Cleveland/Srixon’s CEO Greg Hopkins has spoken about the downturn on sales, especially in the mid-priced equipment range. That refers to the equipment primarily used by a key demographic for the sport’s future, the golfer who’s raised his interest level toward becoming a frequent player.
Greg Hopkins thinks the game’s playing popularity suffers because of what he sees as misplaced fears that further advancements in equipment will allow professional players to unfairly rewrite the record books. Greg argues that such design limits on equipment advances keep the already challenging sport too difficult for many new players to the game.
Greg speculates golfers are simply holding on to equipment longer to stretch their golfing budgets;
“The game is at a crossroads. This isn’t a cheap hobby, both the cost of equipment plus the daily greens fee a player may incur. That was a bad formula for the prolonged economic downturn. And when families are struggling to meet bills, It’s hard for a player to tell the spouse they need to buy a brand-new $300 driver. We need to get a consensus of what’s the best way to grow the number of golfers.”
A rather strange phenomenon around all the recent advances in technology is that the average handicap of the amateur player has not gone down. Most players still struggle to break a hundred, even when using all the latest equipment. Does this mean the new equipment is not that helpful to beginners, or is it that golf courses have just lengthened their lay-out, or put in extra hazards, like more bunkers to combat the extra distance the player can get from this new equipment. According to the United States Golf Association in Far Hills. The average handicap for U.S. men, 14.7 in 2007, was 14.5 last year. Women have improved more (27.6 in 2007 to 26.8 in 2011)
Another decision looming on the horizon from The R&A and The USGA is the banning of the long putters. Carl Pettersson said yesterday, after his win at RBC Heritage, about his broomstick putter;
“I will be back to the short one next year when they ban it.”
Carl has been using his broomstick for 14 years, I can not see that banning it now is in the best interests of the game.