While Nielsen ratings are by no means a measure of a sports' popularity, I do think it's fascinating to see how much players quoted in this Karen Crouse New York Times piece suggest the game is healthier than flatlining ratings indicate.
“TV ratings are really not a measure of whether golf is popular,” said Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion.
His view is widely held by the pros, who see ratings as a flawed indicator of golf’s reach. Television is the pretty packaging. The substance of golf is the indelible — and wholly organic — image from the end of the P.G.A. Championship, when Jordan Spieth and a handful of other players stuck around long after they were finished so they could be among the first people to congratulate Thomas.
The show of sportsmanship highlighted golf’s capacity for competition and friendship. It made golf look cool and fun, the Tour veteran Charley Hoffman said, adding, “I think it can’t do anything but help the game.”
Topgolf, a booming entertainment franchise with roughly three dozen locations around the country and several more to open soon, is an entryway to golf for adults. It offers a more relaxed approach and easy access to the game.
Do the barefoot man and the woman in stilettos count as golfers? Paul Casey believes so.
“They are still golf fans, they are still absorbing, or taking in — consuming — the game,” he said, adding, “I don’t think the game has any issues whatsoever. I just think it’s changing and it’s organic. I think it’s cool.”