There are many reports out there concerning the future of golf and those reports do not paint a very rosy long-term picture for the sport. Courses are closing up left and right and rounds played have decreased in recent years. Golf merchandise sales have also declined. Just yesterday, Nike announced that they will no longer make golf equipment like clubs and balls. It certainly appears that the game of golf in this country is dying a slow death. Will it ever recover and be as popular as it was during the Tiger Woods days of the late 90’s? That is anyone’s guess. I have a few ideas that might put some new life back into the sport.
Golf is a huge passion of mine. I have a membership at a local golf course and being at the course brings me joy like few other things in my life. It is a great outdoor activity that I have been hooked on for several years. There is nothing like going out to play a round on a warm summer morning or evening. The smell of the golf course and the sounds and sights of nature make it a very enjoyable experience for me. Of course that is if I am playing well! Those reports have me thinking that I will not be able to enjoy this great game during my retirement years. Will there be anymore golf course left when that time comes?
Things change in our society from year to year and the game of golf has to change as well too. Golf is simply not appealing to many folks in this new day and age of our society. For one thing, people these days do not have the time to play golf. Name one person you know who complains about having too much time on their hands? We all seem to be strapped for our time these days. I personally have to carefully plan my schedule so my golf does not interfere with other things in my life. And I am a single guy! I just don’t know how a person with a growing family can play that much golf. A normal round on a Saturday usually takes about 5 hours. Who has time for that?
On top of the time issue, golf is a very costly sport and in some cases, too costly. The green fees along with the equipment is out the range of most people’s budgets. In these difficult times, an average person simply cannot afford to be playing numerous rounds of golf per year. There are far cheaper sports or past times that people can purse without breaking the bank.
The difficulty of golf is another thing that keeps people away. I see numerous courses which an average player has no business stepping on. In order to be good at golf, you have to play a lot and most folks do not play enough to get enough satisfaction in their own game. It is simply not fun to go out and hack the ball around.
I believe golf can increase in popularity again by addressing these issues. The time issue is very easy to deal with. Just play 9 holes! Most course have that option where you can just play 9 holes. I often just play 9 holes at my course and it usually only takes me about an hour and a half. That is a perfect amount of time for a round. Courses could have 6 holes options too. It would be nice if more shorter 9 hole course were built that especially cater to the younger golfers.
On that note, I think many courses are simply too difficult for the average player. I see so-called family courses that might strike the fear into some golf pros. There is no need to have fancy slopping greens and sand bunkers on every hole. In addition, these courses would be cheaper to maintain and the green fees would be lower.
I honestly think golf will always be there. Far too many people play for it to suddenly die. Many people overestimated the popularity of golf about 20 years ago. It was a booming sport and new golf courses were not being built fast enough. Today is a totally different story. How will the golf industry adapt and make the game more appealing is the big question going forward. It is critical that they target the youth of our country and make golf a cool thing to play. Is that possible in this day and age? Or are kids more interested in playing Pokemon for 2 hours?
For the sake of the sport, golf needs some simple changes right now before it just becomes some exclusive sport played by a bunch of rich people belonging to a private country club. Unfortunately, that trend is happening and a huge group of players like myself will be affected. Golf is not yet dead, but there is a lot more that can be done so more people can enjoy playing this great outdoor activity.
For the most part, I am the type of guy who would rather attend a sporting event than watch it on television. There is just something about being there in person that makes the game or event more interesting. Maybe it is the atmosphere of the stadium or arena that does it for me. I cannot pinpoint exactly why. Of course, there are a few exceptions. It is always nice to enjoy a football game in the comforts of my living room when it is freezing cold outside and snowing. One sport that is so much better to watch on television than in person is a sport that many in this country will focus on today and that is golf and the Masters tournament. It is one sport that is really made for television.
I have attended 3 major golf tournaments in my life, 1 US Open and 2 PGA Championships. One the plus side, it was very thrilling to be up and close to several of the golfers that you always see on television. I will never forget the time when I was only a few feet away from Tiger Woods as he hit a shot. I could clearly hear the conversation that he was having with his caddie. No other sporting event allows fans to be that close to the action. However, it is very rare to be that close to the action particularly at a major. If you are walking the course and following the action, you will probably end up standing behind several rows of people and struggling to see what is happening especially if there are some tall people in the front.
Another big drawback about attending a golf event is not knowing what is happening on the course. Many people tend to choose a certain location such as the 18th green to pitch camp for the day. In golf, there is action taking place at many locations all around the golf course. When you watch it on television, you never miss something exciting that may have taken place. Many golf tournaments do allow any type of electronic devices such as smartphones so you have no real way of tracking the progress of the tournament. The only way is by constantly looking at some scoreboard which is often behind schedule in getting updated.
Now if you watch golf on television, those problems do not exist. You have an idea as to what is going on at all times. If someone makes a great shot and takes the lead, you see it instead of just hearing a big roar in the distance. The networks who telecast these events do a great job of jumping around the action as well as having reporters on the ground who can give the viewers some valuable insight on the action. The only drawbacks to watching it on television is of course the announcers. I personally do not have a problem with any of them, but some folks really seem to have a hard time listening to some of those guys.
I would never again shell out big bucks to attend a big time golf event in person. It is a total waste of money. When you can only see a limited amount of action, it is just better to stay home and watch it on television. Golf events are made for television, not attending as a spectator.
One the biggest story lines coming out this weekend’s PGA tournament in Whistling Straits is yet another missed cut for Tiger Woods. If you’re keeping score at home, that is now 3 straight missed cuts in majors for Woods who is now ranked 278th in the official world rankings after being the top golfer in the world for so many years. His downfall has been absolutely shocking. If someone would have told me about 7 years ago that Woods would be the 278th ranked golfer in the world on August 16th 2015, I would have asked what drugs he or she is on. Back then, Tiger could probably play left-handed and still be in the top 100. It was not a question on whether Woods could break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major champion wins, but rather when. He dominated the sport in a 10 year stretch that few golfers ever have. I have never seen in all my years of watching sports such a high-profile athlete fall like Woods has.
So what is the problem with Woods? Why has he fallen so dramatically? These questions get constantly asked by the golf pundits. The Golf Channel’s crew at the PGA spent a considerable amount of time talking about Tiger’s game and whether he will ever win another major. The consenus of many in the gold world is that Woods is finished as being a top flight golfer and will be just another regular average golfer from now on. As a fan of the sport and player, I am definitely in the minority in saying that Woods still has some bullets left in his gun; he is not finished by any means. It would not shock me in the least to see him rise back again to a high level and possible win a few more majors.
There has been a lot of talk about Woods having multiple swing coaches during his career and whether that is really a good thing for him or any golfer. My question is why change a good thing? Even when Woods was dominating and hitting the ball well, he was constantly changing his coaches. He had some of the best coaches in the game. Apparently, Woods is one of these guys who can never be satisfied with his golf swing. Perhaps he was and is still too much of a perfectionist. A good golf swing should be a simple natural motion. No matter how ugly it may look, the only thing that matters is for consistent results. Woods needs to go back to Butch Harmon and get his swing straightened out.
Sure, Woods at times has had problems with his swing but in order for him to really achieve greatness again, his short game really has to come around. During his glory days, Tiger used to be money on those clutch short putts. Nowadays, he is really struggling to make anything! Forget about fixing his swing, if his putting and chipping do not improve, Woods will definitely not come back and win anything. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a 20 handicapped golfer when I see Woods trying to chip the ball or ball out of a bunker. It is even more shocking to see him struggle in that part of the game as opposed to swing.
Many people who cover golf fail to mention the effect of his injuries in recent years. A back problem is very toxic to any level golfer. Woods has battled back issues in recent years and that could be why he has suddenly dropped off. It appears that Woods is recovering nicely from those injuries and that may be key in helping him regain his winning ways. I doubt any golfer with back issues can play at a high level. The margin of error in golf these days is just too small. There are just too many good players, especially younger players. His injuries are definitely a reason that he has fallen so dramatically.
Whether you like or hate Woods, you have to admit that his return to greatness would be huge for the world of golf. Imagine a major with him, Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy competing for the title? It would create interest that golf has never seen. I still believe it will happen eventually. Sure Woods will be turning 40 this year, but let’s not write his obituary just yet. If anyone can come back, it’s Woods. He still has a little bit of gas left in his tank to compete at a high level and beat some of the young phenoms in golf. He may not dominate golf again like he used to, but he could soon be a strong contender in many tournaments.
Chances are that anyone who has plays sports fantasizes or dreams of doing something big in their sport. For myself who has played many sports, those fantasies are many. I would love to play 5 minutes in an NBA game at Madison Square Garden. Or I often dream about representing my country in the Olympics as a track and field star. As an avid golfer, this weekend is about my biggest golf fantasy, playing in the Masters golf tournament.
The Masters golf tournament, in my humble opinion, is the premier golf tournament in the world. There are many other tournaments around the world, but how can you beat the Masters with all that tradition? It is played at probably the most famous golf course in the world, Augusta National. Sometimes I wonder if God is showing millions a television viewers a glimpse of heaven while watching the tournament.on the television. Those beautiful flowers, creeks and trees lining the course makes for some serious viewing pleasure. Now imagine if your playing in the tournament? What an honor that would be to play at such a beautiful place with so much tradition and history. It would be an honor of a lifetime to play at the Masters. Now lets take it one step further; suppose you were about the win the tournament. Imagine walking down the 18th fairway with the crowd cheering and that green jacket within your reach. It gives me chills up my spine just thinking about! I often fantasize about making a 15 foot putt to win my first Masters in dramatic fashion. It is safe to say that many golfers of all levels dream about playing in the Masters and winning it.
I personally would be happy to just play a round at that course. There are 5 golf courses that I would love to play before I die and Augusta National is at the top of the list. I could care less if I was playing bad. I would be in awe from just being there. Perhaps some day, I will pull some strings and get that much coveted chance of a lifetime. Unfortunately, my game is not quite up to par, pardon the pun, to qualify for the Masters tournament. It is my understanding that 14 handicap golfers do not qualify and get invited to play. Oh darn!!
In the meantime, I will just have to be happy and content with playing at my little local course where I am a member. I can always pretend that the little creek off the 6th hole is Ray’s Creek. Or the final 3 holes is like playing Amen Corner. Yes, watching the Masters golf tournament this weekend is giving us a chance to watch what would be the ultimate experience for any golfer. There is no other place I would rather play than at Augusta National. To win the golf tournament and put on the green jacket would be my ultimate fantasy.
Throughout my life, I have played a wide variety of sports ranging from individual sports such as wrestling, tennis and track and field to team sports such as basketball, baseball, softball, flag football and volleyball. Surprisingly, none of these sports compares to the toughest sport that I have ever played and that would be golf, yes golf!! You would think that some sport which involves just hitting some little white ball around some well manicured piece of property would not be that difficult, but it has given me fits ever since I started to play.
Sure there are other sports that are far more demanding on the body and involve a great deal more athletic ability. However, I have not played a sport which combines a greater combination of skill level and mental toughness than golf. Many top-notch athletes from other sports get easily humbled when they first step onto a golf course. Playing good golf involves more just hitting the ball a country mile. There are shots from all kinds of lengths that you have to master. A lot of golfers can hit long straight drives only to hit their short approach well off-line. And of course, you have putting which is a whole different skill in itself. About 2/3 of all shots in golf come from within 100 yards of the pin. Hitting shots from those distances requires a very unique set of skills that very few sports require.
I think what really separates golf from other sports that I play or have played is the mental aspect of the sport. It is by far, the most nerve-racking sport that I have ever been involved with. A few weeks ago, I decided to play in a golf tournament and see how I could do against other players from my club. To my surprise, I played much better than expected and found myself near the top of the leaderboard. “Hey, I can win this tournament” was my thought going into the last round. That is when the pressure really started to mount. I knew that one bad shot could cost me the tournament. My heart was racing on every shot. Unfortunately, I came up a few shots short from winning but it was an experience that I will never forget. Never have I experienced that type of pressure in a sporting event. I have played in many basketball games and not felt that type of pressure. All sports involve some degree of pressure in competition, but I will put golf up against any sport.
In some ways, playing golf has helped me succeed in other sports as well as life in general. One of the greatest things about golf is that it teaches you how to deal with adversity. If I happen to make a mistake at work, I look at it like I would if I were on the golf course. I just bogeyed a hole and need to forget about it and move on. When I play other sports, golf has taught me how to concentrate, especially under pressure.
If anyone out there wants to try a challenging new hobby and sport, golf might be the sport for you. Believe me, you will be challenged. Several years ago, I decided to give this sport a try thinking that it would be a breeze. It was a very humbling experience at first. Old senior citizens were kicking my butt!! But I was determined to get better and soon after I became hooked on golf. Funny how a sport that seems so simple can be so difficult. Of all the sports that I have played in my life, golf required the least athletic ability, yet for me was the toughest to master, go figure!!
Hey all you golfers out there, suppose you happened to win the grand prize of some golfer magazine’s big contest. The award is a free round of golf at any course in the world along with choosing your dream celebrity foursome. Who would you pick and what course would you play at? Being an avid golfer, I would have to pick Augusta National as my dream course with Pebble Beach coming in at a close second. Some of the courses in Scotland would also get serious consideration. Now the hard part, who would I pick to fill out my foursome? Surprisingly, Tiger Woods would not be one of my first picks. I have no definite reason why. After all, why wouldn’t anyone want to play a round with arguably, the greatest golfer in the history of the game? I guess maybe I would be way too self conscience with my game to enjoy playing with Woods, or as a matter of fact, any pro. However, there is one exception on my list. Without any further delay, I have listed a couple of dream foursomes that I would pick.
1. President Barack Obama. We are miles apart in our political views, but I actually think the President is a decent man who would be a fun playing partner. Him and I actually have a few things in common such as our love for basketball and other sports. After our round, we could go to the gym and play a little pickup basketball. I would be interested to see if the President makes as many excuses on the golf course as he does in office. Perhaps he would blame some Republican for missing that 3 foot putt! Any golfer should relish the chance to play a round with the President whether you agree with his policies or not.
2. Justin Timberlake. I love his music and he seems like a really cool, down to earth celebrity to enjoy a round with.
3. Natalie Gulbis. What male would not want a hot babe to round out his foursome? She is a pro which breaks my rule about playing with professionals, but as they say, there is an exception to every rule. She is one of the reasons that I occasionally watch women’s golf.
Now for my second foursome:
1. Former President George W. Bush. I was not necessarily his biggest fan, but like Obama, playing golf with any president, past or present would be a special treat. He seems like a very likable and friendly guy as well, someone who you would like, not only play golf with, but have dinner as well.
2. Charles Barkley. Barkley would be fun to play with because he is very articulate about many topics and doesn’t seem to take himself too serious, especially his golf game. The fact that he is a fellow basketball lover and former player does help in my decision to include him in one of my foursomes. We could talk plenty of hoops during our round.
3. Cameron Diaz. Another hottie who happens to play golf. I am just worried that Barkley would pay too much attention to her and neglect GW and myself!!
Both Barkley and Diaz are lousy golfers so this round might take forever!
So who would round out your celebrity foursome? Some day 20 years from now, you can look back and remember the day when you teed it up with the president or some famous actor or singer. How great would that be! In the meantime, I will just have to settle playing with normal Joe’s and Jane’s at my golf course. Oh well, it is always nice to dream a little.