再3The decline of golf, December 20th 2014 P105 3/3 (ゴルフの凋落3/3)
Golf has more than itself to blame for its challenges. Its decline is due in part to something even the most meticulous golfer cannot control：the economy. Paying to spend hours getting a white ball into tiny holes with fewer strokes as possible becomes harder to justify during times of economic hardship. In 2008 golf participation and spending slid at private clubs and public courses alike. Since the economy has pick up, benefiting the rich more than the poor, high-end courses in good locations have been doing well, according to Donald Trump, who owns 18 of them. People earning $100,000 or more now make up 45% of all golfers, up from 40% in 2005, according to KeyBanc Capital Markets. The middle and lower classes have been squeezed, which hurts mid-range golf courses and those in sparsely populated areas. Many municipal golf courses have closed, because governments are unable to justify support for golf when they have cut spending on education and social services. Society today is not as friendly to golf as it once was. Men who disappear on Saturdays and palm off child-rearing to their wives have more to worry about than a high handicap. Some clever golf gluttons have tried to interest their kids in golf, in order to justify a weekend round while still getting parental points, but fathers these days are more likely to be taking their children to various sporting activities than taking part in their own. Mr Owens at the Trenton Street Golf Course thinks that the high rate of divorce across America also keeps men from golf, because weekends are when they get to the children. Bringing in and retaining players below the age of 45 is more difficult than at any time in living memory. Millennials in America expect, if not instant gratification, at least near-term rewards. Golf's pay-offs can feel elusive. Dan Wald of the Boston Consulting Group, who advises sports businesses, says that golf video games actually decrease the chance of getting a young person to play golf, because hitting a ball smoothly down a real fairway is so much harder than on a virtual one. Golf has more competition for people's leisure time than ever before. Golf is an old-fashioned sport, obsessed with tradition. People still dress up as though they are auditioning to star in “Caddy-shack”, a 1980 comedy about a stuffy country club. Private golf clubs have not helped their cause by banning mobile devices and enforcing etiquette. One young female golfer complains of being scolded for wearing a tennis skirt when she played golf at an elite club, even though it met length requirements. The game's long history adds to its charm, but has sometimes damage its image. The sport has had a particularly uneasy relationship with women and minorities. One all-male golf club in Scotland had, until a few years ago, a sign hanging outside saying, “no dogs, no women”. (Some members objected to dogs not being allowed in, quips one insider.) The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland, a club founded in 1754 that supervises the game's rules, voted to admit women only in September 2014. America and golf used both to be racially segregated, but attitudes and demographics have changed faster in the nation as a whole than in the sport. Golf is not alone in struggling to appeal to the young. Participation among young people in many sports is down. Hunting, for example, has declined in popularity. Like golf, it is slow；unlike golf, it involves more real blood than some young people want to see. Those who play sports are specialising earlier, which disadvantages golf, where only the most elite schools have teams. A stunning 80m Americans take part in no sport at all. But those who get off their couch often prefer a rigorous workout, which explains the rise of triathlons, kitesurfing and other activities that leave participants breathless. The tech folk in Silicon Valley have their own athletic customs, such as cycling. Because golf courses have become so long, many golfers tootle around in cars without getting much exercise, rather defeating one of the points of sports.