Why golf has gone the way of the three-martini lunch

Lately, Steven Herz has noticed something different on the golf course: No one is there.

“The courses are much less crowded,” he says. “It’s fascinating to me how open they are.” Herz, 50, who lives in Manhattan and is the president of talent agency IF Management, is a member of the golfing service Eligo, which allows him to access 80 private golf clubs in the U.S. and Europe without having to join one.

The meager attendance Herz has noticed isn’t limited to courses in the New York metro area. The entire U.S. golf industry has been experiencing slow growth in participation and club memberships for the past five years, according to data from industry research firm IBISWorld: From 2011 to 2016, golf course and country club revenue grew by little more than 1% annually.

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