I honestly wasn’t sure John was still alive. Last I heard he was being held for spousal abuse. That coupled with the fact, he was fighting ongoing alcohol demons, and hasn’t been heard from in along time, led me to believe he might be in the 19th hole, in the sky.
So……..when I heard John Daly had won the Inspirit Invitational, on the Champions Tour, I said to myself that that was a true WTF moment, for golf. I love it. He hadn’t won since 2004.
Since 2004, he has gone through various challenges, including drinking problems, eating disorder, 4 wives, and losing his tour card twice.. he also had fallen so far, that he was driving to tournaments, and setting up a table to sell John Daly hats, t-shirts, and coffee mugs.
But even in those down times, he still had a huge fan base, so he was given several sponsor exemptions. his galleries many times outnumbered the major stars. A golf writer did piece on Daly, where he addressed his popularity. The result of his mini-poll, was that they were first attracted to Daly when exploded on the scene, with mammoth drives. Then they realized he was one of us. He drank, He smoked. He loved food. He was a blue collar redneck, who happened to golf, not a hybrid from the country club life.
As I was leaving the Erin Hills Golf Course, on Friday, after the second round of the 2017 US Open, I heard a guy in the parking lot shouting “Nobody’s going to win, Nobody’s going to win the US Open”.
I’m sure he didn’t mean it literally. He more than likely meant that whoever wins, will be a nobody.
8 of the top 10 golfers in the world missed the cut; including the top 3 golfers ; Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day. Based on the leader board, after the first two rounds, the Top Ten looks like the winner could be someone, we are not too familiar with.
The Top Ten are.
Paul Casey (-7) recognizable name.
Brian Hartman (-7) never heard of him.
Tommy Fleetwood (-7 ) if he plays with Fleetwood Mac.
Brooks Koepka (-7 ) recognizable name.
Jamie Lovemark (-6 ) Never heard of him.
Rickie Fowler (-6 ) Obviously one of the top golfers in the world.
J.B. Holmes (-6 ) A good regular tour player.
Si Woo Kim (-6 ) Never heard of him, unless he was on the LPGA
Xander Schauffele (-5 ) Maybe its a new PGA dance move.
Cameron Champ ( 5 ) Another no name for me.
I follow the PGA pretty closely, so If I haven’t heard of them, I’m sure that other than their parents. the general public hasn’t heard of them either. One thing for sure, is that if one of the no names wins, his name will be recognizable next year.
Several golf courses have recently closed in the Minneapolis area. One of the cities oldest and perhaps most storied public course, Hiawatha is close to closing. This is the same story around the country. The number of golfers has declined from 30 million in 2003 to 23 million in 2016. Causing more concern is the fact of 18-34 year olds declining 30% since 2000.
What is causing this decline in the popularity of golf:
- Tiger Woods fading from the national spotlight, as well as he losing followers following his indiscretions with an array of women, and the divorce from his wife. When Tiger was hot, the golfing industry was hot.
- The younger generation of today, don’t want to, or can’t spend 6 hours on Saturday or Sunday golfing, especially if they kids in AAU sponsored youth programs. They have tournaments all over the globe, every weekend, many times overnight. Doesn’t leave much time for swinging the sticks.
- With more wives working than ever before, the alpha character has to spend more time helping with the daily chores, such as; grocery shopping, yard work, gardening, and honeydo activities.
- The pro golfers who get better every year, now averaging over 300 yards a drive, have basically been the reason, courses are getting longer and tougher. The weekend golfer is not looking for longer and more difficult courses. He’d just like to break 90 and have a fun round. Yet that isn’t happening.
- The overall cost of golfing has become a major expense for some, with green fees well over $100 on public courses, along with $25 for a cart, and expense in the bar, after your round. Not to mention the expense of new equipment, like a new Bertha, or that new putter, or how about those new golf balls, that will give you an extra 25 yards.
- The pressure on weekend golfers to drive the ball farther, bragging rights in the clubhouse. As that 500 yard hole becomes 600 yards, and you still are 220 off the tee, you don’t stand a chance of getting par, which is what all of us play for. Right? Nobody wants to something they are not good at.
How many guys do you know, that fits many of those factors? What can be done to stop the decline?
- Set up courses that you can play in 2 hours. Make 9 hole courses that are shorter than the typical 3,500 yards.
- Set up a grouping of different 3 hole groupings, or maybe a fun five hole course, that you could play after work. Maybe even come home and get junior, and help him get involved in golfing.
- Attempting something like this would be difficult for some, but it might get rid of the ” mines bigger than yours” mentality.
What I do know, is that without some major changes, golf will continue to lose about 5% of its current base every year. Couple that with the fact that only 5% of the population under 21 golfs.