Heading into 2018, how you perceive the golf industry probably depends on if you view a glass as half-full or half-empty.
If you believe a glass is half-empty, then you will might dwell on the negative statistic in a 2016 National Golf Foundation (NGF) report that reveals the total number of golfers in the United States dropped 1.2 percent to 23.8 million for the year. Or you could embrace a September 2017 Golf Datatech statistic that showed total rounds played through September were down 2 percent year over year. Lastly, you read news reports of course closures, including SilverStone and Badlands locally, and deduce that golf courses everywhere must be headed for similar fates.
But if you believe a glass is half full, then you probably embrace other statistics, including a very positive number found in the Golf Datatech report: rounds played in Las Vegas this September were up 13 percent as compared to September 2016.
You will also might share the optimism of Forbes Magazine contributor Eric Matuszewski, who wrote an article earlier this year entitled, “Here’s Why We Should Be Bullish About Golf In 2017.” He began the story with the following words, which still hold true today: “Golf has a big problem. It’s the pervasive – and lazy — narrative that the sport is dying. It’s not just misguided, it’s wrong.”
Also, Golf Digest contributor Mike Stachura analyzed the 2016 NGF stats and revealed there were plenty of positive trends to be found, including:
— The number of beginning golfers increased to 2.5 million, an all-time high.
— The number of “committed golfers” increased to 20.1 million. Committed golfers are people who list golf as their favorite activity, a first increase in this category in five years.
— More than 20 million people participated in off-course golf activities at driving ranges and entertainment facilities, most notably Topgolf, an 11 percent increase.
— The overall number who are “somewhat interested” in taking up golf increased to 40.6 million, with more than a third of those falling into the coveted 18-to-34 year-old age group. This was possibly the most striking revelation in the NGF report.
Positive news for the industry locally is that several Southern Nevada course executives have reported good participation numbers throughout 2017 and wish for the same in 2018.
No matter what your opinion on the state of the game, I ask you to share your beliefs about golf and your golf wishes for 2018. Also, send ideas about what you want covered in this weekly golf notebook and new ideas you believe the golf industry should embrace.
Send your wishes and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A 2018 golf wish
As Tiger Woods continues his comeback, I hope he starts working with Las Vegas instructor Butch Harmon again and also commits to play in the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the scene of his first PGA Tour win (1996).
Locals can play for $31 on Sunday at Las Vegas National, plus get a free drink.
Stars on, off course
UNLV golfer Harry Hall finished tied for 10th at the prestigious South Beach International Amateur, played at Miami Beach and Normandy Shores golf courses in Florida. Fellow Rebel and Palo Verde graduate Jack Trent finished tied for 33rd.
The golf notebook appears each Thursday. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at email@example.com or @LVGolfInsider.