Amidst reports, local golf course owner says the future is green - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Amidst reports, local golf course owner says the future is green

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MARSHFIELD (WAOW) -- New numbers show the sport of golf is suffering. A drop in tee times has golfers across the country concerned. But, amidst those reports, one local course says the future of golf is green.

11-year-old Nick Urban steps up to the tee.

“I like driving it, I guess hitting the ball far,” said Urban as he adjusted his feet, kept his eye on the ball and swung.

“It's my favorite sport because it gives you time to relax and think about stuff,” he said.

Urban is one of 18 children at Marshfield Country Club's golf camp. It's a week long program that teaches the basics of the sport.

“The key to success in golf is to start playing before 12-years-old,” said Chip Acker, owner and golf professional at Marshfield Country Club.

But new numbers show that's not happening. According to a report done by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, golf is suffering. The reports shows participation rates of people aged 18-34 fell 13% last year. Acker says he knows that all too well.

“Three or four years ago it got to the point where we'd only have one or two students sign up,” explained Acker. “One year we had to cancel a camp.”

Why the drop? Golf professionals blame the speed of the game, and the price. According to data from the National Golf Foundation, last year, the average fee for nine holes of golf with a cart was $23. $52 for 18 holes. But, Acker says that's beginning to change.

“The recent economic downturn has made golf more affordable,” explained Acker. “A lot of courses have cut costs to get people in.”

That's something that could help get more people on the green.

“Golf needs to evolve a little bit into a more fast-paced, more exciting type of game but it's going in the right direction,” said Acker.

Just ask Urban.

“I spread it about this camp, the instructors are great,” said Urban.

Just like his swing.

This is the first year the golf camp was over capacity. 18 children, ages 9-11 took part in the week long program.

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