It’s de rigeuer for American journalists — golf and otherwise — to tell us that golf is dying.
By “dying,” they mean one of the following:
- Tiger Woods was supposed to be the role model to end all role models and instead wound up being the punchline to end all punchlines.
- Tiger Woods — his character is none of your business, we are lectured; all that matters is his golf — was supposed to win 30 majors and make Jack Nicklaus a footnote. Instead, six years ago he stalled well behind Jack’s mark.
- The financial crisis of the late 00’s made people aware that you really don’t need to buy a new $500 driver every spring, so equipment manufacturers are not making as much money.
- People decided spending $100 to stand in the fairway watching a foursome of 10-handicappers plumb bob puts on PGA-slick greens was a wise use of neither time nor money, so golf course operators are not making as much money.
- Only America matters.
It doesn’t matter that golf all across the globe is becoming more and more popular. No, close your eyes to that. The ridiculous predictions made by ridiculous people regarding what Tiger Woods “would mean to golf” were, apparently, taken seriously by some.
The PGA Tour would be as big as the NFL. “I am Tiger Woods” would cause inner city toughs to give up trash talking on basketball courts to politely replace divots, repair ball marks, and say, “Nice shot,” to opponents who are giving you a beatdown. And spend $100 to do so. Tiger Woods was going to be transformative, not just for golf, but for all of society.
That so many people in the U.S. who should have known better bought into that narrative tells you something about the reasoning ability of most Americans.
So golf isn’t dying. What is dying is a silly narrative created by silly people all in the interest of making serious money.
Let’s expand our horizon just a wee bit. Golf in Asia is booming, with many new and rising stars on both the PGA and LPGA. Ireland, thanks to players such as Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, is experiencing a golf renaissance.
Then there’s France. Victor Dubuisson, 24 years old, gained international fame last year when he took part in the stunning playoff with Jason Day at the WGC Match Play. Another 24-year-old Frenchman, Alexander Levy, has rocketed up the OWGR rankings over the course of the past year and is safely qualified for all the WGC events this year.
And now there is 22-year-old Gary Stal, another Frenchman, who today happened to win the Abu Dhabi Championship over a field which included five of the world’s top twelve players, #1 and #2 among them.
Certainly no one in France is wringing their hands about the “death of golf” today. Viva la France! Viva la golf!