When Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997 and the First Tee was launched soon after, the golf industry was rewarded with a potential influx of new and inspired youth golfers. The only problem, the influx didn’t create a sustainable solution to golf’s numbers game.
According to the National Golf Foundation, junior golf participation increased between 1995 and 2005 from 2.8 million junior golfers to 3.8 million. Since 2005, however, participation has dropped 21percent to 3 million.
During the same time frame, overall participation by adult golfers dropped 18 percent from 30 million players to 24.7 million.
It has been baffling for a number of reasons, but especially because TV ratings for golf were at its all-time high, the greatest player in the game and perhaps most popular athlete on the planet was center stage along with non-profit groups like the First Tee.
The industry has been committed to growing golf and doing some great things, but the participation fluctuation of the past 20 years demonstrates that we’re not yet in a stable, sustainable period of growth.
The main barriers continue to be availability, affordability, transportation and competition among core team sports like soccer, baseball, football, basketball, and now lacrosse, hockey and more. With caddie programs disappearing across the country, and kids not having access to private clubs or the means to get to golf courses, the industry has struggled with developing the next generation of golfers. In addition, as baby boomers begin to age and play less golf or even leave the game, a primary concern is how they can be replaced. While increasing participation and enticing existing golfers to play more rounds is a priority
While increasing participation and enticing existing golfers to play more rounds is a priority among the industry, developing new golfers through introductory programs over the next two decades will be a critical component to ensuring the games future…
Click here to read the entire article on Tri-State Golfer, which covers how TGA Premier Golf is filling the void in introductory programs and how TGA’s Player Pathway is having a major economic impact across the industry.