highlights golf problems

TWO of the UK’s biggest media outlets, the BBC and the Daily Telegraph, have both published stories identifying the problems golf is facing and offering potential solutions.

The media articles come on the back of comments by Rory McIlroy, who came second at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, a decision which led to anger on social media by golf fans who thought he deserved first prize.

McIlroy said: “The viewership in golf is up but the participation is down. People enjoy watching the game but gone are the days that you could spend five or six hours on a golf course. Everything’s so instant now and everyone doesn’t have as much time as they used to so you maybe try some way of speeding the game up.”

The Telegraph responded with five ways that golf can reverse its problems: make golf clubs more welcoming, speed up the sport, more instances of Tiger Woods, improved radical inclusivity and embrace women’s lib.

“Golf clubs can be intimidating to people who do not “fit in” – i.e. everyone in the human race who is not already in it,” writes journalist Alan Tyers.

The BBC revealed that the number of people aged 16 to 25 who played golf once a week between 2009 and 2010 fell from 95,700 to just 52,400 between 2012 and 2013.

It asked a number of people why this is the case and found the answers were to do with time and money.

Comments included:

“One major obstacle is money. It is an expensive hobby for youngsters. How about some of the mega millions earned at the top end of golf being used to subsidise struggling clubs and younger players?”

“My son was a junior member at a prestigious London club until he was 18. Once he had been to university and returned home he would have had to become a full member which he can’t afford. Clubs should do more to provide a bridge from junior membership to full membership.”

“Joining fees are the issue, to join a decent course near me I’d have to find £3,000 on top of membership. If I relocated again in a year’s time that’s a sunk cost. Not too appealing when trying to save for a house. Meanwhile, those most settled in life, the retiree who can play seven times a week, doesn’t have these concerns – clubs will pay the ultimate price for pricing a generation out of the game in 20 years.”

“Make it cheaper. Green fees, lessons, gear, balls, all too expensive. Golf clubs and manufacturers at fault.”

“Most clubs offer payment plans and there has never been so much used golf equipment available as now. There’s no need to buy new kit and many would benefit from using a half set in a lightweight bag rather than the mobile homes on wheels that trundle round our courses making such a mess in the winter months.”

“Slow play has nothing to do with the falling number of younger players playing golf. The primary reason is COST – to play one round; to be a member; to buy golf clubs et al.”

“Clubs need to widen the gap between groups on the time sheet, offer nine, 12, 14 and 18-hole competitions and subsequently offer specific memberships to match the competitions and the members’ needs. Also clubs should look at the concept of zone golf, pin positions ranging from easy, to medium and hard. The game needs to be 1. more affordable; 2. less stressful; 3. enjoyable.”

“To attract young golfers we need to show the fun side of golf and get rid of stupid dress codes to make it more accessible.”

“Time stopped me playing golf at 11. Went to tennis. A game of nine holes got me back: Family fun.”

“How about a timer. Players should have a set time to take their shot. This would add urgency and pressure.”

“Have specific blocked out times for junior fourballs so three or four groups can play together and then speak about the game after.”

“Shorter courses where more sensible club selection and ball accuracy with a difficult layout is the way.”

“The player who is deemed first to putt on the green should putt out completely, saving oodles of time – marking the ball, cleaning the ball, lining up the ball etc.”

“Design or adapt courses to have three six-hole loops. So time-restricted people can play the first six, or the first twelve. Maybe have competitions where an 18-hole round score could be accumulated over, say, a week.”

“Golf is undoubtedly failing to adapt to modern time pressures and needs to wake up to that fact. It’s increasingly difficult to justify the amount of time needed to play a round within the confines of modern family life,” said the BBC’s golf correspondent, Iain Carter.

“Initiatives are needed to speed up play. More severe penalties are required in the pro game which sets the example for the sport at large. “Courses need to be set up with less rough meaning less time spent searching for balls.

“The golf ball travels too far; shorter courses mean shorter rounds. And clubs should encourage nine-hole golf in family friendly environments.

“This is one of the few sports families can play together, from grandparents to grandchildren, yet there are too few initiatives to make the most of this.”

 

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