Mori: Golf. A rich man’s sport?

Unfortunately, a small minority took the bait and reacted with insults (of little use in improving the image of the game they profess to love), but an encouraging majority instead tried to engage with reasoned and reasonable responses.

Unfortunately, despite requests from several different backgrounds, the original poster chose not to elaborate on how they came to their conclusion, but in some ways that’s a moot point.

The reality is that for the statement “Golf. The “sport of a rich person” to withstand scrutiny would require a definition of “rich” so broad that most members of the community would refuse to accept it.

Despite this, however, there remains in the non-golfing population a mythical link between wealth and golf that is a serious problem for the game.

In fact, it is perhaps golf’s biggest problem, one that will become increasingly apparent in the years to come.

As pressure continues to grow on public golf facilities (ironically the affordable golf option for the majority of the “unrich” who love the game), this perception of golf and money being inextricably linked will become more toxic.

If public golf continues to be targeted, children risk being denied the opportunity to find a sport for life, or even a profession. PHOTO: iStock.

That’s why it’s important – respectfully – to call out flaws in statements like the one made in the Tweet above, whenever and wherever they are made.

Regardless of whether those on the other side are arguing in good faith, golf (we’re talking public golf here) must consistently make its case in a reasoned and factual manner.

Access to the game is not a right, it is a privilege and as such must be earned and re-earned.

Lessons take up a lot of space and to the uneducated, statements that the game is only for the “privileged few” who can “afford the club fees and the clobber” (Nikki Gemmell, February 2021) seem reasonable.

Naturally, we as golfers understand the overly simplistic and factually incorrect objective applied, but the mostly indifferent general public does not.

And when it comes to issues like maintaining or closing public golf courses, it becomes important. Extremely important.

“The reality is that for the statement ‘Golf. A sport of the rich’ to stand up to scrutiny, it would require a definition of ‘rich’ so broad that most members of the community would refuse to accept it. non-golfer a mythical link between wealth and golf that is a serious problem for the game.” -Rod Morris.

So, in order to clarify why many of these arguments are wrong, here is a list of what is often said and why it is wrong:

Bad. Golf can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Green fees on most Sydney public courses are around $25-$40 for 18 holes with concessions available for juniors and retirees etc. It’s comparable to the cost of going to the cinema to watch a movie. Equipment is a one-time purchase and while it’s possible to spend thousands, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, those who follow Sandy Jamieson on twitter (@jamogolf) would be well aware that many players find their clubs free during board scraps.

  • Golf is for the few:

Bad. Public golf, by definition, is available to any member of the public who wants to play and pays the appropriate greens fee. As with national parks, the fee contributes to maintenance and staff costs. Just because the majority chooses not to play golf doesn’t mean it’s for the few in the same way that most people who don’t use the public library doesn’t change the fact that it is an easily accessible public good.

  • Golf takes up too much space:

Bad. The irony of this argument is that it usually comes from people who simultaneously want more “green space” in urban areas, which leads us to…

  • Golf courses should become “open green spaces” again:

Bad. Golf courses are already open green spaces. The definition of “open green space” is not limited to parks and bushland. Those who make this argument are usually trying to say that they would rather the open space be used for something other than golf, an argument that has no more legitimacy than space being used for golf.

Bad. Golf is a game played by more butchers than lawyers, and like almost all other recreational activities (tennis, jogging, biking, hiking, hiking, etc.) it is played by a wide range of the community. To infer that golfers are not part of the wider community is offensive. And wrong.

  • Golf courses should be moved out of urban areas to places where there is more space available:

Bad. This argument is particularly offensive because it suggests that those who live in cities do not deserve immediate access to golf. If you had the same argument about football pitches, cricket pitches and public swimming pools, there would rightly be an outcry.

And young people are particularly disadvantaged by this notion. Even if you don’t like golf, proactively and deliberately denying children access to a legitimate hobby that they could enjoy for a lifetime – or even make their profession – is a difficult position to defend.

There are undoubtedly others on this list, but the bottom line is that most of the arguments made against the game and its existence are poorly thought out.

Can golf do better, in all areas, from environment to diversity? Yes.

Should golf better share its space with the rest of the community? Yes too.

But is campaigning to eradicate gambling from our cities positive? No. In fact, I think the opposite is true and governments should be encouraging more people to try golf.

Assuming there are regular readers of this space, all the points made here – from both sides – will be instantly recognizable.

It’s a circular discussion and it can be frustrating. But it is an area that golfers must continue to engage in because the stakes are high.

© Golf Australia. All rights reserved.

Michael C. Ford