“Hello, Ball!”

Apparently fewer people these days are “addressing the ball”.

The golf business is way down, for a few different reasons that we could all probably guess: too many courses competing for the precious time of busy parents. But the biggest decrease in play happened right after 9/11, due to a decrease in corporate golf on Fridays. This is the first I’d ever heard about that.

Some of the details:

According to the National Golf Foundation, the average number of rounds per course nationally has dropped from a peak of 40,040 per year in 1988 to a low of 33,300 last year, with the biggest dip taking place after 2001.

The number of core golfers—those playing eight or more rounds per year—has dropped from 17.7 million in 2000 to 15 million last year.

And perhaps the most telling statistic: For the first time in more than 60 years, the number of course closings nationally (146 18-hole equivalents) outpaced openings (119.5) by 26.5 in 2006.

Interesting that the number of core golfers has dropped so dramatically in just 7 years, from 17.7M to only 15M, a drop of ~15%. Maybe there is something demographically going on here too?
So, prices will be falling. Actually, they already have, at least in this area. This is particularly good news for me, since I decided (just this summer) to start playing again, and both my young boys (8 and almost 6) want to play too. We just bought some used clubs for the 8 year old, and will probably get some soon for the youngest, too.

Ironically, though the article cites “spending more time with their kids” as one of the reasons play is down, I plan on playing at least a few times every year with my boys, with the main obstacle being the money it costs to play. I see it as a good way to spend time with them by doing something together.

I didn’t have that with my Dad, and it impacted our relationship, as I grew up and had my own family, although I didn’t realize just why that was until recently. We didn’t have any rituals where we got together and did something, like golf, fishing, etc. I don’t want that to happen to me and my kids.

So I guess what I’m saying is that in the name of family togetherness, the boys and I will be out there chasing a little white ball into the woods and streams and lakes of various golf courses in the Chicago area. But at least we’ll be doing something together. We’ve already been to the range a few times, and I took the 8 year old to a par 3 course while on vacation a few weeks back. He wants to play all the time now.

Hmmm.

It’s possible we’ve made a very serious mistake.

Repeat to self: “It’s only money … it’s only money … it’s only money … “

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