Mark NessmithThis Week at TravelGolf.com: April 18, 2006

Golf needs to step up and save the
nation's old people from themselves

The New York Times recently reported on the exercise habits of the nation's baby boomers, an age group that's traditionally the bread and butter of the golf industry.

Much of the news was heartening (older folks are exercising in huge numbers). Some of it was troubling (they're getting themselves hurt in record numbers).

"A legion of running, swimming and biking boomers are flouting the conventional limits of the middle-aged body's abilities," reporter Bill Pennington wrote.

Super, right? Well, the sentence continues: "... filling the nation's operating rooms and orthopedists' offices in the process."

"They need knee and hip replacements, surgery for cartilage and ligament damage, and treatment for tendinitis, arthritis, bursitis and stress fractures," Pennington wrote.

One 54-year-old Pennsylvania woman quoted in the story goes to a gym six days a week, plays tennis, does aerobics and skis. She's had anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, cortisone injections for sore joints and rotator-cuff surgery. Recently she tore a hamstring while kick boxing.

Now I'm not a baby boomer (though I did once roundhouse some 54-year-old woman in the hamstring during a close kickboxing match), and I'm not a golf course owner. But if I were either one, I'd be pushing like crazy to get these fitness-crazed boomers out of the stale air of the gym where they're getting hurt, and on to the golf course. They've got the money, time and inclination, so why aren't they flocking to golf?

One reason is that golf, with it's dependency on carts, has ceased to offer much in the way of physical benefits (at least in the eyes of many would-be golfers). Instead of a healthful walk in the sun admiring the surroundings, it's become a hurried ride in an electric buggy staring at the GPS monitor while barreling toward the next shot, desperate to avoid the wrath of the pace-of-play police scurrying around in their carts.

Now, though, just there for the taking, is a huge market segment of baby boomers looking to stay active and maybe avoid getting their teeth kicked out in the process. How could you not sell golf to this first generation of geezers to talk about anterior cruciate ligaments and rotator cuffs the way their parents talked about gout and rheumatism?

Creative golf course owners who are looking to grow their business should take note. Boomers can bring still more to the golf industry. And golf can do a lot for the boomers.

As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.



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Also: Jacksonville's Bent Creek gives munis a good name




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Adrian Young keeps busy by playing the drums for one of the world's most successful bands -- No Doubt. Of course, if he had his druthers, this drummer would much rather be golfing. Here, West Coast Bureau Chief Chris Baldwin talks to this California musician and finds out he loves golf, but wouldn't advise anyone else to play: "It's an evil game. If you want something easy, go jump out of a plane or something."

Also: A harrowing look at Alice Cooper's sordid addiction

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