While Bob Mulcahy and I spent the day with the industry’s movers and shakers at the Golf 20/20 Conference at World Golf Village during the recent Players Championship we got to see a lot of snapshots of what is going on in the game today. Some numbers were promising others were fairly depressing, but the overall takeaway was that Golf Business Network’s No Golfer Left Behind initiative is more relevant and more necessary than at any time in the history of American golf.

As we keep saying nobody can stand on the sidelines when it comes to player development and filling the pipeline with future customers.

Some of the numbers from Golf 20/20:

Since 2005, 17.9% of core golfers have left the game
In 2010, 3.6% of core golfers left the game

Beginning of 2010                       27.1 million golfers in the U.S.

Lost during 2010                           4.6 million
Beginners in 2010                         1.5 million
Former golfers who came back     2.1 million

End of 2010                                  26.1 million golfers in the U.S.

Rounds played in the U.S. has slipped from 500 million in 2005 to 475 million in 2010

Average rounds per golfer was a good sign that the core golfers who are staying in the game are playing more with rounds played per golfer increasing from 16.8 to 18.2 per year.

5 million people who called themselves golfers only went to a driving range in 2010

A bit more good news: 25-30 million Americans who don’t play said they are somewhat or very interested in playing the game. But the industry has not done a very good job of reaching out to these people so far. A lot of discussion was about figuring out how to find and attract these people to come to the golf facilities and try the game.

Expectations are we will close more courses than we open for at least then next three years and we will see U.S. golf facility counts go from a high of 16,000 to about 15,000 by end of this decade.

Only 10% of golfers are private club members in the U.S.

Major discussions revolved around making the game more FUN, more WELCOMING, and more TEAM ORIENTED for kids programs (more like Little League).

Bob and I will continue sharing our thoughts from Golf 20/20 in upcoming blog posts and in the next GBN The Network Newsletter in July.

It’s time for every GBN member to be adding more player development programs for the Summer season. Don’t sit on the sidelines. It could mean future job security for you and your staff.