The reason why golf courses are disappearing

Society has it tough. “It” gets blamed for lots of stuff. Almost everything, in fact. Most of the time, this is uncalled for. The roots of the specific problem are usually more local or intimate. However society is the reason why golf courses are disappearing.

Let me ‘splain.

This is going to be one of those times when we all need to hop in my Wayback machine and head back into my distant past. I won’t prejudice your “listening ear” with any warnings ahead of time (I’ll leave those for the end).

Last month, a friend called me and, during our conversation, he mentioned that the golf course near him was being torn down and homes were being built instead. I mentioned the same thing was happening to a course near me. This led to an interesting conversation that covered the following issues.

So, back when I was a youth, we did this thing called “playing”. It’s an odd concept, I agree, and I doubt you would find many kids today understanding said concept, but let’s go over some basics.

Outside

One of the critical requirements of “playing” is that it must be done outside. Despite what you might imagine, there is only one overriding reason this must be the case: Less things to break.

When you play inside, lamps, windows, furnishings and various stainable and breakable objects are in danger.

Streets

Another important need for “playing” is for there to be streets. For the uninformed, these are long, usually paved, stretches of primarily asphalt that usually have at least some cars on either side.

Streets take the place of backyards, since those are significantly limited in some areas and non-existent in others.

Neighbors

Finally, the last ingredient to “playing” is that you not only must have neighbors, but you actually have to know them!

Yes, that means more than a wave as you go to the mailbox or a nod on trash day. Knowing their name helps. Actually talking is a plus. Calling them friends is, of course, a stretch, but very helpful.

How it works

Here’s how those impossibly unrelated elements come together:

– You go outside. You step into the street. Your neighbors follow the same process. Then, you engage in some form of communal activity (all G or PG rated).

Example

My friends (oh gosh, there’s that word again) would go out onto the street and play football. There could be as many as eight of us, though any more and we might have to head to something called a “field”.

The process included things like waiting for cars to pass, trying not to run into or throw into parked vehicles and begging our parental units for additional playing time after we were told to come inside (for the third time).

Take this process and repeat it across most of the neighborhoods of my youth and you had an active and athletic (such as we were) society.

And then

And then…the future arrived.

TV’s got so cheap, even the kids could get their own. Then came cable. Next was video games (and personal computers). And finally, smart phones and texting. Or Facetime. And Skype.

Now, tell me, how many neighborhoods do you know that the kids (above K-grade) are playing outside? How often do you see them getting together to do an activity?

Here comes that disclaimer I warned you about earlier. This is not a post from a crotchety old man bemoaning the “way things were”. I’m just pointing out the changes in societal behavior from just my “generation” to now.

Hey, I get it, the world has changed (moved on, as Stephen King might write). Kids don’t go in for all that sweaty stuff anymore. They can have more fun in pretend reality than in reality itself.

But, it’s a pretty simple logical trip: fewer people “playing” outdoors and together equals fewer people interested in outdoor activity.

And that means all those tennis courts I used to have to wait to get a chance to play? All open. Those bowling alleys I used to have to wait to get a lane? Plenty now (of the few bowling alleys that remain).

And those golf courses I used to play on? Well, not so many of those around either. Society is to blame, you see. Society is the reason why golf courses are disappearing.

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