According to the New York Times, Americans are leaving golf courses in droves:
The total number of people who play has declined or remained flat each year since 2000, dropping to about 26 million from 30 million, according to the National Golf Foundation and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
More troubling to golf boosters, the number of people who play 25 times a year or more fell to 4.6 million in 2005 from 6.9 million in 2000, a loss of about a third.
Those numbers are pretty shocking. I wonder if this is some kind of Tiger Woods-related backlash. A bunch of people started playing golf because of Woods’s stratospheric popularity, but didn’t stick with the game. The article cites the duration of the average game, the high costs, reduction in corporate treats, American apathy towards athletics and shifting family responsibilities as possible reasons for the decline.
The article also discusses declines in other sports–tennis, swimming, hiking, biking and downhill skiing. I also connect this trend with an ongoing reduction in the number of hunters.
Classist, Sexist and Racist
I think this is great news. Golf clubs remain some of the most classist, sexist and racist institutions on the continent. More importantly, golf courses are vast swaths of monoculture grass and huge consumers of fresh water. There are occasional water shortages here in Essaouira because the nearby golf course uses too much of the local water, which is already in short supply. That’s not to mention how inefficient they are in terms of people-per-square-kilometer.
I have a dream. In the next decade, I want cities, provinces and states to buy every bankrupt golf course and turn them into parks, rec centres and other public spaces. I’m sure that this would prove financially inviable, but that’s why it’s a dream.