One of the oddities of the Tiger Woods Era has nothing to do with fire hydrants, swing changes, knee surgeries or a sudden surge in missed putts. While more people are watching golf than ever before, fewer are playing it, at least in the United States. More specifically, that plateau was reached in 2000, four years into the Woods decade of dominance.
With the U.S., if not the world, beginning to show signs of emerging from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is time for all the stakeholders in golf to place growing the game on a front burner. We need to turn up the heat and get more people playing the game and get those already playing it to play more often.
"From the mid 1980s to the turn of the century, the number of golfers grew by about 50 percent -- from 20 million to 30 million golfers," the National Golf Foundation said in a report entitled Golf Participation in America, 2010-2020. "But since the year 2000," the report continued, "the number of golfers plateaued and has been slowly declining, raising concerns about the future."