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As for why people are quitting, golf is just too darn expensive, and we're all looking for bargains. If they are not offered, forget it. You can probably blame discount on line tee time services (i.e., teetimes24/7.com and the like.) My buddies and I have gone to Arizona every year for the past five or six, but took a pass this year. When Troon North got up to $275, forget it! Whne the prices get more reasonable, the golfers will be back, trust me.

Michael Porrazzo, via email

If you want to get & keep new golfers, there have to be courses they can enjoy. That's executive courses at first. But the transition to 18 hole courses is rough. New golfers don't remember everything, instantly. So they do not play fast. If the rangers hassle them to play faster, they give up. If the rangers don't experienced golfers go somewhere else. For golf with a capital G, it's more complicated than "slow play is bad."

Ed Caruthers, via email

Another note worthy item is the price of the new equipment is out of line. The average golfer who wants to try a brand name driver at a price of $400 to $500 is being turned off at the high price levels. At this price level they could quit the game and make another house payment.

RJ Drylie, via email

Why are they Leaving? I have been playing golf for 16 years and have no intentions of leaving the game. I will however play lower price courses 9 times out of 10. I do play at least once a week when there is less than an inch of snow on the ground. I believe that the cost of greens fees is the biggest hindrance to the progression and growth of the game. I would much rather play an OK course for $20-30 for a round than to shell out $50 and up to play at some fancy place where the marshals give you a hard time. Plus it's just more enjoyable to not break the bank for a round of golf. I will on occasion splurge and go to the nicer courses because sometimes it's nice to go play where the grass may be a little greener but I don't truly believe its worth that much extra "green".

Benjamin Kelly, via email

"In my day..." when I started playing golf (and this was on a Military base) the golf pro took me out to the range and asked me to hit a few balls with an iron, after squibbing most of them I hit a couple descent ones. he looked at me and said I run lessons on Thursdays your welcome to join in. after you complete the lessons you can start playing. I took the lessons and from that I learned to appreciate the game and knew when I was having difficulty with my game and sought lessons to improve. maybe clubs can offer lessons at reduced prices and then offer incentive programs to encourage members to stay and new members to join. it's not all the fault of the players, most clubs are so expensive to build that they feel the need to recoup their outlay by charging exorbitant fees to play, rather than taking a long term path to recoup the costs.

Russ Miller, via email

I was wondering why we think that the fact that so many people are quitting golf is so bad. I am 51 years old and have been playing golf for over 40 years and I vividly remember playing golf with my dad, walking and carrying our clubs and playing 18 holes in 2 and a half hours without hurrying. Now you're lucky to be able to play 9 holes in 2 and a half hours. I realize there was only 2 of us and the courses weren't as crowded as they are now but if today's golfers realized there is a term called "ready golf" and if when it was their turn to hit the ball they knew what club they wanted to hit and they were actually standing next to their ball rather than sitting on their fanny in a golf cart 40 yards away waiting for their playing partner to hit their ball from the other side of the fairway maybe the game would be a little bit more enjoyable and it wouldn't take them all day to play a round of golf.

I say let 'em quit and leave the game to the ones that get true enjoyment out of the game by simply enjoying being outside and getting a little exercise at the same time. I realize the game is a business but I can guarantee that I would be out there a lot more, I my wife wouldn't mind it, if you could go out and play 18 holes in 3 or 3 and a half hours instead of 5 and a half or 6. Thanks for letting me vent.

Scott Burleson, via email

The report on why newer players leave the game early on does have a lot to do with cost. Although I am not new to the game per se, I have played off and on over the past 30 years and only recently have stayed with the game. I, as well as many others who do not have 8 hours a day to devote to the game, struggle with it. Yes, it does become frustrating at times when you think you are improving, only to find out your really are not. Golf is an expensive sport. Greens fees to the better courses are at times out of reach for the average golfer. Avid golfers always dream of playing Pebble Beach, but with a $395.00 greens fee, you know that probably will not happen.

Affordability is paramount when looking at playing golf courses. The bottom line is always, is it worth it. If are struggling with your game and shoot in the high 90's or low 100's, and are not having a good time on the course, you do think about hanging up the clubs and moving on to something less costly and maybe more enjoyable.

Bernd Stittleburg, via email

Reference to your article on the drop in numbers of playing golfers, the figures do not surprise me in the least. The Reason is strictly a matter of MONEY. When the golf world was so excited with the arrival of Tiger Woods on the scene, there was no end to the new courses put on the drawing board. They looked at the potential of some 3-5 million golfer entering the ranks of interested new golfers....with most of those coming from the lower income.

This was all well in good and construction started immediately.

The problem! They built courses in great numbers for the upper income levelpeople. The "new golfer" started playing or at least learning the game only tofind that they could not play on a course but had to confine themselves to thepublic driving range.

It all reminded me of the golf frenzy evident in Japan in the 1960s & 70s. 75-80% of the new golfers there were often seen on the trains going to atriple decker range. They were dressed the part and carried the popular brandclubs but that was it. The only way they could get a game on a proper coursewas to go on vacation to such places as Hawaii, Guam, Singapore, or the like.The ones coming to the US Mainland to play confined their golf at Pebble Beach,Las Vegas, or Florida.

So again, the decrease is not from the ranks of the affluent but from themillions that were new entries to golf throughout the late 80s and 90s. A very interesting report and certainly something for the golf course ownersassociation to review.

Michael C. Roseto, Luxury Golf Link

One major frustration for beginning golfers would be tolimit the re-hits from the tee, etc on out of bounds shots. They should beplayed as any other lateral hazard. It is terribly frustrating for a heavyslicer to hid two or more out of bounds and still be on the tee. Also, it addsto slow play as beginner must trek back to tee after each shot if it is notcertain ball is out of bounds.

W. O. Steward, Greenbriar Management Corporation

Your article regarding golfers leaving the game was interesting. Was the survey group comprised of men and women? We're hearing that the time commitment per round is the number one problem - 4-4 1/2 hours is acceptable; more than that is not. Greens fees are definitely out of line for the casual golfer. It would be interesting to see what they feel is reasonable to pay compared to what they have paid at courses they were able to play in the following categories: Public, Semi-Private; Resort.

The ladies side of the business is a contrast to the men's side, as evidenced by the double digit membership increases experienced by the Executive Women's Golf Association, and the amount of team business and internet business happening in the apparel side of the industry. Ladies business isn't pursued nearly enough.

Patrice Brayer, Marcia Golf

For years I have advocated to my friends that golf neededto move to a second standard 12-hole format (in addition to an 18-holeformat)to reduce the time to play the game. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and most courses require a 45 minute drive to get to the course and then with warm-ups, a 4.5 hour round and refreshments afterwards, you end up with a 7 to 8 hour experience. Most people don't have 8 hours on weekends to play. I would play more if I could get in and out in half a day.

The 12-hole concept provides that. Also, many courses just don't provide the customer service you need to plan on playing. To get a decent tee time requires you to plan 7 to 14 days in advance to call. And if you want to take a golf trip you can't get the tee time until well after all the other hotel and flight arrangements are made. Golf courses can do better.

Ben Campbell, via email

Golf fess are absurdly high and going higher. How can a casual golfer, pay 60 to 100 dollars and expect to enjoy shooting a 98? How often can a family afford this kind of luxury? Equipment, lessons, fees are way to much of a financial burden for the average person to afford

Tim Gillilan, via email

I'm a novice golfer and agree that green fees are too much for the average working stiff. I hate paying 50 - 80 dollars to play on good quality course. I also believe we are being robbed with the price of new clubs.300- 400 for a driver that will be sold in 6 months for less than half the price.

Lannie Robinson, via email

You mention two reasons for the attrition in golfernumbers in the industry, but there is a third. Newcomers can be intimidated, andhow they are greeted in the pro shop, and treated on the course by betterplayers, especially if the novice is in a situation where he's vilified when play's slow, and he or she is having trouble.

If we care about the game, and forthat matter, about our fellow man, we'll lend a hand. That begins at the proshop counter and extends onto the practice area and onto the course. There'sonly so much to do regarding the cost of golf--maintenance takes money--but weall can do a better job to spread around our experience, and professionalsshould continue to give back to the game, something they have always been proudof.

Tom McAuliffe, Sugar Mountain Golf Club

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