Can Courses Handle the Golfer Influx Long-term?

McLovin

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Based on what? Curious minds want to know.
the trend of shorter attention spans and more distractions vying for attention. this isn't a knock against any specific generation; it's a trend that has existed for a long time. and also the fact that literally no one likes 5 hour rounds, lol. but those of us who are enthusiasts have been conditioned to think this is ok. a newer player may very well be turned off by the sheer length of time a round can take. offer them scaleability and they may be more inclined to play again, and again, and again, until they become an enthusiast too.
 

JB

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the trend of shorter attention spans and more distractions vying for attention. this isn't a knock against any specific generation; it's a trend that has existed for a long time. and also the fact that literally no one likes 5 hour rounds, lol. but those of us who are enthusiasts have been conditioned to think this is ok. a newer player may very well be turned off by the sheer length of time a round can take. offer them scaleability and they may be more inclined to play again, and again, and again, until they become an enthusiast too.
Let’s not forget that before COVID, golf was down and every survey out there that existed listed time as one of the top reasons.
 

Joshnoble01

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Honestly, attention span has nothing to do with 5 hour rounds. I think you have to get into 3:15 rounds before you can get into the attention span part of it. No one likes 5 hour rounds. Not even guys who want to spend all day at the course like 5 hours rounds. Slow players that shoot 130 don't like 5 hour rounds even if they aren't waiting and are causing the 5 hours round. That's 17 minutes a hole.
 

leftshot

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the trend of shorter attention spans and more distractions vying for attention. this isn't a knock against any specific generation; it's a trend that has existed for a long time. and also the fact that literally no one likes 5 hour rounds, lol. but those of us who are enthusiasts have been conditioned to think this is ok. a newer player may very well be turned off by the sheer length of time a round can take. offer them scaleability and they may be more inclined to play again, and again, and again, until they become an enthusiast too.
Yeah, that thing about attention spans is largely an urban myth not backed by science or studies. Consider how much time the younger generation spends on video games or social media. Huge blocks of time! Maslow's hierarchy of needs aside, people want to spend time doing things they enjoy. That desire hasn't changed. As another pointed out, golf has always struggled with the fact that an 18 hole round requires a commitment of 4+ hours of someone's time. But I haven't seen any empirical study that demonstrates that it is a bigger issue than it was in the past.
 

ddstanford

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If the courses try to profit by jamming in more folks/hour, we're all in Dutch. I say keep it every 8-12 minutes and raise the fees if you need income, but don't increase numbers of golfers beyond what the course will handle.
 

JB

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Yeah, that thing about attention spans is largely an urban myth not backed by science or studies. Consider how much time the younger generation spends on video games or social media. Huge blocks of time! Maslow's hierarchy of needs aside, people want to spend time doing things they enjoy. That desire hasn't changed. As another pointed out, golf has always struggled with the fact that an 18 hole round requires a commitment of 4+ hours of someone's time. But I haven't seen any empirical study that demonstrates that it is a bigger issue than it was in the past.
Have you looked? Asking genuinely.
Because as mentioned pre COVID, golf was not in the best of shape. Golf Chanel had entire shows talking about how slow play and cost were the largest factors of people saying they were leaving the game.

USGA ran entire campaigns about pace because their studies said the same thing.
 

McLovin

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Yeah, that thing about attention spans is largely an urban myth not backed by science or studies. Consider how much time the younger generation spends on video games or social media. Huge blocks of time! Maslow's hierarchy of needs aside, people want to spend time doing things they enjoy. That desire hasn't changed. As another pointed out, golf has always struggled with the fact that an 18 hole round requires a commitment of 4+ hours of someone's time. But I haven't seen any empirical study that demonstrates that it is a bigger issue than it was in the past.
i’m not ready to accept this as an urban myth. social media is designed to give you rapid fire blasts of new and fresh content. video games have ever changing stimuli. golf - particularly an inordinately long round - is very dissimilar.

and no, golf has not always had the problem of 4+ hour rounds. that is not true at all.
 

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i’m not ready to accept this as an urban myth. social media is designed to give you rapid fire blasts of new and fresh content. video games have ever changing stimuli. golf - particularly an inordinately long round - is very dissimilar.

and no, golf has not always had the problem of 4+ hour rounds. that is not true at all.
I could make the argument that golf also has ever changing stimuli like a video game, maybe more. With a video game, you’re still holding the same controller the entire time, sitting stationary, and in golf you’re still holding a club the entire time, but already up and moving in and out of the cart or practice swinging. In video games the scenery changes, the missions change, the music changes, etc, and in golf the scenery changes, the shots change, the music changes, etc. I don’t see a difference in the two other than golf has slow periods if waiting between shots, that video games don’t have unless you’re waiting for something to load. This ain’t meant to defend one activity vs the other, rather just serve as an observation that they might be more similar than previously acknowledged.
 

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I'll say No to the OP... I'm in rural somewhat odd rural area... we only shut down for two days. We had singles in carts only, then partitions, then household members in carts only, and 15 minute tee times, then 12, and finally settled at 10 minutes for the last 4 months of the season... So everything was busy all year and rounds were a little slower but it seemed like a variety of new players back in the game or taking it up for the first time. Really dont think, at 10 minute tee times, it made a huge difference overall...
 

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A bit of a spin off from another thread, I think it's a really interesting discussion to have.

Anyone trying to get a tee time in 2020 probably experienced either limited options, or slow play due to stacked golf courses. While it's incredibly positive for the industry to have this massive boost in activity and purchasing, do you think our current course infrastructure can actually handle this kind of play for a more long term basis?
Must be a regional thing. Practically every course around me had available tee times all day long except for the most prime times. Never a problem getting on and I was wondering if some of these courses were going to be in trouble.


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mancest

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interesting you bring this up, but I don't know if our course can without upping rates they charge and the amount of money they put into the course. Getting heavy play now during wet/cold times is taking a heavy toll and with the rounds played increasing as the days get longer I am curious if it will rebound when the weather improves.
 

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Have you looked? Asking genuinely.
Because as mentioned pre COVID, golf was not in the best of shape. Golf Chanel had entire shows talking about how slow play and cost were the largest factors of people saying they were leaving the game.

USGA ran entire campaigns about pace because their studies said the same thing.
JB, yes I have. That doesn't mean there couldn't be something out there I haven't seen. But I have looked and note that in all the posts responding to the above no one offered any scientific evidence or empirical study showing that attention spans have decreased--much less that it is driving changes in participation or rounds played in golf.

Slow play is irritating for a number of reasons wholly unrelated to our attention span changing.
 

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JB, yes I have. That doesn't mean there couldn't be something out there I haven't seen. But I have looked and note that in all the posts responding to the above no one offered any scientific evidence or empirical study showing that attention spans have decreased--much less that it is driving changes in participation or rounds played in golf.

Slow play is irritating for a number of reasons wholly unrelated to our attention span changing.
I agree that attention span has nothing to do with slow play...

Aside from new golfers struggling to keep pace (which is understandable and forgivable) slow play is due to 2 factors.
1. People watch Tour golf and see their favorite guys taking crazy amounts of time between shots, think it is the norm, and that the $2 Nassau match they’re in warrants the same pace of play.
2. People simply being inconsiderate.

Take your pick - my vote, in most instances, is #2
 

McLovin

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I could make the argument that golf also has ever changing stimuli like a video game, maybe more. With a video game, you’re still holding the same controller the entire time, sitting stationary, and in golf you’re still holding a club the entire time, but already up and moving in and out of the cart or practice swinging. In video games the scenery changes, the missions change, the music changes, etc, and in golf the scenery changes, the shots change, the music changes, etc. I don’t see a difference in the two other than golf has slow periods if waiting between shots, that video games don’t have unless you’re waiting for something to load. This ain’t meant to defend one activity vs the other, rather just serve as an observation that they might be more similar than previously acknowledged.
but we’re talking about a 5hr round here. the premise of the 6-hole offering is to keep pace down. in a 5hr round, there is so much waiting and downtime doing nothing.
 
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I may be wrong but I don’t think that this massive boost in play will continue. I think that golf’s popularity in 2020 was directly influenced by it being an accessible activity during the pandemic. That popularity will decline somewhat as society progresses with the pandemic. Golf is expensive and people may go back to less expensive recreational and sporting activities.
I think your right. Most will continue for some time. While it may fade off a bit over time, but i think the sport/(hobby for many) will keep a stronghold and most will stick to it.

Kind of like the HD craze after their 90th anniversary. Right now due to Covid the RV craze is experiencing the same surge. One thing that may change is when kids activities ramp up again and moms and dads will have their schedules full again.
 

JB

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Right now due to Covid the RV craze is experiencing the same surge.
I talked to a friend of mine that runs one of the largest RV dealers in the country and we have been talking about similar. After having owned two different RVs (THP Tour Vans) over the last decade, we aren't getting a new one anytime soon, but glad to see that business thriving. It needs some new leadership at the manufacture level, and maybe this influx helps with that.
 

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I think we will retain a small portion of the newfound golf population in 2020 but at least in my area we were loosing courses before COVID. In my area, we saw 5 hour rounds and difficulty getting tee times during the early Tiger years. By 2010 we saw courses closing. In 2018, I could pretty much call up on a Friday and get a tee time before 10am on Saturday. We simply concluded the oldest generation no longer could play and the few younger golfers don't like to play before 10am.

what I loved about Covid golf in my areas was the 15min spacing between tee times and those that ride having an individual cart. Overall it sped up golf most days in my area.

Having a 20 year old son, he does not play when I have an opening because he does not want to get up before noon. He does not go out with his friends because golf is too expensive for his social network. So I believe the dwindling interest in younger people is both time and cost.
 

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A better (or equally important) question is, will the increase in play continue on a long term basis? Once all the 'Rona stuff is over, will there still be as many people playing, or will the crowds diminish as people go back to work and have access to their other hobbies/diversions again?
I think some of the covid golfers will stick around but most will move on. We say it so many times that it loses meaning, but golf is hard. Most aren’t hardwired to pursue a passion built on frustration.😉

Regardless, I know the local courses here loved the extra business last year, but from my vantage I don’t think that level of usage is sustainable. Some modest gains and more widespread visibility and interest in golf can be a pretty good outcome.
 

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I'm going with the crowd, who says other recreational things will become available in future months.

In our area, with in an hour's drive, we have well over 100 golf courses available.

What ever happens, in our area, golf courses will easily be able to handle available golfers.

I was talking with a realtor friend who's in the home selling business. He says right now, in our area, it's a sellers market due to all the free money that has been, still being disbursed. (I tend to believe him because my kids have flipped 4 homes in 3 months) What concerns him is that once people come off the free money assistance, a lot of foreclosures might start popping up. (he does not anticipate a lot of people easily going back to work right away) If that happens, we could enter some sort of economic recession. Golf course revenue could become collateral damage if money tightens up.
 

IndySC

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but we’re talking about a 5hr round here. the premise of the 6-hole offering is to keep pace down. in a 5hr round, there is so much waiting and downtime doing nothing.
Fair point and I completely agree on that premise. My comparison falls apart when waiting is involved.
 

McLovin

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Fair point and I completely agree on that premise. My comparison falls apart when waiting is involved.
for an adequately paced round i 100% agree with you. my mind is fully engaged and there's never a dull moment. those rounds are the best!
 

IndySC

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for an adequately paced round i 100% agree with you. my mind is fully engaged and there's never a dull moment. those rounds are the best!
Those rounds are the unicorns that keep me coming back lol.
 

RayG

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Around here, in season, sheets are full, no matter what. You can’t squeeze any more people out just because there are more that want to play. You might find some greedy owners who might shorten intervals, but they quickly learn that people won’t put up with 6 hour rounds because of the usual dawdlers that slow things down. Add more of them and it just makes things worse. I suspect many courses didn’t really lose money on the “golf” part, they lost money on the bars, restaurants and catering business. Which could be a rather large chunk of income overall.
 

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Once Rona is over this increase fizzles. One part of the equation is time people have but a bigger part is money. Once people can start traveling again it will eat into discretionary spending.


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