The Current Popularity of Golf. Is Golf Going Away?

Golf Popularity

Golf has been labeled the game of the rich for many years. We can attribute this label to the high cost of golf equipment and memberships to golf clubs. Furthermore, this game requires a specially designed field with several hours of training before you qualify for the coveted title- of golfer.  After you master the game, you still need to spend on field charges and transportation of equipment.

In the last two years, the popularity of this prestigious game has grown remarkably. Most of the new entrants are the youth and ladies who were formerly rare in the clubs. The year 2020 saw the number of players grow by 2% followed by further growth of 16.1% in 2021.  This was amid the corona pandemic and the limited interaction among players may have attracted more people to the game.

Apart from the cost, what other factors affect the numbers joining the game? We have compiled our findings on the cost of golf and how it is likely to influence the number of golfers in the future. 

The Rising Cost of Golf

The year 2020 recorded remarkable growth in 2020, a trend which continued in 2021. The same trend was recorded in the cost of playing over the two years. Most golf clubs increased their rates by 11% in addition to the high cost of acquiring the equipment. 

The sudden upward trend could have resulted from the rising demand for the game. It is normal to see increased costs of service when demand increases. The other reason that could have triggered the rise in cost is the additional staff required in the clubs to attend to the growing number of new members joining the game.

Before you pay the green fee and get to the golf course, there is a small investment in equipment. You need golf balls, golf clubs, a bag to keep your balls and shoes, not to mention the cart fee. A small increment in each requirement leads to a remarkable overall increment in the cost.

The Decline or Incline in Popularity of Golf

The increase in the number of people getting to the golf courses in 2021 and 2021 was boosted by the pandemic. Most people started working from home and gyms were closed, so a benefactor to those who want to get a bit of exercise, is the golf course. Being the only game where players are isolated, many people opted to join the clubs. Also, working remotely meant that players could squeeze their time and get on the course.

As the situation normalizes, many people are getting back to their offices as they rarely get an opportunity to visit the golf course. Most nine to five jobs are demanding and the closure time goes beyond five, leaving workers with limited time. Golf calls for setting aside a minimum of two hours, just to get nine in. And closer to four or five hours if you want to get eighteen in.  

In addition, the cost of playing is on the rise and only favors the elite who want to thin the herd. The rising costs of the golf clubs further pushes the overall cost up and pushes more enthusiasts to be mere spectators. All these factors are likely to lead to the decline in golf, especially among the youth and the middle class. 

Generally, the popularity of golf is on the rise but as things get to normal after the two-year pandemic, it may start declining.

Environmental Impact of Golf Courses

A golf course is designed on a large piece of land to provide adequate space for each player. The land has to be cleared of all the natural growth destroying the natural habitats of indigenous plants and animals. Deforestation also leads to prolonged drought and erratic weather conditions.

After clearing the land, it is landscaped and this results in soil erosion, which degrades the land. A large amount of water is used to water the grass and pesticides are a major pollutant to water bodies.

Other than the poisonous chemicals in fertilizers and herbicides which find their way to water bodies, the volume of water is greatly depleted. 

The number of people benefitting from golf courses is inversely proportional to the tracks of land hosting the game. Some argue it’s a waste of land which could serve many people by developing residential places and social amenities. With a close look at the environmental impact and people, environmental scientists are calling for better usage of the land.

Are We Closing or Opening Golf Courses

The rise in the number of people joining golf clubs has led to more courses being built. According to Golf Pass,  20 more golf courses are set to open in 2022. Here are some of the new courses:

Landmand Golf Club

The Tad King and Rob Collins designed course has all the modern features. It is situated in Southern Tennessee on a 500acre piece of land. It is one of the greatest built courses in the past century and is set to open in mid-2022.

Big Easy Ranch 

An 18-hole course designed by Chet Williams on a 2000-acre piece of land. Initially, it was designed as a nine-hole course but following its rising popularity in 2020, it was modified to an 18-hole one. It is scheduled to open in the second half of this year.

Callahan Ridge Golf Club

This modern course in Oregon is Dan Hixon’s latest design and is set to open by mid-2022.

Jonathan’s Golf Club Course

Developed from the Old Jonathan’s Golf Course, the new design by Gil Hanse sits on a large piece of land in Arthur Hills. The renovated course is set to open later in the year.

Phil Smiths Black Desert Resort

Situated on the outskirts of Zion national park, the course is Smith’s greatest design with modern features. It is set to open in the mid of the year.

Golf Courses to Solar Farms

While new golf courses are being built, there is a trend of golf courses being turned into solar farms. The environmental impacts of golf courses, particularly the water usage is raising a lot of red flags. Not to mention the cost of water is increasing while the west continues to be under a severe drought. Add in a housing shortage and if golf courses aren’t being turned into solar farms, a developer is definitely eyeing the property.

And before you throw your hands up in disgust, the amount of money being tossed at golf course owners is nothing to sneeze at. Put yourself in their shoes.

Final Thoughts On Golf Popularity

The popularity of golf is on the rise, especially among the young generation. This popularity however is facing challenges such as affordability, environmental concerns, and golf course profitability. It is not clear whether the upward trend will continue or not as people regain normalcy after the pandemic. However, just about everywhere you look, there is a shortage of housing, and energy production is on the rise. Golf courses stand in the way of both of these.

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