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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Retire and play more golf – maybe not

According to an article in the New York Times the total number of people who play has declined or remained flat each year since 2000 (according to the National Golf Foundation and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association).

More troubling, if you are in the golf business, is the fall in the number of people who play 25 times a year or more. This has gone from 6.9 million in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2005.

The disappearance of golfers over the past several years is part of a broader decline in the US’s love of outdoor activities — including tennis, swimming, hiking, biking and downhill skiing.

Their has been expectations for a golf bonanza, paralleling Baby Boomer retirements, that has led to what is now considered a vast overbuilding of golf courses. Between 1990 and 2003, developers built more than 3,000 new golf courses in the United States, bringing the total to about 16,000. Several hundred have closed in the last few years.

The article gives lots of explanations for golf’s problems. I suspect that it simply a change in fashion. In the past the theory was, retire and improve your golf handicap. Life is no longer like that and instead of stopping work and settling down into a long slow round of golf ending on the final tee beside heaven’s gate, older people have far more adventourous ideas. I wonder what this means to the raft of golf-centric retirement villages that are planned to open? Dick Stroud

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