Tue May 8 2012Golf 2.0 and Beyond
Written By Grant Garrison
An independent market study was recently completed in the US and the new Golf 2.0 program has been created as a result. The new initiative to grow the game was launched at the 2012 golf trade show in Orlando where industry leaders witnessed Jack Nicklaus unveiling something “out of the square” that he plans will make the game more relevant in our fast paced world.
Since 2006, the US is reporting they have lost 23% of women and 36% of children who used to play the game. Jack Nicklaus himself reports that his own kids and grand kids don’t even play the game anymore. The game offers so much but finds itself in a crisis state. Turning the game around will take some big ideas and an golf community that responds favorably.
It turns out that the game of golf it much more than a game. In America alone, the game contributes 3.5 billion dollars to charities annually; this is more than any other sport. Allowing the game to slip away is simply not an option as too many worthy charities rely on the game to raise funds both nationally, and world wide. The new initiative has brought all the governing bodies together to finally work in a congruent charge to finally tackle the games growth issues once and for all.
The study uncovered many hidden truths about the industry and why avid golfers have chosen to reduce or stop playing the game. The study reflects the same lack luster trends we are facing here in Australian with gloomy figures being reported by our national and state bodies. The clubs are reporting fewer members, less rounds, and less interest from today’s youth.
The Challenges we face
The study revealed 3 challenges facing the game today; they are Time, Expense, and Difficulty. The new initiative will explore non traditional ideas that make the game faster, cost less, and make it easier to play. The initiative will challenge the rich traditions of the game in order to make it more relative in today’s world. Ideas include larger holes, shorter courses, and courses being built within city parks.
The initiative includes a new golf development certification for PGA members to help become effective at growing the game at the local course level. This education is becoming increasingly important to owners and managers who are seeking a vibrant and growing membership. It’s the PGA Member who stands on the front line and expected to take a leadership role in growing the game.
The study pointed out that non golfers feel ‘locked out’ from playing the game, reporting a feeling of exclusivity, that one must be invited into the game. When asked about the cost of becoming a golfer, the average person estimated that the cost of playing is around $65.00, a lesson about $150.00, and equipment over $1,000. The new initiative will attempt to change the public’s perception of the game by marketing the following message:
- Golf is affordable, accessible, and ageless.
- Golf is about friends, family, and fun.
- Golf is healthy, green, and charitable.
- Golf is an antidote for our busy lives.
The survey says:
One of the surprises in the study uncovered that children represented the most important yet hard to reach consumer group. The amount of time a child looks at a screen everyday is staggering, instant stimulation and gratification makes golf seem slow and boring. The study revealed 4 negative perceptions from our current youth regarding the game of golf which are: too many rules, strict dress code, must be quiet, and it’s complicated to learn. However, the survey also uncovered another interesting truth – parents represent a consumer group which is easy to reach. That’s right, attract parents to the game and the kids will follow, children will experience the game because mom & dad like the idea of being a golfing family, they see the benefits in spending quality time together with their children for life!
The study unveiled another interesting truth about the world we live in today; the golf industry has completely missed the most important target group. It turns out that mum has an increasing influence over all family activities and the family budget, its mothers that control 80% of the activities and fees paid for family fun, including her husbands. When dad says he doesn’t have time to play golf anymore, he is really saying that it’s not a priority for his family. Because the perception of the game is that it’s expensive, it’s often the first activity to be eliminated in difficult economic times. Grow the game initiatives in the past have never targeted the mums of the world, make mum a raving fan with the right service at the right price and the whole family magically finds time to come to the golf course.
The implications of attracting females to the game could jump start the game. Recent surveys show females feel a responsibility to help friends and family make wise purchase decisions, and nearly half said they influence friends and family to buy – or not buy - product or service. When a similar study was conducted in 2008, only 31% of women said they felt they regularly influenced other people’s purchase decisions.
Here is the good news, 85% of households have a connection to the game of golf through playing miniature golf, video games, or watching golf on TV. They like the game and think it’s a great. In fact 5 million non golfers in the US simply hit balls on the range because its fun. Now here is an amazing statistic that belongs to the game of golf alone, 35% of the population says they would like to play more golf, that’s 60 million people!
The challenge now is to change our attitude within the industry towards women, children, and beginner golfers; it’s time to make our golf facilities more welcoming. When a female walks in the golf shop, she should never be made to feel like an outsider in a male dominated sport. She represents an important piece of the puzzle regarding the future of the game. We do this by offering affordable lessons and membership programs that fit easily into the family budget; we share our passion for the game and invite everyone into our world. When families are attracted to the game, golf will turn over a new leaf and the game will thrive again.
Grant Garrison began his career as a PGA Golf Professional in 1984 and won a dozen professional events throughout the following 6 years. He left his playing days behind to became a Golf Club Director and managed 2 exclusive country clubs in Southern California from 1990-2000. During this period, Grant was elected as a board member of the Professional Golf Association of America and managed several "Grow the game" projects.
In 2000, Grant accepted a position with Nike Inc. and created over 100 Nike Golf Learning Centers throughout the United States. His responsibility was to create and implement new programs and provide on-going training to over 400 golf teachers. This program became the largest and most effective player development program in America.
In 2006, He started his own business in Los Angeles, California. The company specialized in high tech golf instruction using the latest bio-feedback learning systems. The company also provided custom equipment and repair. The company was sold in 2009.
In 2010, Grant became the National Golf Team Coach in the countries of Bhutan and Nepal and is the designer of the highest golf course in the world located between Bhutan and Tibet. He now resides permanently in Australia.
Click here to email Grant.
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