When it comes to winning over Millennials, the golf industry is scoring a triple bogey. In non-golf terms, not well. According to the National Golf Foundation, over the past 20 years there has been a 30% decrease in participation among 18 to 34 year-old Millennials, so the traditional sport will have to carefully “tee-up” it’s next shot to entice the Millennial generation.
The number of U.S. golfers has dropped 24% from its peak in 2002 and only 14 new courses were built in the U.S. in 2013, while almost 160 shut down. The retail side of the sport is also in dire need of a mulligan. Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. laid off more than 400 specialists as it reduced store space for golf in favor of women’s and youth apparel. Edwin Watts Golf Shops, a chain founded 46 years ago, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
It’s clear that without the support from a new generation of players, the next chapter for golf will be bleak.
Why Millennials aren’t super-psyched about playing golf
- It’s time-intensive. In a fast world, a six hour door-to-door 18-hole round is an eternity.
- It’s costly. According to data from the National Golf Foundation in 2013, the average fee for 18 holes with a golf cart was $52. Millennials could join an Ultimate Frisbee league for the same price where the reversible tank shirt is included.
- It’s difficult to master. Golf is one of the few sports that doesn’t offer a beginner option. There’s no bunny hill for those that don’t know how to play. Perhaps Top Golf (mentioned later) could change that.
- It’s elitist. In many ways golf doesn’t fulfill the Millennial values of inclusion and diversity. The dress codes and country clubs appear “stuffy” in the minds of Millennials.