Whether we like to admit it or not, golf is in a slow decline. It is worrying indeed. Simply put, the amount of people playing the game and how regularly they play, is becoming more limited. Perhaps it is understandable. It has become a case of all work and little play.
That's not to say that the avid golfers out there don't want to play. Some will make the most of good weather and play when the opportunity arises.
With the rise of the Nomadic golfer and the popularity of cheaper online green fees, most clubs now face a struggle to attract golfers to their course.
This is not an excuse but the truth. We would all love nothing more than to be on the course but work and family comes first.
The proof comes with a recent survey conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. What they have found is of no real surprise to those in the game.
To put it mildly, the number of rounds played on UK golf courses is down. What is the most worrying though is the fact that most rounds were down in the summer months. For Golf, this is the peak season, the time to attract new players. There is a lot that can be said to help anaylse this. However, one of the most crushing reasons is the lack of coverage.
When Sky Sports televised the Open Championship, viewing figures were down. If people don't watch golf, then they don't get inspired to play golf. It really is as simple as that.
However, there are positives to draw from the data. Golf may have faced a decline in rounds played but it's is not as bad as we all first thought. The final quarter of the year actually saw a rise in rounds played. A mild Autumn/Winter saw more players take advantage of the weather.
So what can be done to increase partcipation, after all, that is what we are in the game for. Well the introduction of Golf Express by England Golf is certainly a help. 9 holes could be a viable solution for those who can't afford the four and a bit hours on a course.
More exposure is almost certainly needed. With the Open at Royal Birkdale this year (One of the most popular venues) course around the North West of England will see a rise. Women's golf is also a key area where clubs must take advantage. The rise of interest in the women's game could help increase rounds per club and in doing so, save golf.
So the data is a mixed bag of what we already knew, we are in decline...but we can be saved. The data only shows the numbers. It's how we react to it that really matters.