Should golf courses listen to game fans who are predicting a sharp drop in participation in the near future? Should they tweak the game and gear to stay in business, or will this just alienate their existing customer base? The arguments on both sides have merit.

Not as popular as it used to be

Playing the game as a pleasurable pastime continues to elude later Generation-Xers, Generation-Yers, and Millennials. Participation has decreased by as much as 5 million players in the last decade. This is mainly due to the sport’s older demographic getting too old to play and eventually disappearing. Unbeknownst to the younger generation, many experts fear that the game will eventually run out. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the younger crowd feels that the sport is too difficult, takes too long to play, and has too many meaningless rules to abide by, and is therefore not fun.

a second chance

Golf courses are now beginning to think ahead and are considering changing the game to stay in business. To attract young people, professional associations and club owners are considering a number of tactics to encourage participation. One of these suggested improvements is the construction of golf courses for novices and children that have 15-inch holes. Another suggestion is to promote the idea of ​​six-hole golf courses to hook the instant gratification crowd with quick games. So far, these strategies have succeeded in attracting some of the younger crowd to try the sport at least once, rather than dismiss it out of intimidation.

not everyone is celebrating

However, not everyone is happy with the idea of ​​completely reorganizing the rules of a game steeped in many years of tradition. Those who take the sport seriously, whether professionally or recreationally, take offense when the game is changed, regardless of the possible outcome of new ideas. It’s not that gamers are divided along generation lines, or that gamers are afraid to mess with the status quo; it’s more a matter of experts taking pride in their chosen sport, and their steadfast adherence to its preservation is a reflection of the time and dedication they put into mastering their game. Many feel that making the game easier and faster cheapens the experience.

No one can predict the future

Those on both sides of this discussion are making good points. Any sport needs new blood to carry on its legacy. If interest starts to wane, then there’s nothing wrong with doing whatever it takes to renew interest in the game. But, it can also be said that it is unfair to renew a sport that many continue to be passionate about and tirelessly defend. It remains to be seen if more golf courses will implement any of the suggested mods and what results these changes will bring with regard to engaging future generations in the game.