Will Golf Survive?

Kim Anders
Director of Instruction
John Jacobs Golf Schools and Academies Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, AZ

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We are all aware of how difficult the economy has been the last five plus years, and thank goodness things seem to be improving in many areas.  So what is happening with the golf industry? Well, it is not a very pretty picture from what I’ve been reading.  

It seems in the past few years more than 2,000 golf courses have shut down. I feel terrible for the developers who were expecting continued growth and invested millions in golf developments only to be forced to walk away from their projects. Tragic! I feel bad for all of the employees who were without work following these closures. And, I feel bad for all my fellow golf professionals who are now looking for work.

Look back about 25 or 30 years and you will see a very similar picture. Golf courses were opening at the rate of something like one new facility per day, and then the bottom fell out of the economy. It was said golf would never ever return to what it had been, but it did.  

Golf has boomed since then and developments around fine new golf courses have flourished. It was like the 70’s all over again – everyone was playing golf.  

The PGA of America was scrambling for more young professionals in an effort to keep up with the demand. I had two assistants work for me for barely 3 years and then left to take head professional positions. They weren’t yet fully qualified but the market needed them.

OK, back to today’s situation. Two thousand golf facilities closed. If each one ONLY employed a head professional and one assistant that would be 4,000 golf professionals out of work. I’m sure the actual total is probably closer to 6,000, if not more.

Then, about a year ago, a major national sporting goods chain that employed many PGA Professionals decided not to continue this practice and eliminated more than 780 PGA Members from their payroll.

There are about 22,000 members and apprentices in the PGA of America.  Somewhere between 21% and 30+% of them have lost their jobs. This breaks my heart.  

These seasoned men and women are more than good players. They are businessmen and women, coaches, mentors, psychologists, teachers, and managers. They are some of the finest public relations people you will find, corporate spokespeople, merchandisers, computer specialists, accountants, tournament organizers, community volunteers, fundraisers, event planners, and much much more. Some even do a little writing.

Now that the economy is improving, and some of you are thinking about growing your business, please consider hiring someone from the PGA.  They come with so many skills that can’t be taught. And, they have so many learned skills that come with the privilege of being able to put the letters PGA behind their signature.  

As for the future of golf, I have no doubt the game will survive. In the next 30 years or so, the number of courses will probably once again become overbuilt, the economy will tank again, and the experts will say it will never be the same. Will it be the same again, I don’t know. But, golf is too tough not to survive.  

Will those of us in the PGA who have become statistics survive? You bet, golf has made us tough, too. Unfortunately, many of us will be in a different line of work.  

In the past, I have finished many of my articles with, “If you need help with your problem go see your PGA Professional”. Never more true than now!

Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at jkanders4@gmail.com.