Studies showed that from 2000 - 2005 golf was on the incline. More golfers were taking up the game and more golf courses were being built. From 2005- 2010 however all that changed and went the opposite direction. A direction things have continued towards to this day. For example in 2012, 14 new golf courses opened, but 157 closed that same year.
Forbes did a great article in May of 2014 suggesting How A Declining Middle Class Is Killing Golf. That may be true as the economy has declined, but that would also say that only those who can not really afford golf stop playing. There are many who can afford anything they want and still have either not tried to pick up the game or who have quit.
The number one reason given why people give up the game is time. The world has gotten itself in such a hurry not many people enjoy anything leisure anymore. People use all sorts of excuses why they can't find the time, but most of it is just that, an excuse. This is not to say some legitimately do not have the time, just that mostly lack of time is a cop-out. Yes golf on any given day to play 18-holes will take 5 or 6 hours out of your day, including travel to and from the golf course, however anyone can always find and make time, if time is really their issue.
The second biggest reason is due to the cost to play golf. This is probably a more legitimate reason people quit or never take up golf. There are many affordable golf courses around the country and many for under $20. If you break down the average 4hrs it takes to play 18-holes that breaks down to $5 per hour of entertainment. You can't go watch a 1 and half hour movie for that price. With companies like Golf 18 Network they are helping make golf more affordable as well.
There are many more reasons people use, but no matter what the reason we, as golfers and sports fans, need to figure out how to introduce more people to the game. There has to more reasons why people under 30 years old have not picked up golf. They are the future of golf and someone has to get to the bottom of the real reasons.
We know to invest in golf can be expensive, but it does not have to be. There are many ways to pick up the game without it costing a great deal. Only if you become a serious or avid golfer will you need to invest more.(an avid golfer is described as one that spends $1500 or more on golf annually) You can get a full set of golf clubs with bag for a quarter of what it cost to say have the sets a pro has. This MacGregor M65T 14-Piece Full Set is only $400 from Golfsmith, where as a set like the pros have would cost upwards of $2500. You also do not need to spend $50 for a dozen of golf balls. You can get a Pinnacle Gold Golf Ball 15 ball pack for around $16.
The truth about why golf is declining is peoples perception. When you perceive something takes to long you will not try and make or find the time for it. Why would anyone take up a game that is being talked about so negatively? All the recent negativity towards golf as a recreational sport will make someone perceive it as bad.
Perhaps we as golfers have been spoiled by the new turf technologies and well maintained conditions that we perceive a courses quality by its price. There is some truth that by knowing the price you can somewhat predict the conditions and facilities at the course. Courses with a green fees under $30 usually are not as well maintained as a $50 or $60 green fee course, however that is not always the case. The more expensive the course just usually means the more consistent the conditions are from day to day, but that is not saying the cheaper golf courses are not as well maintained for their budget.
Sadly no matter what people say about time or cost there is a solution. There is a course to fit everyone's budget and even course that take up less time to play. Executive courses or par 3 courses take about half the time as a regulation size course. Two great examples are the short course at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trails, Magnolia Grove in Mobile, AL and the executive course of Audubon Park Golf Course in New Orleans, LA.
One of the other big questions the golf industry has asked is if Tiger Woods difficulties on and off the course over the years has turned some people away from the game. There is no denying when he first cam eon to the scene that he peaked an interest in golf and undoubtedly more people picked up the game for the first time. Could the issues and challenges he has faced have been bad for the game however? We honestly do not believe it is, but there is no proof one way or the other. Perhaps the industry is looking for a scapegoat.
No matter what the reasons are, there has to be a way to get more people involved in golf. We need to get more junior golfers to start playing and find a way to introduce the game others. Forget about those that no longer play, we need to find the ones that have never had the chance to play, what we consider the best game ever invented. So lets....