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Then and now...

Peter McCormick


It's no secret that the rate of change today outpaces any other in history. What used to be measured in centuries now often comes down to a matter of years or even months.


I read a lot of novels. Turns out most are police or legal procedurals, with an occasional classic thrown in for contrast.  My wife buys the new books for the local library (it's a small Vermont country store-type library, in a room off the Town Hall - to give you a sense of scale), so I get first crack at the new ones coming out.  She also runs the library's annual book sale, so I get first pickings through the books donated for the sale.


These novels illustrate well the rate of change within our society, and I usually draw a mental distinction between those dated pre-2001 (the 'year the world changed', so to speak) and those written since.


The last one I read (The Poet, by Michael Connelly) was dated 1997. Not that long ago, at first glance. But as I got into it, the cultural and technological changes that have occurred in the 16 or 17 years since became readily apparent. Smoking in bars, restaurants and hotel rooms. Fax machines. Pay phones. Modems. Airport security rudimentary compared to today.


A great fuss was made about a new technological development at the time: a digital camera.


Think about the technologies (and companies) that have been tossed into the bin in recent years: 35mm film. Audio CDs (DVDs are following fast). Blackberrys (save for a few diehards). Plug-in Garmin and TomTom navigation systems. Even point-and-shoot cameras.  As more and more tech gets integrated into smartphones, even the ground-breaking iPod is obsolescing.


Yes, things change and we change with them or get left behind.


Back to that 'line in the sand' before- and after-2001.  One could draw a similar line between the heyday of golf expansionism and the contraction the industry is in today. Change, adapt or get out of the way.


Golf purists scoff at things like 6-hole rounds, 15" golf cups, Foot Golf and the Golfboard. But like it or not, change we must... and that includes broadening the appeal of the game to the Millennials (and future generations) while also finding new ways to maximize the use, utility and revenue derived from the costly real estate the game is played on.  


Remember when Hootie and the Blowfish were getting so much press for the game?  Golf was cool.  It has to find a way to be that again.


I'll be fascinated to watch the Hack Golf initiative to see if it can find some answers to the decline of the game. The overbuilding of golf courses is correcting itself. That's a fairly easy albeit painful process.  The flight of golfers from the game is not.  According to The Wall Street Journal, "golf in the last five years has lost 25% of its core players, defined as those who chalk up eight or more rounds annually, and 30% of those in the treasured 18- to 34-year-old demographic."  THAT needs to be fixed, pronto.


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