Economic barometer: golf players contracting

Another sign of our aging demographics and economically trying times:  golf demand is contracting.  As the credit bubble built, new golf courses were popping up like chicken pox.  But since 2008, fewer people are finding the means to partake in a game expensive both in time and money.  See:  Golf market struck in bunker as thousands leave sport:

“It’s something that’s associated with boom times…Most of society’s not moving up, and golf is associated with moving up.”

Some interesting stats:

  • According to the National Golf Foundation, 400,000 players left the sport last year,  (while some 260,000 women took up golf, some 650,000 men quit.)
  • Chronically underemployed and over-indebted young people are opting out with an estimated 200,000 players under 35 abandoning the game last year. While Tiger inspired young people to the game up to 2009, his infidelity scandal turned some off.
  • Only 14 new courses were built in the U.S. last year, while almost 160 shut down, marking the 8th straight year that more courses closed than opened.
  • Those still playing are opting for nine holes rather than 18. In total, U.S. golfers played 462 million rounds last year, according to Golf Datatech–the fewest since 1995.
  • Slow golf sales over the past 15 months have created a glut of inventory forcing retail outlets to slash prices on clothing and equipment.
  • Equipment heavy-weights like Callaway (hasn’t reported an annual profit since 2008), TaylorMade and Adidas are all warning that results could come in at the low end of previous guidance for 2014 with the sector noting a 34% sales drop in Q1.
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