Golf Writer, Keith Cook, looks at the upcoming end of the golf season.
With cold mornings, the leaves changing, and, once again, dressing in three layers to play, another golf season begins its long curtain call here in the Midwest.
At the end of the season, there will be a thousand articles on “Golf’s Year in Review” where writers will discuss Jordan Spieth’s amazing year, how Suzann Petterson’s non-gimme putt reminds all of us of at least one golfer we play with, and how the younger generation is carrying the game forward as modern stars like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson begin to fade into the distance.
However, with respect to the Touring Pros; golf is not all about the Professional game. Golf is, and has always been, about a personal challenge and a personal experience. We love, enjoy, hate, or despise our own golf games; sometimes feeling all of those emotions in one round.
It’s cool to know Jordan Spieth won $22 million dollars in 2015, but the reality is, most golfers are thinking about THEIR games … and where THEIR games are at this exact moment in time.
Having played golf for coming up on 30-years, I know one thing for sure. If golf were all about the score, we’d all quit. Golf is an unsolvable puzzle where we can become overly obsessed with getting better and in that drive to improve, sometimes forget it’s also about the larger picture … the personal picture.
From my personal picture, this year I’ve witnessed two holes-in-one. One was the first-ever for a guy who’s played golf for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. The other was a hole-in-one, but in the wrong hole on a double green! That sucks, but a free drop and two putts later … nice par!
Personally, my attitude this year was adjusted by one of my worse shots. I was well left off the tee in the rough (nothing new for my game) and followed that up with a nasty duck hook, which hit – off of a tree – and ricocheted right into the cup for an eagle. It’s at that point, you have to realize the game of golf is both stupid and awesome at the same time and begin to enjoy it a bit more for its randomness.
I could remember the bad swings, the bad rounds, or the missed putts, but instead it’s the good memories of golf that keep me coming back.
On the golf course in 2015, I’ve seen beautiful sunrises, amazing sunsets, played some good golf, and had a great time. It’s been both a short and long golf season all in one.
In many ways, I can’t wait for the season to be over. However, then again, we’ve still got a month or so of golf left, so I’d better keep my clubs clean, my putting sharp, and get ready to tough it out until next spring!
BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer/blogger/contributing editor at localgolfer.com since 2013. He is a retired U.S. Military Veteran and amateur golfer living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.
Local Golfer’s own, Keith Cook, takes a look at his first year at www.thelocalgolfer.com.
A GREAT YEAR . . . HOW TIME FLIES
One year ago this month, I joined LocalGolfer as a new writer on staff. It was a great opportunity given to me and one I’ll always be grateful for. I mean, what a dream job . . . to get to write about the sport I’ve always loved, GOLF, for a growing and prospering website!
Growing and prospering, because in August 2013, golfers were visiting thelocalgolfer.com to find out about golf courses, write personal reviews of courses, and read course reviews from other members. The numbers for site visits (“clicks”) in 2013 were good, but looking back, the potential for future growth now seems obvious.
A year later, in August 2014, thelocalgolfer.com has now transformed itself into a site where golfers are visiting regularly, to not only read about and review golf courses, but also to read articles about amateur golf, professional golf, and the current topics affecting the world of golf. Golfers are now visiting the site more often and in greater numbers than ever before. THANK YOU!
Here’s a look at just a few of the numbers highlighting LocalGolfer’s successful year.
Since August 2013:
– LocalGolfer.com’s membership growth is up 16% to over 12,000 members.
– Big increases in site traffic, with a jump of 22% in the western United States alone.
However, www.thelocalgolfer.com is not just about tracking “clicks” or visits to the website. No, our priority is to provide you, the golfer, a reason to visit the website. Over the past year, we’ve dedicated ourselves to improving the way in which we present articles and information to the golfer. We’ve worked on our site layout, have incorporated better graphics, and have focused on providing interesting and high-quality writing on the latest topics in golf.
We will continue to strive to provide you all the best in in 2014 and beyond.
HIGHLIGHTS & MY LAST YEAR OF ARTICLES
From a personal perspective, this has been a great year in golf to write about. I have written almost 60 articles for the site in the past year, ranging from my first article discussing the 2013 Solheim Cup, all the way through to the 2014 PGA Championship. Below are my most “clicked” on articles from the past year. The subjects vary widely, but hopefully one or two sparked some interest, debate, and/or provided some enjoyment along the way.
Feel free to click on any (or all) of the articles and re-visit the topic, or enjoy them as a first read if you haven’t seen them yet.
Editor’s Note: Our motto, “Serving golfers with the best—Above all the rest,” is the driving force behind what we do. Keith Cook embodies that motto. When we say, “Find only the best” at LocalGolfer.com, whether it’s looking up a course, reading a course review by real golfers, like you, keeping a handicap, booking tee times, or commenting about what you see and read on the site, we strive to give it our all for our members each and every day. Please let us know how we are doing with a comment in the comments section, or writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org We’d love to hear from you.
BIO: Keith Cook is a Writer and Contributing Editor for localgolfer.com. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer
Golf Writer Keith Cook looks at the reasons Golf is quickly becoming an isolated sport in America . . . but why we shouldn’t lose hope.
“GOLF” IS NOT FEELING WELL
If the sport of “Golf” were a person, he (or she) would have a blood pressure cuff on his arm, a stethoscope on his heart, and a thermometer in his mouth. If you love “Golf” as much as I do, I’ve got some bad news for you; “Golf” is feeling pretty bad right now. This news comes as no surprise to those looking at the numbers of rounds played, new golfers entering the sport, and yes, how the “Tiger effect,” is affecting our sport, as we begin to realize, we became too reliant on one person’s success to move our sport.
Golf is beginning to become isolated, has long been too expensive, too time consuming, and too . . . well, not cool. The facts are golf has been held together by duct tape for a number of years and now, greater than at any point in the game’s history, is being quickly moved onto the sidelines of American Sport. Tough words, and I know you’re thinking, “You’re wrong, I love golf!” Or maybe even, “This dude is crazy, he’s a golf writer and he’s talking like this?” Well, no matter how much you and I love the game, we have to face the fact that golf is in trouble, plain and simple.
TIMES ARE CHANGING
Don’t just take my word for it; let’s look at what the leaders in the industry are saying. Leaders, like Mark King, former President, TaylorMadeGolf, and current President of Adidas Group North America. I’m sure he knows a thing or two about the state of golf.
King, in a recent interview with Bryant Gumbel (Real Sports), stated, “Every macro-indicator that we’ve been looking at for the past 20 years, rounds played, number of minorities playing, women coming into the game, all of these things that we’ve tracked, says that there’s less people playing. And the ones that are playing, are playing less frequently. Young people entering the game after high school, 18 to 30-year-old kids, down 35% in the last ten years. So I just don’t like where the game looks like it’s going. And it’s not in the right direction.”
Let those words soak in for a moment. Does it surprise you that one of the largest golf equipment manufacturers in the world is worried?
Let’s look at some of the other facts.
– According to the National Golf Foundation, in 2014, only 14 new courses (18-holes) were built, while 157 closed their doors, This continues an 8-year trend of more golf courses closing than opening. Those staying positive call this “a market correction.”
– In 2013, golf had a net loss of over 400,000 golfers. Even though nearly 260,000 women joined our game in 2013 (great news), it was significantly offset by a loss of over 650,000 men leaving the sport.
– TV Ratings for golf’s Majors are down 30%. TV Ratings for non-majors, are down 50-60%. Numbers like these, mean current sponsors begin looking at their business cases a little harder, and getting new sponsors/TV contracts, etc. to commit to golf becomes even more difficult.
And in recent weeks:
– Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they were laying off over 500 PGA Golf Professionals because of the realized downturn in the sport. The product line of “Golf” reportedly accounts for about 20% of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ business.
– Golf World Magazine (part of the Golf Digest enterprise), around in hardcopy publication for over 50-years, recently announced no more Golf World in print . . . online only, which began July 28, 2014. Speculation is ramping up that Golf Digest will go down the same path – especially with the launch of the Golf Digest Video Channel and the re-launch of GolfDigest.com in the near future.
With all that data in front of you, you could easily lose hope for golf’s future. But, in my opinion, although we must pay attention to the data and facts, it’s not time to cash it in. There is hope. Keeping with the medical metaphors, a prescription is on the way.
WHAT WILL SAVE GOLF?
Where golf is concerned, FAST is not a word used to describe our sport and TIME is one of the prime enemies standing in the way of growth.
Facts are facts; you simply cannot ask Dads (or Moms) to take 6-7 hours away from their families to play golf anymore.
Course Setup and Saving Time
To turn these numbers around, we (as golfers) need to start the ball rolling . . . as it were. Part of that change, has to start, with the end, of the unrealistic demands of tough course set-ups, perfect greens, U.S. Open layouts, and Augusta-like conditions . . . all for a $20 green fee.
We will all lose unless we change our perspectives on course setup and maintenance. We need to begin to realistically think about these subjects with all golfers in mind and with keeping the growth of the game as our paramount focus.
The first step is to support (or at least understand) course policies such as moving tees forward on weekends (and other busy times), placing flags in the middle of greens, and slowing the greens down a little bit to allow for faster play.
It’s no secret the equipment needed to play our game is expensive. And I’m not talking about the equipment you buy after you’ve been a golfer for a while. I’m talking about just getting started.
Undeniably and unequivocally, the growth of the game depends on lowering the initial entry cost of golf.
Tamping Down the Initial Cost/s of Equipment to Play Our Game
Golf’s future depends on attracting new golfers, however, if you really look at what it costs to get outfitted for our sport, it’s a tough sell. Golf equipment manufacturers need to begin to design sets of clubs again – listen up TaylorMade, PING, Titleist, Adams – vice going for the specialized market of individual club sales. My first set of clubs were Nicklaus Golden Bears. I bought them, Driver through SW + putter + bag, all in one box and as one set. This initial set of clubs allowed me to move away from rentals, to my own set, without having to go into significant debt.
My “perfect world” solution would be the design of an initial entry set of clubs + bag (to be sold as a set) to once again make equipment affordable to the new (and average) golfer. This may help build brand loyalty, would be a great investment, and a positive message for the future, by golf manufacturers.
GOLF IS GREAT RIGHT NOW
All is not lost however, and just as things look bleak, along comes a year like 2014. When we look back at this time in golf’s history, I believe, certain things will have signaled the stabilization of golf (and maybe even the upswing).
The brightest example in 2014, is the success of Women’s golf. The success is high-profile, both on tour, and with the influx of 260,000 new women into the sport over the past two years. Attention manufacturers and marketers: there is a new demographic in golf to pay attention to!
New players and personalities coming forward into the Men’s game and the resurgence of “old” personalities, signal a promising future. Young players like; Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, and Patrick Reed and established players like; Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, and Phil Mickelson are now carrying the game to a new generation of golfers in a post Tiger Woods dominated era.
Great, game changing initiatives, like the Drive, Chip, & Putt Championship, say to a generation of young golfers that golf is thinking about them. It’s no coincidence, young player’s success (like Luci Li) in the Drive, Chip & Putt competitions is leading to other great golf opportunities.
No, it’s not over for golf – actually, it may be the opposite. However, steps must be taken by golfers, golf manufacturers, tour players, and the leadership of golf to “get the ball rolling” again.
Editor’s Note: What do you think about Golf’s Future (positive or negative)? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section. We would love to hear from you.
BIO: Keith Cook is a contributing editor for localgolfer.com. His career highlights include rounds in nearly every US state and numerous countries throughout the world. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.