By George Schissler
By definition golf is a game played on a large outdoor course with a series
of 9 or 18 holes spaced far apart, the object being to propel a small, hard
ball with the use of various clubs into each hole with as few strokes as
Well, we all know that and we also know that it is not easy. Winston
Churchill described golf as "a good walk spoiled" and his definition more
aptly fits most golfers’ games. But try as we might there is solace in the
fact that players before us, and those who are to follow will contend with
the same problems players have faced for centuries. Although in
this country we have not fought the fight as long as its originators back in
the 1600's in Scotland.
The first permanent golf club in this country was organized sometime in the
late 1880's and shortly thereafter (in 1894) the United States Golf
Association came into being and set forth rules for us to follow. As the
game progressed The Professional Golf Association was formed in 1916 and
golf as we know it came into being and the sport has flourished ever since.
How much has the sport gained in popularity is evidenced by the fact that
today there are approximately 16,200 courses operating in the United States
and of that number 12,000 are available for public use. (World-wide 32,000
courses are presently open for play). And more courses are being constructed
each year. In 2004 150 new facilities were built in this country, although
experts contend that they are real estate driven and not necessarily a
demand from the golfing public.
And just who are these American golf enthusiasts?
At present there are 12.8 million adult golfers in this country who play at
least eight times a year with the overall average hitting the links 37 times
a season. The makeup of this group breaks into 10.2 million male and 2.5
million female players. There is also an additional 14.6 million adult
golfers who play less than eight times a year and 2.9 million junior
participants ages 12-17. All total it is estimated that 30 million people
are committed in varying degree to the sport of golf.
Where do all these players put in time playing the game? Of the 16,000 plus
courses the greatest number call Florida home. The state boasts almost 1.100
courses; California comes in second (925); then Texas (857); Michigan (852);
and New York (822) but new courses are being built with regularity.
Another interesting fact is that public courses in this country charge an
average fee of $35 for 18 holes for golf only, sans cart.
Statistics tell us that the numbers for golf are flat but holding. The
industry cites that although they attract 1 to 1 1/2 million new
participants every year they also lose that number one million each season
through death or disability. The other half million just give up the
Let's see how those who are left score.
Here is the average scoring keeping in mind that only 8% of all golfers
shoot under 80 with the average being 97 (95 for men and 106 for the
percent shoot between 80-89; 31% mark their cards between 90-99; 30% add
their strokes from 100-119 and 11% score 120 plus.
Where does the money go? Golfers spent $24.3 billion (that's with a B) in
2002. Almost 20 billion went directly to green fees, dues and equipment.
Of that amount $19.7 billion accounted for 81% of all expenditures. The
remaining 4.7 billion was spent on equipment alone. Those who played 25
rounds or more annually make up the smallest player segment (23%). but
account for 63% of golf related spending.
Other interesting facts tell us that $26 billion is spent on travel, hotel
and other expenditures by golfers, while not actually contributing to golf
Also 3.7 million or 15% of all golfers live on a golf course.
Regardless of how we score we keep coming back waiting to hit that perfect
shot, sink that winning putt, or just try to better yesterday's score.
That's the beauty of the game. Every day is another chance to do better
because every day is a new game.
Winston Churchill also said something that may encourage golfers not to
give-up but to try harder. "Sure I am of this, that you have only to
endure to conquer."
We may not conquer the game but as golfers we can surely endure.