I recently sat down to chat with Mark Neace, known locally as the Caddie Daddy and the owner of Caddie Club Golf in Dallas. The subject of our discussion was about the future of Golf which lead quickly into what Golf needs to do to encourage more people to play Golf. Here is the interview.
What’s Wrong with Golf
MBG: Let’s start with the big question..Over the past three years the number of people of playing golf has been a revolving door. The same amount who start are leaving the game for a number of reasons.
What do you see is the number one issue Golf has that is running off Golfers and keeping more people from learning to play golf?
MN: The main issue Golf has that needs to be dealt with soon is the perception of golf not being a pleasant experience. People who have been playing golf for a long time are frustrated with slower play, worn out golf courses and high costs. New golfers are frustrated with the learning curve taking so long. And non-golfers are hearing about the frustration old school golfers and the new golfers are having with golf which turns them off to considering playing golf. Whereas, if more people had more of a pleasant experience while playing golf..or learning to play golf..the non-golfers might find golf more interesting.
So, until Golf takes control of some of the issues inherent to the perception of golf it will have extreme difficulty in growing past where it is today.
How Business Can Support Golf
MBG: Since over 60% of the people who play golf today are decision makers in business what do business people who golf need to understand about Golf that would help them improve their golf and their business? And, do you see business golf as something that would help golf grow?
MN: First of all, a round of Golf should be social first..business second. Having caddied for a number of years I have seen a large number of people attempting to use golf as a five hour sales pitch which simply doesn’t work. What usually takes place is both the business person and the person receiving their sales pitch become disenchanted with golf. What business people need to understand is golf was one of the first forms of social networking. Actually, playing golf with a potential client should be done like social networking is correctly done today. A business person needs to gain the client’s trust first before any business will be conducted. Playing Golf with someone is an excellent way to develop trust. The down side is, playing golf with a prospect or client can also show a person’s liabilities. But overall, played correctly a lot of trust can be developed during a round of golf that can progress into a long lasting business relationship..so, yes, more people using business golf as a business tool could help golf grow.
Golf Facilities Makeover
MBG: Given the fact many golf courses were forced to neglect their course’s maintenance and reduce staff to keep things going during the downturn in the economy, and are now raising prices to cover the costs of renovation, do you feel the way golf courses..private and public golf clubs…currently are managed is helping Golf or hurting it’s growth?
MN: Fortunately, there were a good number of golf courses who understand that the golf course is the product they sell and found ways to maintain good playing conditions throughout the downturn. It is very unfortunate some courses were less creative and failed to make the right operational decisions so the golf course could hold it’s quality. Yes..poorly managed golf clubs..public and private..are hurting the perception of golf and hindering golfers’ experience. But there are some great examples of clubs that are being creative in the way they deliver course quality and service, and finding ways to appeal to younger generations and a different type of player while still running on leaner budgets.
Where The Change Begins
MBG: Obviously, the way the Golf Industry does business needs to adapt in order to be appealing to more people. Where do you see the change to improve Golf’s appeal to non-golfers needs to begin?
MN: The younger generation is where it begins. Making golf affordable has been and still is an issue for most people who would enjoy playing golf. A lot has been done by a lot of people inside the golf industry to help more kids gain access to the game, but this still does not seem to be helping Golf gain ground on getting more people to play golf than those who are leaving golf.
As I have said before..the experience a person has while playing golf will determine if they will continue to play or not. A bad experience naturally will cause a person to become discouraged…and depending on how bad the experience is, could result in them leaving the game for good. However, a memorable experience while playing golf will bring them back, develop a higher level of tolerance to the inherent frustrations natural to golf, and even convert them to a lifelong ambassador of the game..
Simply put..show a golfer a good time before, on the golf course, and after their round, and they will tell everyone they see how great golf is…give a golfer a bad experience they will hunt down people to tell them how much golf is a waste of time and effort, or worse.
MBG: Obviously your efforts to build the premier caddie services company has rekindled the interest in golfers using a caddie when they play. How does Caddie Club improve the Golf experience?
MN: My effort with Caddie Club is all about enhancing the golf experience for the everyday player, whether they are supporting a charity tournament or treating clients to day on the course. We honor the traditions of the game, but we have modernized caddie service to enhance a course’s reputation and improve their service and bottom line. We do that with providing well trained, certified caddies who not only know the game of golf, but also know how to deal with people.
We look for people to hire as caddies who can turn a businessman’s or business woman’s bad day into a great day. Someone who can provide a little more lightheartedness to a foursome’s round of golf. I truly believe that if more golfers had this experience when they played golf, more people who do not play would want to learn to play golf.
That is what I feel the Caddie Club can do to improve the game of Golf.
I want to thank Mark Neace for taking time out of his busy day as a owner of a video production company, KEYimage Media Solutions, and working as owner of the Caddie Club of Dallas, to share his thoughts on Golf.
As I have mentioned a number of times..the more people sit down and discuss an issue the more likely a working solution to issues can be found.
Let me know how I can help.