The spectrum of the golf economy stretches between being anchored on one end by the recreational golfer who plays a few times a year and on the distant opposite end are the multi-billion dollar PGA/LPGA Tour events. What connects these two extreme together is the Business Golfer…the guy or gal who takes a client out for a round of golf before or after a business meeting; the business person who joins a country club so they have a place to meet with clients, employees and vendors; the companies that travel to resorts and vacation locations that facilitate conferences as getaways for corporate junkets. The Business Golfer controls a large section of the golf economy.
Though the golf industry overall is slumping it is the middle portion of the golf economy, where the business golfers are part of, that has dropped off immensely. This drop in business golf revenue is stressing the two extreme ends of golf’s economy to also be pulled down.
The drop in revenue from business outings at a golf course results in operations costs having to be covered from the recreational golfer’s green fees. Thus the golf facility either is forced into packing the golf courses with golfers or raising green fees. Neither of these options are desirable.
The the pull back of funds from small and large businesses who sponsor PGA and LPGA events is resulting in events being canceled placing an even larger burden on the astronomical unemployment rate. The impact of canceled events goes way beyond depressing a region’s economy. The cancelation or the higher pricing of sponsorship to cover shortfalls impacts the exposure of golf needed to keep the interest of millions towards playing more golf.
The continued pull back from the recreational golfer who is put off with slow pace of play due to the courses being packed to pay the bills and the cancellation of title sponsorship of professional golf events due to their concern for achieving an ROI will eventually effect the future of golf as we know it today.
What will help stop the threat to golf’s global existence and bring golf back into the realm of affordability is getting the business golfers back to using golf for their business.
The questions is..
Why are the business golfers pulling back from using golf as part of doing business?
What has taken place over the years is golf has been looked at by the business sector as just entertainment. True, it is entertaining to go and watch a professional golf event. However, there is much more to golf than many business people understand.
Way before the fail of the economy business golfers everywhere were out trying to MAKE playing golf with someone work as a sales tool. This was the beginning of a broad scale push back from using golf as a business tool since over 85% of business golfers where not getting any results in increases sales or ROI in the golf they were playing with people.
So, since the sales and marketing groups could not see any results from pitching someone while playing golf with them they pulled back. In many cases they not only pulled back from playing golf in business, but, to cover their ineptness of understanding the principles golf used for business, would start a negative word-of-mouth campaign voicing their opinion on lack of worthiness of playing golf as part of doing business.
This movement passed through the business community quickly and convinced many using golf correctly to develop business relationship to stop using golf at all since they did not want to look defiant to the leaders in the market. Thus, the pull back in the rounds of golf with clients, membership at country clubs and discontinuing of traveling to golf resorts to conduct business conferences.
Where does Golf Fit in Business?
What many in the business community have misunderstood for years about golf is its ability to uncover a person’s true character and display a person’s true personality. There have been a few of the naysayers of golf who speak badly of golf because they fear the part of golf that mandates a golfer to be honest. They would rather not have those deceptive traits be discovered since that is their strength in their market.
The strength of the trustworthiness of golfers produces value when it comes time to decide if the worthiness of doing business with them. In golf there is no hiding a character deficiency or untrustworthiness. Many times what was intended to be a sales pitch to someone after a round of golf turned into discovering reasons for not doing business with them.
Golf also is a great team builder. Playing golf with someone as a team or in competition against each other builds a bond. Adversities in personalities have to be dealt with to complete the round of golf to a successful conclusion.
Golf outings set a pace or atmosphere. In over 85% of the cases studied where golf was part of a business meeting a more calmer and productive business environment was established. The parties involved with a meeting held immediately after a round of golf were 90% more focused and settled into doing tasks than those businesses who just choice to do nothing but a business meeting. The primary reason for this improved atmosphere was found to be related to the parties discovering the personality traits of each other while on the golf course improving the effectiveness of communications between those individuals during the business meeting. The agenda for the meetings moved forward which resulted in better attitudes towards the conclusion of the meeting.
Rest and Relaxation are needed periodically in this stressful business climate. Burnout is the number one productivity killer in businesses today. Too many things being done by fewer people helps get the business through hard times but it tears down the morale needed to make the long run thru a recession. Golf outings or golf schools are a great add-on for business staff meetings. The physical activity of playing golf or just swinging a golf club helps burn off stress that drags at an organization’s productivity. Every business, large or small, needs to take frequent breaks away from the long hours in the office.
Golf fits rather well in the business golf arena if it is understood how golf works in business. The basics of the one-on-one golf outing with a client, employee or vendor is a very powerful business tool if done correctly. The action taken to use golf in business works to help hold up the middle portion of the golf economy and if more businesses would use golf as a business tool it would help keep the golf industry viable and continuing on into the future.
Let me know how I can help.
Scot Duke is President/CEO of Innovative Business Golf Solutions, a multi-faceted company whose mission is to help the golf industry find solutions to the problems keeping it from succeeding. This blog is part of IBGS’s effort to address the issues confronting GOLF in order to sort through the possible solutions. Your comments and input plays a huge part in validating or disavowing what will work or not.