Why is the Game of Golf So Popular? – What’s so Good About it

The game of golf has seen a significant surge in popularity over the last twenty years or so (with a slight decline in the last five years). This surge in popularity is due in large part to the following factors:

The popularity of the modern professional golfer

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Not too long ago, the professional golfer, though highly skilled, was not held in as high regard as other professional athletes like pro football, basketball, baseball, or soccer players. Golf was seen as somewhat an exclusive sport dominated by the privileged or “country club” set. There were few professional golfers that used modern sports technology and fitness programs to hone their game. In addition, golfing telecasts were viewed as “boring” and were certainly not pervasive, especially on a worldwide scale.

Then came Tiger Woods who shattered the old view of the professional golfer. Latest “transgressions” aside, Tiger’s often documented hard-core training regimen, athleticism, and work ethic ushered in a new era of a pro golfer as an athlete pushing fellow pro golfers to raise their fitness levels and golf routines.

Professional athletes from other sports such as Jerry Rice, Emmett Smith, and countless others struggled with the game, and while it became evident that not “anyone” could play the game, respect for golf as a true athletic competition grew.

Tiger’s ascension greatly influenced the accessibility of the game including worldwide golf telecasts, 24-hour golf coverage, and hundreds of websites and media outlets dedicated to the sport. In turn, this phenomenon influenced a huge growth in the sport on a worldwide scale in countries such as China, Japan, and Korea (also influenced by the success of a growing number of Asian American golfers such as Anthony Kim).

The popularity of golf with Younger and Older Golfers

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Over the last decade, the popularity of golf has soared in two distinctive age demographics – ages 17 and younger (largely influenced by the Tiger Woods phenomenon) and the influx of retirees that, with newfound time on their hands, are taking up the game with their significant others and often combining their passion with a host of golf destination trips and vacations.

The advances in modern golf technology

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Though the average golf handicap for amateur golfers has remained relatively steady for decades, modern golf technology has indeed made the game easier to play (or at least it is perceived to have done so). Advances in golf club and golf ball materials, sizes, shapes, and dynamics allow amateur golfers to hit a golf ball farther and straighter than ever before, encouraging beginner golfers to “catch the fever” at a much faster pace.

Accessibility of the game

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Though in a state of natural decline after decades of unprecedented growth, the popularity of the game spiked as thousands of public golf courses were built to keep up with the demand. No longer did a golfer have to join an exclusive golf club or pay high greens fees to play a round…he or she could do so for as little as $10 per round (especially in today’s economic climate).