Like playing golf? Then you're in a shrinking minority in America, where fewer people are willing to play a sport that's seen as time-consuming and expensive, the Washington Post reports. Not only that, its traditionalism seems contrary to today's lifestyle of fitness classes, extreme races, and diddling on smartphones. Even all-time great golfer Jack Nicklaus has doubts: "I'd like to play a game that can take place in three hours," he tells CNN. "I'd quite like to play a game that I can get some reasonable gratification out of very quickly—and something that is not going to cost me an arm and a leg." Americans seem to agree, as sales of golf clothes and clubs decline, women and minorities show less interest, and people aged 18 to 30 play 35% less often than they did 10 years ago.
Golf hit a "high water mark" when 30 million people played 550 million rounds in 2005, the head of the World Golf Foundation told CBS News last year. But the recession, tough winters, and a low-end cost of $700 per year cast a shadow over the professional set's grassy playground. Dick's Sporting Goods felt the pain after buying the Golf Galaxy retailer for over $200 million in 2006, and closing many stores since: How golf "translates to retail, is in a structural decline," says Dick's CEO. "And we don’t see that changing." And while golf stars are able to win more money than ever, there's no Tiger Woods-like player to inspire young people to play. "Mum and dad are working, and kids are playing video games," says an analyst. "That doesn't leave a whole load of time or people to populate these golf courses." (Read more golf stories.)