It is no secret that the golf industry is in decline, perhaps part of a natural boom and bust cycle, but I would posit that a major facet of it is in the fact that the modern golf swing is chasing and keeping people away from the game.
Golf will always be played, so the game itself is not in peril. There will always be enough people with the means, opportunity and of course desire to play.
In fact, I would imagine that the elites in the past-time (social elites, not playing elites, mind you) do not mind that golf is once again becoming too expensive and time-consuming for the average man.
However, I don’t see the industry regaining any semblance of growth while the modern swing philosophy remains.
If you don’t know the genesis of the modern swing, neither do I – however, we can all admit that swinging in the classic golf swing manner the way the greats of old did, is much easier and simpler to learn and perform.
In fact, there has always been a push in the golf instruction industry to complicate things, therefore squeezing more dollars out of public for lessons.
The best example?
The future president of the PGA of America telling legendary Scottish golf instructor Ernest Jones back in the ’50s that his swing method was too simple:
According to PGA of America senior writer Bob Denney, the PGA has invited teaching pros to address its annual meeting only twice.
The first was Ernest Jones…But Jones’ presentation to the PGA in November 1950 alarmed its members because his method was simpler and less time-consuming than body-focused instruction.
At a time when the average pro was giving 600 lessons a year, Jones was averaging 3,000, and Smith (who served as the PGA president from 1952 to 1954) told Jones that his method was “too simple. We wouldn’t sell enough lessons.”
Christensen, John (2013-11-24). Perfect Swing, Imperfect Lies: The Legacy of Golf’s Longest Hitter (Kindle Locations 971-975). . Kindle Edition.
So, you can’t get much clearer than that – the PGA of America, so-called shepherds of the game, are golf professionals by their own admission, whose primary purpose is not teaching or growing the game, but in making money from it.
Their own words, not mine.
It’s a business, and it’s failing badly, by any measure, except in the money made by the professional players and the industry.
But for the public – less people taking up the game, people aren’t able to play into their later years as they once did, and of course, the six-hour rounds keep a lot of people away, including myself unless I have a whole day to waste playing a round of golf.
This is today’s guru… God help us all…
How bad is it?
Well… how about showing people a proper back swing, more or less, mechanically and postionally speaking, and telling them it’s wrong, and showing them how to do it completely counter to athletic principles:
That first pose, incidentally, is how all of the greats would have looked at the top, including the guy whose back he helped break with the second type of position at the top, before Foley got his hands on him:
Hey Tiger – Foley says that’s wrong…
So, we know the deal if we pay attention – it’s about how much they can squeeze out of you, not how well they can teach you to swing.
People are leaving the game in droves (not many 60-year olds can swing in the modern style, and if they do, not for long), and more droves not taking it up.
I’ll still play golf however (when I have the inclination to play 5-6 hr rounds following slow-pokes), without any assistance from the PGA of America, and I imagine many others who swing along the classic golf swing way will enjoy their golf as well, without assistance from the “pros.”
Most people however, will only ever experience golf instruction through that cabal, and we all know that if you give a millennial a couple of modern swing sessions, they are more likely to go search out something far more enjoyable to learn that to keep trying to twist their bodies into pretzels just for the purpose of chasing a little ball around a pasture for 4 to 5 hours.
Those of us who can swing with mechanical correctness however, will continue to enjoy hitting balls and playing the game.
Unfortunately (for the biz, that is), that bodes well for the game, but not for the business.
And at this point, it’s a self-inflicted injury for the pros in the industry, and I don’t really pity them.
Happy Sunday, everyone.
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