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1,000,000 Golfers Have Gone Missing

golf popularity

A Million Golfers, huh?


What the hell happened there? I’m not sure if this is some sort of “motivate the base” campaign by the PGA or if this is for real. As far as I know they haven’t lied to me yet, so I have no reason to think they’re lying to us now.


The PGA Tour season has been fun this year, golf on TV is always a nice substitute for the real thing during long, cold New England winters. We’ve seen new names come out early and win like Johnny Vegas and we’ve seen the late bloomer like Mark Wilson finally come into form.

This season has been great and I don’t want you to think I’m discounting Luke Donald’s WGC match play victory, it was impressive, Donald never fails to impress in strong fields. It was nice to see him win. It’s also nice to see a European who is sticking with the Number 1 Tour on Earth.

Seeing Rory Sabatini come back from a skin cancer scare was nice, he has a rep as a hothead but, you have to love his pace of play and his new demeanor (and hat). He stood up against a hell of a golf course where only 16 players went south of par.

Bubba Watson, probably my favorite player on tour right now for too many reasons to mention here. Yes, it was just peachy to see Bubba win early and get a nice jump on Presidents Cup points and the FedEx Cup. We love Bubba here at Golf-Newz and I don’t want the last part of this post to misrepresent this love in any way.

This is great for you and I, we are watching and we will continue to do so because we love these guys. We love the fact that golf channel is playing Euro Tour on weekdays, we can’t get enough!

We, yeah, you and me, are, golf nuts. We don’t count.

When the PGA is tallying these numbers they’re talking about those complete hacks. The ones that put you into a blind rage, the ones that make you say things not fit for Hitler, when they’re in front of you pulling it back for their 9th shot on a par 3.

These are the golfers the PGA wants, they take lessons, they buy stuff based on endorsement, they’re easy targets and they’re fresh blood.

They are not coming into the game as quickly as they used to. Why not?

Before you get too gooey about this and start day dreaming about an empty course in front of you at your next 8:08 am tee time on a Saturday, wake up!

This won’t happen, with less demand comes fewer new courses. There was never a better time to play Saturday golf than at the beginning of Tiger’s reign, when golf courses were going up faster than Starbucks outlets.

In short, fewer players is not good for us, we need newbs just like the PGA does. It’s a fact.

So, why aren’t they showing up? You want to say it’s the economy.

I think it’s simple…. Star-power!

Golf Needs a Known, Media Friendly, Superstar Player to Win!

Let’s assume for a minute that they’re correct with these estimates. We’ve lost 1,000,000 golfers? It seems like an awfully round and neat number but, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Now, before you start screaming “It’s the economy stupid”, let’s take a less “used up” view and try to do some thinking.

I don’t work a 9-5 and I haven’t for years! YAY! This said, I have had the chance to hit the range and various golf courses quite regularly on weekdays. Almost every time I played at my favorite public courses in 2010 I was inevitably paired with someone who was currently un-employed.

They were not just unemployed, but they were also quite pleased about their current state of unemployedness. Each one almost certainly found a way during the round to bring up the fact that the economy (or lack thereof) has helped them sharpen their golf skills and lower their handicaps.

I don’t see how the economy has had a negative impact on the frequency of their rounds, if anything it’s helped.

Has the area of Private Membership been slammed? Absolutely no doubt about it. But that isn’t the economy, its the quality of public play. You can go play great golf these days for $89 once, not $8,900 four times a year.

I would be foolish to think that the economic environment has not hurt golfing communities and real estate based golf projects. It certainly has, so, if the PGA is taking the expected growth and discounting these numbers this way then maybe it is the economy. What I mean here is maybe they were expecting to have 1 million more golfers than we have? Who knows?

I feel that we are bleeding golfers and not adding golfers because we just don’t have the star-power that we had a couple years ago.

Let me share with you how I developed this scientific metric to gauge golf’s popularity.


When my girl friend Sarah, God Bless her, asks me what I’m doing this afternoon (and it just so happens to be Sunday) and I tell her I’m watching the final round of golf, she inevitably asks:

“Oh, who’s playing?”

So, in an effort to build as much value in the final pairings and in an attempt to get out of cleaning or doing anything else that I should probably be doing, I tell her.

Yeah, you know what I’m about to say and where this is going don’t you? For God sakes PGA TOUR, I’m trying to get out of vacuuming here!

“Well Honey, Rory Sabatini is leading by 4, YE Yang is in second, Jerry Kelly, Tommy Gainey and Matt Bettencourt are making a move though”

Next thing you know I have a dust rag in my hand and I’m now listening for the laundry. What the hell just happened!?

I’m not exactly sure but, I do know that two years ago if I said “Tiger is leading, Phil Mickelson is in second and Fred Couples is making a move” I’m continuing my state of near unconscious bliss, on the couch, with a frosty beer and more Doritos than I can handle.

It’s not Bubba’s fault that she doesn’t know who he is? She only knows Bubba as the guy who texts me late at night, she still doesn’t understand the whole twitter thing. Bubba isn’t the problem. ( I need followers by the way Follow Me , I switched profiles when I started this site and I’m all screwed up) She will eventually know Bubba, she just doesn’t know him as anything other than a late night annoyance right now.

The fact is that we are in one of those cyclical trends where there is a new breed of young golfer coming through the ranks and the big names are getting older. I didn’t say OLD, I said older, don’t lose your shit!

For some reason the dominant names in golf right now just aren’t “the names you know”. They aren’t the ones that are making it on the cover of non-golf magazines. They just aren’t the names you hear about around the water cooler.

I’m not complaining, the PGA is complaining, I’m only ranting about their complaining.

Doral is coming up and it sure would be nice to be able to drop some big names this Sunday.

Phil! Tiger! Anybody out there!!!!!!!!!

Tiger, if I wind up cleaning out the garage this Sunday, I’m holding you personally responsible.


  1. Golf popularity may have increased, but according to the National Golf Federation (not Foundation) it is true that participation has declined over the last four years and this year does not look any better. Economics play a role, but there must be something else going on. Is it because the game is too hard, the courses are too tough, it cost too much, it is not fun anymore (for any number of reasons) or are social networks winning the battle for golfers time? Actually there has been a net increase of golf courses over the same time period, but 66% of those were resort or private courses.

    Author of “Triangulate Your Golf Swing.”

  2. Golf Newz says:

    Hey Ron,

    Sorry about the Federation / Foundation thing, my fact checker must have had the day off :-)

    Average people need a leader, they love watching their leaders play and, they want to emulate them. When they wanted to be like Tiger, they went out and played.

    If Facebook is stealing from golf, then we have a bigger problem than I thought, in America, not just in golf demographics.

    Checked your Sqidoo Lens, book sounds interesting.

    Anyone interested in golf should take a peek. (click his name above, or here)

    Thanks for dropping a line Ron!



  3. Ron Celano says:

    The numbers are out. Golf participation is down 13% over the last 5 years and a staggering 3.5% last year alone. I think I have addressed most of the issues in my new book “Why Isn’t Golf Fun Anymore?” now available on Also like to mention that the second edition of “Triangulate Your Golf Swing” is also available on in paperback and Kindle versions.

    Keep up the great commentary.


    • Can’t wait to check out the book, Ron.

      I don’t agree with the title but, I’m sure you’ll make some interesting points.

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