When I was growing up in Utah, one of the things that revolved around my life was playing on my Nintendo 64. The games I had all revolved around Mario to one degree or another, and one of the games was Mario Golf. It involves several characters in the Mario universe (as well as several weirdly game-specific characters) trying to best each other at...well, you know. It truly impacted my life; indeed, if i never played the game, I probably would never have developed an interest in the actual game.
Fast forward to this decade, and golf appears to be on a severe decline. Of course, it's presented in the air of another thing that Millennials are ruining. However, looking at everything about golf now, it's enough to make you ask John Oliver's favorite question.
In all honesty, it makes you wonder why golf still exists these days. As a national sport, the recent ratings for the Masters Tournament this year spell it out pretty clearly. The upswing may have been the increased streaming views online, but does this trend mean that people are still watching golf like they used to?
Beyond TV ratings, participation rates among Millennials are derisory. It basically boils down to two things: who has the money for golf, and who has the money for golf? This isn't simply a matter of Millennials having little money; an 18-hole round of golf may seem inexpensive, and even Derby Grange in Dubuque has some fairly cheap activities. Of course, one golf course in Iowa is worlds away from Pebble Beach. You also need to figure in things like golf clubs. Simply put, when you're figuring in rent, food, transportation and everything else, who has the time or money for golf?
Now, golf could've died a slow and dignified death, steadily wafting into obscurity as generations present and future stop playing in ever-increasing numbers. However, golf's already numbered days might get a boosted acceleration into nothingness because of one inescapable factor: Donald Trump.
Yes, Trump has been accused of a number of things related to his ridiculous love of golf and golf courses (and he isn't the only one to make a bad environmental impact; golf courses have been, and continue to be, insanely harmful and wasteful to the environment, all things considered). His trips to Mar-a-Lago are exorbitant to the extreme, and his golf playing is draining the country of dollars better spent elsewhere. Of course he doesn't care about that, but at least we're seeing the final desecration of another curiously time-honored tradition. Golf is almost sacrosanct to American politics; presidents have played it for decades, with almost every one since Taft playing and the biggest highlights perhaps being Nixon's pre-presidency (but post-vice presidency) and Eisenhower's post-presidency feat of hitting a hole-in-one. But we saw how partisan even golf can be when conservatives ripped Obama apart for playing golf as well. Now with Donald Trump, golf has shifted from something that could be seen as a distraction to something that's so utterly tied to Trump, it can't be seen as anything other than ugly. So, as I've said before, Trump is actually doing us a service.
Let's face it. We're not shedding tears over the loss of golf's ubiquity in American culture. That's not to say golf has lost all of its appeal; I still enjoy playing Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (a Nintendo GameCube game) on my Wii, and watching videos of the Nintendo 64 game on YouTube. I also wouldn't mind playing a game of mini-golf if the opportunity arose. Additionally, it turns out golf can also be a surprisingly good form of exercise. However, with its pitiful participation rates, unjustified costs, and its ties to Donald Trump, not to mention the ugly history of country clubs (plus, Caddyshack probably needs some reexamining), it's enough to make you ask the words immortalized by Last Week Tonight: How is this still a thing?