USGA's O'Toole: "The health of the game is in trouble."

Dan O'Neill looks at the state of the game and uses his hometown of St. Louis as a guide. First there were these surprisingly strong comments from the USGA's Tom O'Toole, who certainly can't be accused of having his head in the sand when it comes to the health of golf:

"It's a tough time all the way around," said Tom O'Toole, USGA executive committee member and executive of the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association. "The health of the game is in trouble."

The 2013 Senior PGA Championship will be conducted at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, followed in 2018 by the PGA Championship. Otherwise, there is nothing pending, certainly not the succession of USGA championships the city enjoyed over a period of time.

"It's a very interesting discussion with the health of golf," O'Toole added. "The plethora of championships and interest from clubs in hosting those events, that we had in the past, simply isn't there because of the economy. There's really nothing on the horizon."

And there was this uplifting thought...

For all the technological advancements and agronomic improvements, golf remains quite costly, difficult and time-consuming. Davenport attended a "State of the Industry" seminar recently, and Stuart Lindsay of Edgehill Golf Advisors caught his attention with a statement.

"It was kind of shocking," he recalled. "He said, 'Do you realize that kayaking is now more popular than golf?' And I'm not sure of the context, if there was some fine aspect of it that he was referring to. But I mentioned it to another PGA pro and he said, 'You know, now that you say that, my neighbor down the street has a kayak on his car.'"

Davenport laughed, but added, "For those of us who have been in the industry for a long time, that's hard to take."