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January 2017 42 www.sportseventsmagazine.com t SPORT Report Golf is a game of numbers but recent studies have indicated that it has become different strokes for different folks — namely millennials. Whether it's the National Golf Founda- tion reporting an exodus of 200,000 golfers in the 18-35 crowd in 2013 or market research company Golf Datatech announc- ing that for the same year, the lowest total rounds of golf since 1995 were played, the question remains whether or not millennials are handicapping the game. It's true the industry is feeling the pinch. According to the World Golf Foundation, 160 courses closed in the United States compared to just 14 that opened in 2013, which also marked the eighth straight year that more courses closed than opened. No- table golf brands and retailers have also cut back, from reducing staff to closing stores. But while one demographic appears to be on the decline, another is on the rise. According to the World Golf Foundation, the number of youth golfers — those ages 6-17 — has increased by 20 percent since 2010. "The growth of the game is stagnant at the millennial and adult level," said John Kim, senior director of communications and media for U.S. Kids Golf, an organi- zation founded in 1996 with the purpose of attracting kids to — and keeping them interested in — the game. "Our focus and demographic of the game is the strongest point of golf's growth." U.S. Kids Golf offers a well-rounded experience to youth and their families, according to Kim, by selling equipment designed specifically for young golfers, hosting more than 1,000 tournaments each year that attract more than 1,500 kids from 54 countries and providing coaching certification. "All work together in concert to prepare the family for getting the child involved in golf," Kim said. "You have to have family involved to buy clubs and sign up for tour- naments." While Kim credits that family involve- ment to the success of U.S. Kids Golf, the disconnect between millennials and the sport remains a significant challenge. MILLENNIAL DISCONNECT Various media outlets have suggested that golf's time-consuming nature, exclu- sivity, lack of diversity and complicated rules aren't in line with many millennials' values. Instead, they prefer ease and speed, inclusiveness, a welcoming atmosphere and easier-to-follow rules, such as in Ultimate Frisbee, which happens to be a popular sport among that generation. Rather than throwing in the towel when it comes to millennials and golf, though, there are efforts to tweak the game to make it more appealing. Enter Topgolf, an entertainment and event venue that has reimagined the tradi- tional game of golf, turning it into fun and competitive games played in "bays" similar to bowling lanes. With food, drink, HDTVs and spaces for private groups, Topgolf has Millennials' Interest In Golf Declining WhileYouth Rising BY MICHELLE RYAN THREE. TWO. ONE.