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Golf loses popularity

The most e-mailed story on the New York Times website Thursday dealt with the declining popularity of golf among the masses. Fewer people are playing, citing money and the time it takes to play a round.

Jim Kass, the research director of the National Golf Foundation, an industry group, said the gradual but prolonged slump in golf has defied the adage, “Once a golfer, always a golfer.” About three million golfers quit playing each year, and slightly fewer than that have been picking it up. A two-year campaign by the foundation to bring new players into the game, he said, “hasn’t shown much in the way of results.”

“The man in the street will tell you that golf is booming because he sees Tiger Woods on TV,” Mr. Kass said. “But we track the reality. The reality is, while we haven’t exactly tanked, the numbers have been disappointing for some time.”

It's not just golf that has suffered.

The disappearance of golfers over the past several years is part of a broader decline in outdoor activities — including tennis, swimming, hiking, biking and downhill skiing — according to a number of academic and recreation industry studies.

In the gay and lesbian world, my sense is that sports participation is booming as younger people come out sooner and don't have the stigma against sports that their elders often had. Even golf has a good following, with at least 12 gay and lesbian organizations springing up in the past few years. Not having children, many gays have both the time and money to play a sport traditionally associated with the button-downed mainstream. -Jim Buzinski