Rounds up in 2012. So golf’s not dead yet?

The National Golf Foundation issued a report this week saying that there were 26 million more rounds of golf played in the United States in 2012 than were played in 2011. That’s a 5.7 percent increase in a time when many people have been worried about the health of the game.

According to the NGF report, improved weather, particularly in the northern part of the United States, is one of the big reasons for the jump in rounds play. Overall, 490 million rounds were played in 2012. That includes a 10 percent increase in the Atlantic Coast area and a 10.8 percent in the Great Lakes area last year. Since those areas are where most of the golf courses in the country are, there is good news all around,

But what does this mean about the people who have been kind of doom and gloom sayers about the game? Does it mean they have been wrong about the game’s health, or does it mean that just better weather is the reason for the increase, not a better economy or man increase in the core number of players in the game.

That’s where many people see the biggest threat to the game, the fact that the number of players is not growing. Yes, it’s great that the golfer who do play played more last year, but it’s a long-term problem that the number of players continues to creep downward.

For now, let’s celebrate the fact that golf had a good year in 2012 and that the number of rounds played were up. But let’s not lose focus on the idea that we still need to be focused on where the game will be in 10 or 15 years, not just where the game is now.