In the October 2011 issue of Golf Digest, John Barton wrote an article titled, "The Price is Right: Affordable Golf is Not Only Plentiful, it's Preferable". Barton shares the following statistics concerning the game of golf in the United States:
- The average golfer spends $1,620 a year on the game (including $406 on equipment, $338 on green fees and $64 on lessons)
- Only 3.6% of individuals with incomes below $30,000 are golfers
- 14.8% of individuals with incomes above $125,000 are golfers
- As of 2010, there were15,890 golf courses in the U.S. with a median green fee of $37 (nearly a $3 drop from the previous year)
The point that the author is trying to make is that golf, now more than ever, is becoming more affordable for those who have only dreamed of leaving the driving range and stepping foot onto a course to actually play. Golf successfully originated in Scotland in the 1600's and was considered a game reserved only for rich males. Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden - as the G.O.L.F. acronym denotes - has long been the motto maintained by players of the game even up until recent decades.
Times have now changed and golf courses are doing all they can to attract players to their courses. Greg Nathan, Senior Vice President of the National Golf Foundation, is quoted in Barton's article saying: "Because of the supply-and-demand imbalance, there has been a meaningful price compression. All the course owners and operators are competing very hard. Really nice courses are financially within reach, perhaps more than ever before. Playing golf has become more affordable." Barton continues to explain that there are all kinds of deals, discounts, two-for-ones and special rates. If you're playing as a family, 899 facilities across the U.S. offer free green fees to children with an accompanying paying adult, and 2,278 facilities have special rates for juniors. Many courses are coming up with innovative ideas to make the game even cheaper and attract more players to the game, he explains.
The new affordability of golf is undoubtedly a result of lower national incomes and, thus, less dispensable income to spend on recreation and not necessities. So, maybe now is the best time to take up the game? Whether it is or not, it is still interesting to consider the economic changes in the golf industry and the efforts being made by course owners and operators everywhere to make the game more affordable to the public and not just the wealthy.