Dec 4th, 2015
Not So Big In Japan...
The golf love affair seems to be over
Words: The Brigadier
Golf’s love affair in Japan seems to be over, as golf courses there are closing at the rate of one a week. Efforts by the industry to deflect the “2015 problem” — the recognition by Japan’s baby boomers that golf is too expensive and time-consuming to play regularly — have failed.
Campaigns aimed at younger Japanese have not inspired the next generation of golfers, who don’t see golf as proof of their status, and don’t feel the need to tee it up with their bosses.
The number of regular golfers is approaching half the level of its early 1990s peak of 13.7m. Of that, the proportion over the age of 70, who play on weekdays and have helped drive average course revenues down by a third in the past decade, has surged to more than 17 per cent.
New courses continued to open until the mid-2000s, even as memberships plunged. Starved of both paying members and staff, courses have closed or put themselves up for sale. About 50 courses shuttered in the year to end-March, and more are expected this year.
Japan’s demographic time boom has finally caught up with golf in Japan, and it’s not a pretty picture. In a fast moving, and less hierarchical world, golf has failed to adapt – again. There must be lessons to be learnt from the Japanese experience.