|Not Shown: Shoppers|
Today, Dick's Sporting Goods laid off 500 PGA pros from its various golf shops, because, well, um, capitalism. People haven't been buying enough golf gear to keep all of these people in snooty tips and recommendations for the latest $300+ set of irons, so after a month of massive mark downs (I, personally, scored last year's Taylor driver for less than two rounds with cart at my local muni), the ax fell.
And it's not just the problem for a single retail chain, or the sudden unemployment of hundreds of men and women who richly deserve poverty for being better at the game than I will ever be. Television ratings for the British Open were through the floorboards because Tiger Woods isn't Tiger Woods any more, and golf continues to be something that fewer and fewer people want to do, or watch. A course in the U.S. closes every few days, and new ones aren't being opened. This, despite an aging populace that's supposed to be good for golf, because, um, well, golf is hard and frustrating and it appeals to people who have had that beaten into them over decades. Also, it helps to be old so that your family doesn't care if you abandon them for five hours and beyond to slug your way through a course.
Also, um, golf is a choice and can be expensive, so, well, all of that. Golf is dying, or at the very least getting course corrected back to niche status, and as it tends to take up a lot of space and water, it's even an eco-friendly thing to root for its demise. Die, golf, die!
And if you really want to know the true health of the game, I dare you -- honestly -- to give up your email address to a course and play a round. The only way to get more progressively desperate and persistent communication, especially if you don't come back real soon, is to be a cute teenage girl who pity dates a chub.
And to this, I say, Yes and Amen and Yes, Please, Chub, Beg Me Some More. I likes it when they beg.
The comedian Lewis Black, an avid golfer, has a great rant about what asshats (um, no, he didn't say hats, but I haz advertisers) golfers are, and how every golfer claims to be a fan of nature, but would chain saw any tree in his path to give him a better shot at the green. It's worth finding, really, because like all rants and comedy, it's more true than exaggeration.
I'll also go one further... I have, as a golfer, as much interest and appreciation for anyone other than me (and assuming I'm playing better than them, my immediate friends) as I do the trees.
The people on the hole in front of me are clearly going too goddamned slow, while the people behind me are clearly going too goddamned fast. The fact that there are other people on the course also means that there's likely to be a ranger twerp tooling around, giving me grief for the lack of a 90-degree angle on the fairway with the cart, or telling me some such nonsense about pace. And all of you other people are clearly hogging the cart girl. She is mine, I tell you, mine all mine. If I hit a ball in your fairway, I need you to give me time and space to hit the recovery shot. If you hit your ball into my fairway, you are clearly too bad to be playing this game. And so on, and so on. Golfers are asshats, and that goes double for me when I've got a club in my hand.
As a golfer, I have, of course, an excuse. In the late 1990s, before my first child was born and I lost the ability to leave the house for well over a decade (because, well, the second came 5.25 years later), I spent a month in Golf Heaven. That would be southern Oregon, where the combination of dubious development choices (build more places that old white Californians will want to white flight to!), low population density and the seasonal lure of hunting combined to give me my choice of 4 and 5 star courses on weekends that were damned near deserted. I'd get there in the early afternoon, pay something like $25 to walk (Alas, I was young) for 18 holes, and wind up playing 36, because, well, the people who ran the course just went the hell home at 5pm, rather than stare at the walls in the clubhouse. The weather was idyllic, there would be no one else on the course, and I played some of the best rounds of my life there.
And if all of you other people would just not be on the course, and stop buying gear entirely so that the stores just put brand new gear in dumpsters for me to scrounge for free, I'd get that good again, and the game could be the best thing ever. I'd also become 15 years younger. Simple plan, really.
So, Dick's... any further sales, now that you're saving so much on employee salaries?