Frequently, I engage in a conversation with my friends on what direction Golf should take to survive. Some of the issues, problems and concerns we have discussed have all had a viable solution or two. What seems to puzzle us. the average everyday golfer, is it does not seem Golf is interested in making any of the changes it needs to survive.
Overall, there are a number of things Golf can and needs to do to make it through these hard economic times. Lots of unanswered questions cause the issues to grow and the uncertainty of golf to become even more questionable.
Obviously the cost of golf touches everything and every issue golf has to address. Everything from Green Fees to pace of play is effected by some increase in the price of playing golf. There is no debate on the fact that it costs to build a golf course and manufacturer golf equipment. What is at debate is why does it cost that much to produce a golf course and a golf club.
In every discussion held highlighting the breakdown of the cost factors resulted in all agreeing that Greed plays a huge factor in MOST(not all)pricing structures in golf. Where is the waste or overpricing? Investor requirements, executive salaries and huge redundancies in production all sift out to the top reasons golf costs have gone up.
All conclude this issue of high cost of golf probably is not going away quickly even thought it will have to for golf to survive. So, the conclusions reached always maintains that GOLF has to take a new direction and move forward into markets golf has previously turn its head to or did not consider worthy.
Who Runs This Show?
In ever conversation about any issue golf faces it is asked,
Who really controls where golf is heading?
To most, the golf professional and tour professionals are the first image anyone has when they think of golf. So, naturally the instinct is they control golf. True, how the golf pros look is maintained by what golf and what the supporting industries want golf to look like, but do they control the direction golf currently is taking?
What is sometime forgotten, or not recognized, is the golfers of the world control the direction of golf. The industry and the golf companies of the world supply should be supplying that market. What seems to have taken place over the past 15 years is golf manufacturers and other supporting industries seem to want to take control of the golfer’s direction by pointing them to things in golf that are just financially out of reach of the normal golfer. Hummm, that sounds like class distinction, doesn’t it?
Does keeping golf out of reach of millions of people who want to play golf really help golf?
In the supply and demand economics of the world it would seem the golf industry is attempting to control the number of golfers. This plays into the cost factors that leach on to every issue in golf. Seems the game the golf industry is playing is, ‘if you keep the number of golfers down then there is no need for more golf courses so the supply of golf courses is less than the demand keeping the price to play goes up’. OR, is the game they are playing,… ‘lets charge as much as we can, make the huge profits and then cut and run leaving the mess for some other schmuck to sort out’. Either way, Does this help golf?
So who does control the direction of golf?
What to Do!
The economics of golf industry will force many golf related industry to reconsider their business plans. Today golfers, whether they can afford it or not, are not going to pay the prices the industry has pushed the cost of golf. Already there are signs that prices are changing but there needs to be more effort in marketing the changes to more economic golfing instead of golfers finding out the change in price through walking into the shop to find out the price is reduced. Would not a better form of communications and market help golf?
Who is the Future of Golf?
Many private and public golf clubs have just recently seen that the young people of today are going to be their customers or members. Yes, the First Tee and other junior programs have been around for awhile now, but have, more or less, turned into media circuses for some corporate sponsors. Yes, they have heightened the visibility of the need to introduce golf to more kids. However, there has not been enough trickle down to the kids on the street corner. Golf is still far out of reach not just financially, but socially for more kids to embrace golf the way team sports are embraced. Again, is this part of the plan? And, does this help Golf?
What Direction to Take
No matter what direction Golf takes to survive it has to insure its future which clearly is the junior golfers. However, there are other areas golf has to change direct towards if it is to survive much longer.
If someone missed the junior golf phase of their life it is pretty difficult as an adult to picking up all of the social skills junior golfers are taught in the truly good junior golf programs. Many adults go through their golfing life without knowing that it takes more than an hour lesson to learn to play golf. Once of the biggest deterrents to the masses interest in playing golf is learning how to play golf. Golf facilities feel that offering a 30 minute golf lesson or a series of golf lessons is the most they can offer. For golf to survive the teaching of the game and everything that it touches needs to improve. Would this be good for golf?
Instead of leaving a person to take on the golf course with an attitude that they “have learned enough”..or ’I can’t get any better’.. golfers should be offered as part of their initial training a golf lesson check up.
The better golf skills a person has the more they are going to enjoy the game…so why not keep the lessons coming once the initial training has been completed. Does this help Golf?
The most popular excuses people give me for NOT playing golf is always based upon guilt. Dad feel guilty of spending time on the golf course instead of spending time with the family..or wife. Mom, feels guilty that she is neglecting her family if she steps out for a round of golf. Now, it is true, that parents with kids under 6 do have a disadvantage, but not a total disability.
Golf facilities have recently come around with family members benefits. However, more has to be done than offering a baby sitter.
Golf facilities are missing the boat with not organizing golf learning experiences and outings for the entire family.
Again, many golf facilities have recognized the impact women are having on golf but yet come up with programs developed to breaking down how golf is played and the etiquettes women golfers strive to understand golf better. Many of the efforts golf facilities put forward in developing women programs usually consist of a 9 Hole League or other programs that offer little in creating an environment for the women golfers to gather a full sense of purpose of golf. Many leave the game discussed with not knowing what is expected or what the end result is to them playing golf. Is this good for Golf?
Many women programs are produced by someone on the golf club’s staff that is not a fulltime golfer…or does not play golf at all. In order for golf to survive the golf facilities around the world need to start offering women’s golf programs on equal footing as the men’s. Would this be good for golf?
Pick Up the Tab
Bargain hunting is the way of the future for golf. The high end clubs will need to wave ‘bye-bye’ to the $300 green fees..no matter where they are. What has to be part of a $100 green fee is more perks than a bucket of balls. One of the big values many golf facilities shy away from is adding food to the green fee.
Years ago many clubs offered a hamburger at the turn included in the green fee. Now with the health conscious golfers food is still a lure, but on their terms. Whatever it takes, more value to the green fee has to be offered to get golfers to let go of that spare dollar. Will this help golf?
Stop the Show
One of the directions that golf has to get away from is in it continually being looked at by businesses as an “Entertainment Expense”. Like the health clubs and fitness centers that are popping up around the country, golf needs to change their image as a luxury and push towards becoming more vital service to a person’s health and business needs. Will this help golf?
Who to Trust
One of the biggest turn offs beginners golfers develop during their entry into golf is how they are treated by veteran skilled golfers who. There are more people leaving golf than entering golf just from the intimidation factor.
“OH, I’ll never learn to play as well as those guys, so why bother?”
Golf facilities need to offer an incentive plan to motivate more senior members to introduce someone to golf and help them through the social and political quagmires of the golf community so they will learn that the picture of a golfer is not the score they shot but how they got around to shooting that score. Would this help golf?
Walking away from anything of value or something that was invested in and did not turn out is very hard to do. However, there will be a large number of investors groups that will have to do just that if they want golf to survive. The constant demand on a high return on their investments on everything in golf is pulling down golf with them.
The huge increase in the number of new golf courses being developed over night and the trillions of dollars gathered to build them in hopes that the real estate sold around the golf courses would supply the return of investment is now got golf by the throat.
The golf facilities that were built since 1998 were needed to handle the expected increase in popularity in golf that was brought on by the arrival of Tiger Woods. What was not needed during this time was the add-on home developments around the golf courses. It is understood that the home develops were what was going to pay for the building of the golf course but in most cases that did not happen..was that good for golf?
Now the dollars invested are not going to be returned and investors need to face the fact they need to just walk away.
There are a lot of issues golf faces to survive and for every issue there is a solution. Some of them golfers are going to like and some are not going to like the change. Whatever direction golf takes to survive the golfers are who they need to make the decisions for. Without the golfers…is there really any golf industry? And is that good for golf?
Let me know how I can help