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The USGA has been accused of many things during its existence. Some, if not many believe it is insulated to its ways and marches to the beat of its own drum. During it annual meeting held over the weekend, the USGA acknowledged it isn’t concerned with the number of golfers in the country. It believes with history on its side, that people will return to playing the game. Its only a matter of time.

“I think our industry gets caught up in looking at data about participation. And participation in all sports has been down, in a downturn probably since 2005 with the exception of probably soccer and lacrosse,” stated Tom O’Toole Jr, the USGA’s 63rd president. “We think that this is about sustaining a game, we mean economically and environmentally. The environmental piece is probably the No. 1 challenge that the game has. Participation is going to come back. We've already seen this. If you look at the junior numbers, they were at a height in 2005 and they've dropped since then. But if you look back in the '80s and '90s, we're equal to that, as it relates to junior participation.

“So we have to focus on participation, but we have to focus on making the game sustainable, and particularly environmental. Make sure that all the things that we've talked about in the last several years, how long does it take to play the game and our efforts there. And really taking data and coming up with scientific solutions at how we can play the game faster, or is the game welcoming. Do we welcome people into the game, which will then, of course, by logical progression, increase its participation rate.

“Participation rates, in our view, is a myopic look at this problem. We're looking at that, but we're trying to get what makes the game more sustainable. That's really where we're going to place our resources.”

USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis shared his two cents on the topic. “When it gets right down to it, we all play golf for different reasons, but if we don't enjoy it we're not going to play. I think that over the last 40 or so years we've seen a trend in this country where hard equals good. And we actually think enjoyment equals good. There's supposed to be a challenge to it. But having very high rough everywhere and really fast greens and fairways cut to a low, that's not doing anything to help the game.”