The rising cost of golf is sabotaging measures to introduce new players to the game, writes WADE PRETORIUS in Compleat Golfer.
The rapidly increasing costs has put the game under attack as modern pockets struggle to cope with the demands. Golf continues to promote the belief that it is a rich man’s game and, with the tumultuous economy, there’s little evidence to suggest that this perception will be reversed any time soon.
‘Grow the game’ is a saying used around the world. It’s a noble cause and something everyone who plays the game – at any level – should get behind, but the fight to do so remains incredibly difficult.
Consider a six-year-old child: school starts and he or she has a wealth of sporting options to consider. There’s little doubt golf is the most expensive. Cricket requires some funding, while tennis, rugby and soccer are relatively affordable.
Golf requires a set of clubs, which can cost several thousand Rand, a number of accessories — even golf balls cost about R25-R30 each — and, in many cases, at least a few lessons. From there, better clubs will be required as the child grows older, as will more lessons, because golf is not generally offered as a mainstream school sport.
A teenager will need a membership to a club, which is out of reach for many parents. Full membership also runs to several thousand rand a year, and that’s before you pay greenfees. While there are plenty of initiatives to ease the pain, there are potentially droves of talented young golfers choosing more cost-effective sports.
The game becomes exponentially more expensive as you get older. In the ever-changing equipment environment, rapidly improving technology influences your ability to hit more fairways and greens, which means you cannot have a set of clubs for life if you want to keep up. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, with no clear end in sight.
There has been a growing trend around the country to transform clubs into more than just a place to hit a little white ball around for five hours. Many have taken to offering a variety of activities, catering for all ages, to drive traffic back to clubs and they have had a measure of success.
More stakeholders are buying into the theory that golf cannot survive on the current model, where price and competition from other sports make it unfeasible.
There is a long, long way to go and not one single solution to solving the problems that face this great game, which makes innovation and hard work a must off the course – just as we all know how important it is on the fairways and greens.
Golf will always be an expensive hobby, but if steps are not taken soon to keep costs in check, it will grow increasingly difficult to attract new players, which must always be the top priority.
– This article first appeared in the December issue of Compleat Golfer
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