Is golf really just a sport that caters to rich old men? Just look at any golf magazine. You’ll see advertisements for Rolex watches, BMWs, and Viagra – all fodder for an aging male audience. Is golf truly a past time for an elite pocket of people in this country or is this an unfair assessment?
For the most part, it’s true. Golf has largely been a rich man’s game. Golf has been started by, managed by, and played by a mostly male segment of the population. And it just so happens that this segment tends to be rich, influential, and exclusive.
However, we think the industry is changing. In this blog post, we’ve put together the top 5 complaints about golf and address them head on. We think now is a good time to talk about these issues.
1. Golf is too expensive.
Did you know the green fee at Pebble Beach, one of the most famous golf courses in the world, is $495? Yikes. Who can afford that? No wonder golf is having trouble shaking its reputation for only being a rich man’s sport. And what about the equipment? Buying a set of clubs can cost you hundreds of dollars if you want the latest models. But do you really have to spend all your hard earned money on the best golf courses and the best equipment? Of course not.
There are plenty of public courses where green fees can easily stick within your budget. Many public courses start at around $40 – an affordable price for a day of golfing. You can visit a cool website called TeeOff here to find the closest golf course at a price that works for you.
As for the golf clubs, you can rent them when you’re at the golf course. This is especially useful for beginners who need to try the game out before sinking money into expensive equipment. But if you want to take the plunge, there are plenty of used club options on 3balls, of course.
Another expensive part of the game are the clothes. Many people think it’s a necessity to wear the most fashion forward pieces out there. Honestly, any discounted collared shirt and pair of golf pants will do. Here’s an outfit you can easily afford that’s under $60:
2. Golf is too preppy/elitist.
In an interview with Fortune, Donald Trump said about golf, “It may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs.” While Donald Trump owns multiple golf courses and has about 4% of his empire invested in the sport, we think golf is for everybody. In fact, many golf courses are catering to a more budget conscious younger crowd as well as families.
One reason golf is considered elitist is because for a long time the vast majority of courses were not public. Only old dudes with some money could become members. Take Augusta National Golf Club. It was a men-only club until 2012. Billy Payne, Augusta National chairman, finally invited former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first female members. There are only a few men-only clubs still out there but they aren’t as common.
Another reason for the elitist reputation are the participants. Most of them are just extraordinary. Professional players are earning millions of dollars and getting contracts with companies like Nike, adidas, TaylorMade, and Callaway. An endorsement with one of these brands means players receive their own product lines. But don’t get upset. Many sports like baseball, football, and soccer give athletes high profile deals. Golf still appeals to the masses and turns no one away. In reality, there are golfers from a mixed group of people.
Golf is elitist because it requires dedication and sacrifice. You have to be willing to invest some time and energy into the sport. You need equipment and access to a golf course. This isn’t that hard to overcome though. You just need the right tools and a good location that fits your budget and schedule. For this reason, we think that if there’s a will there’s a way. You can find a way to enjoy golf if you want to.
3. Golf is environmentally wasteful.
There is some truth to this statement so we wouldn’t dare say all courses are doing a great job of being sustainable. It takes a tremendous amount of seeding, water, pesticides and mowing to keep a golf course in tip top shape. However, there is some movement toward creating environmentally friendly golf courses around the country.
More golf superintendents are willing to let their golf courses show some brown, especially during times of drought. And there are courses like the Vineyard Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. This place is remarkable because it’s America’s only truly organic golf course. There are no pesticides or chemical treatments allowed. Visitors also must clean their shoes before entering so they don’t track in weeds. Check out their website to see what the club is like here.
Sometimes golf can have a positive impact on the land, a degraded area, for instance. Over the past four decades, about 70 golf courses have been built on landfills. One such place, Harborside International Golf Course, was a dumping ground for Chicago’s municipal solid waste. After capping the top of the landfill with impervious clay, the city created an 18-hole championship course. On top of renewing the land, the golf course has brought back jobs to the area. You can view the club’s website here.
4. Golf is too hard to play.
According to the National Golf Foundation, the annual participation in golf is declining. Roughly 2.2 million Americans aged 6 and older played golf for the first time in 2015. In the same year, the number of participants fell to 24.1 million from 24.7 million. Why is this happening?
Tiger Woods shares his sentiment about why the number of golfers is decreasing: “How do you keep them still interested in it? How do you keep it fun? That’s one of the things we’re running into right now with the game of golf. It’s just stagnant. We have people come into the game but they exit the game. There’s no sustainability.”
Most beginners who play the game never experience “shot euphoria” – the thrill of one great shot. This keeps most casual players out of the game. It can be humiliating to get out on the golf course and not be able to drive the ball down the fairway like a more experienced player. So how can we make the game easier?
There isn’t any way around it – you have to practice if you want to get better at golf. But there are alternatives. One example is TopGolf, a fast-growing chain of high-tech driving ranges. (See the TopGolf website here.) At TopGolf you can tee off from climate-controlled bays that include flat-panel TVs and tables for drinks and snacks. Balls are fit with computer chips to track where each shot lands. This lets friends compete against each other in games scored like darts. TopGolf is a great way to enjoy golf in a party-like atmosphere.
Another alternative is playing miniature golf. We know it’s not the same as a full-fledged course but heck, its close enough. You’re using the same eye-hand coordination and a club to shoot the ball into a hole. Plus it’s fun to hit the ball through and around silly obstacles. To find a minigolf course near you, visit the Miniature Golf Directory here.
5. Golf is boring.
Come on, people. Golf is not boring. Yes, a few gray-haired men do dodder around on the golf course. But there are a lot of creative solutions to making the game more upbeat, more competitive, and more fun for everybody involved.
An entire 18-hole golf course can take 4-6 hours to play. People find the sport unattractive because it takes too much time away from family or work. One way to make golf more fun is to play fewer holes. Instead, play 9 holes and make the game less of a time commitment.
Do you like seeing your friends suffer? Normally one shouldn’t rejoice at another’s misfortune but in this instance, you might like it. Making a “side bet” during a game is a great way to spice things up. Golf and gambling go hand-in-glove for many golfers. And who says you have to bet money? Some golfers turn bets into a dare or a drinking game. Everything is more fun when you’re sloshed. To see some of the favorite betting games golfers like to play, visit an article by Golf Digest here.
Lastly, you can bring your portable music player to the golf course and turn on the best mixes you’ve put together. Golf courses used to frown upon music but now more golfers are playing tunes as a way to liven up the game. You can put this Heritage Creations 3balls Bluetooth speaker on the back of your cart or use your headphones as a way to eliminate noise or distractions. The USGA prohibits the “use of headphones or earplugs” in competition, but many people are ignoring this rule during practice rounds. We’re giving you full license to rebel.