Rounds down 4.8% in 2013, Fay says golf will always be niche sport

The final numbers are in for 2013 and rounds fell in the U.S. by 4.8 percent, according to PGA PerformanceTrak.

Every type of U.S. golf property showed a decline – resort properties by 1.2 percent, private courses by 4.4 percent, daily-fee tracks by 5 percent and municipal, military and university courses by 5.9 percent.

The PGA and its data-gathering partners place most of the blame on cold and rainy days and subsequent weather-related closings, for they’ve determined that on playable days last year the average U.S. golf facility attracted more play than it did in 2012 or 2011.

Presumably, that means U.S. course operators have something to look forward to in 2014. But not if you ask the former head of the USGA.

David Fay suggested that golf will forever be a niche sport and that the growth prospects touted in years past by industry promoters were mostly pie in the sky.

“I’ve always been skeptical that the number of golfers people talked about was real,” the former executive director of the U.S. Golf Association confessed to the Wall Street Journal.

Fay’s conclusion: “The industry got bamboozled.”


Please read my web site article published originally in 2000: It was so obvious. Michael A Kahn Golfmak, Inc.

Golf will grow if it becomes very, very affordable. It is too expensive for many families and individuals now.

At our course we have golfers paying $700 per year and walk at least 150 rounds a year. They are golfing for under $5 a round. That is pretty affordable. The golf courses are still losing money due to tremendous expenses of keeping up a golf course. How are courses supposed to offer less expensive golf and stay in business?

Once you get past age 30, I don't think there are really any participation sports that aren't "niche," and golf is among the few that remains popular (and sometimes gains popularity) as people age. The ability to scale the game using different tees ensures its popularity as a healthy lifetime sport. Most other sports do not enjoy this feature.

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