According to the National Golf Federation (NGF), 3.7 million people took up playing golf last year. That’s a promising number, right? Well, not so much. Also, last year, 4.1 million golfers gave up the game, resulting in a net loss of 400,000 players. Although 260,000 women started playing, that was counterbalanced by 600,000 men deciding to ditch their clubs. By comparison, around 15 years ago, almost 30 million Americans played golf regularly. So, what gives?
In his annual state of the industry speech at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, Jim Koppenhaver pointed out that in terms of age group, the biggest loss came from younger players aged 18-34. Koppenhaver suggested that these players had decided that there were better ways to spend their time and money.
Another disturbing NGF statistic tallies newly built U.S. golf courses at only 14 for this year. Meanwhile, 157 courses have closed. What’s more, last year was the eighth year in succession that saw more courses close than open. These findings would have been inconceivable only a few years ago, as golf had become accustomed to steady growth for decades.
Well aware of golf’s dwindling popularity, The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) created a scheme known as the Golf 2.0 player-development initiative in an effort to reverse the trend. Unfortunately, the campaign has fallen short of its target of 27 million players, achieving only around 24 million, according to Koppenhaver.
Obviously, there needs to be a radical new approach to prevent these figures from dropping further. Fortunately, help is at hand – and it utilizes the latest technology.
Our golf social network and mobile phone app functions to revitalize the golfing industry. Working in conjunction with the PGA and others, the TTPGolf app endeavors to rebuild the game from the ground up. It will particularly appeal to the 18 to 34-year-old demographic – the very age group that gave up playing golf in such large numbers.
Available on both iOS and Android devices, TTPGolf makes it possible for individuals of all skill sets to find a golf partner quickly and easily. Given the constantly diminishing number of available golf courses, the app not only links up golf partners of equivalent skill levels, but also shows members the location of their nearest course.
Doug Hilgenberg, CEO and Founder of Time to Play Golf, sheds light on how the TTPGolf app will benefit and grow this game:
“My personal belief is that the big golf brands, try as they may, cannot grow the game of golf in the same way that golfers can. The growth has to come from the players who are interested in playing and learning the game. Many players, however, are having a hard time finding golf partners and resorting to playing solo. This is unfortunate because they’re just not getting the most from the game and much of their invested time and effort is going to waste.”
In the age of the smartphone, people are accustomed to using their devices to connect with others via shared interests. People want the content that interests them, and they want it immediately.
Time to Play Golf caters to those wants, while simultaneously building increased awareness that will hopefully lead golf toward a much-needed comeback. Thanks to the combined efforts of advocates like the PGA, and tech innovations like our golf network, the game of golf may soon experience a powerful resurgence.
I wrote this piece as I constantly hear negativity in the Golf industry it is very unsettling and off-putting at times. I know that out of our 3,500 plus members each and every one of you are looking to play more golf, and would like to see the game grow. I fully believe that if we work together we can do this.
Create Play Requests- Join and like your favorite courses online and post on the wall your looking to play.
Message other Golfers- Message golfers near you and become friends with others.
Invite your friends to play and join – there is a referral link on the side of the desktop website for you to use to invite your friends to join.
Get your Course Involved! – I am trying to get more an more courses involved on TTPGolf. I could use you help e-mail your course managers and copy doug@ttpgolf on the e-mail. I will reach out to them to get them online to help grow your golf network and their club.
Get involved with Golf programs near you – Join the first tee chapter or heck donate a golf club you will never use to a kid who may be interested.
If you have any ideas on how to grow the game or this network please share your thoughts with us right on the Growing the Game Group 🙂