Golf’s Evolution and Education

Golf certainly isn’t dead. I only just started playing and as far as I am concerned there are those that golf and those that haven’t yet played.

I am new to golf as I only started playing in July 2014. I love it, I am completely addicted and my life now revolves around golf however I am not ashamed to admit that my knowledge may be lacking in numerous areas. I haven’t been involved (or cared) about golf long enough to know where it currently sits in the good old bell curve but I do believe that golf needs to look forward and not continually to “how it has always been done”. Social media will play an important role in the success of golf or more so individual clubs and I am starting to see that now as I travel.

As I travel I ask all clubs what they do for junior golf and what programs they have in place for ladies to learn the sport. The responses are vast and varied and I also share ideas and strategies I have learnt on my travels that may improve or encourage locals to come to their club.

Traditional golf memberships are dying off (literally) and social or society golf is becoming the norm. That said there are a lot of clubs changing the way they administer membership and the offerings available to make golf attractive and affordable to younger generations. Some are having success in new membership drives however this is only the forward thinkers as a lot of clubs have their hands tied by the board. Boards that seem to be running clubs purely for themselves and a few friends without thinking about, nor planning for the future.

Implementing social media strategies allows you to engage directly with your target market through new mediums however so many clubs are still hesitant to utilize social media. Some because they don’t believe they need to, and others because they don’t know how.

As I wrote in a blog recently “I love golf and while new to it, I love the traditions the history and the stories however I also want to ensure there are many quality courses for me to play in thirty years time and for this to occur golf needs to reinvent itself a little, dust off some stuffiness and move into the 21st century.”

Relaxing some rules would help e.g. don’t change your shoes in the carpark and replacing signage around the course from “Don’t” “Warning” “Stop” to “Welcome” “Please” “Kindly” could be a great start to making the place more attractive and welcoming to new members.

Recently, I was at a club in the UK where an older member had yelled at a new member for changing her shoes in the car park. Publicly admonishing a new member for something she was not aware of, is not welcoming or encouraging and actually it is turning them (and the friends they tell of the experience) off your club completely.

I have golfed at 81 courses in 9 countries and there are many things that differ but so many things that are the same. I am aware courses can be hindered by a backward thinking board, denial, small mindedness but some places are completely off the mark.

In Scotland there is a gorgeous waterfront course with dining room views over the ocean and craggy cliffs and yet the clubhouse sits locked away from any members of the public. I understand that the laws that govern the clubs do not allow non members in (something to do with insurance and licensing) however working towards changing this would allow clubs to use all their assets to generate income.

Many times ramblers looking for a coffee or folk from out of town had arrived to be turned away because the club is “Members only” and yet the members are not eating, enjoying the view nor generating additional income for the place.

Why wouldn’t you utilize all your assets to generate income? It seems a silly business decision however I hear “that’s not the way we have done things before” and I understand the frustration and the blockages that General Managers are facing at some facilities.

I just worry that some of these clubs will have no alternative but to close if they do not change their current practices.

Social media is a powerful tool that some clubs are not yet incorporating into their everyday business. This is slowly changing as clubs realize it is necessary to use social media and new technologies to reach a greater audience.

I recently read an article (in a newspaper) about devaluation of golf via the use of group discount sites and the reduction of green fees. I agree insofar as you can provide and advertise special deals directly to your target market without the need to discount your rates 50% and then pay a similar percentage of the sales made to the discount site.

This doesn’t make sense to me. You would be better off spending some money boosting FB posts and getting all your members to share it with all the golfers they know.

Grassroots guerilla marketing – it works.

Junior golf is struggling in some parts of the world as it is competing with so many other sports and some kids just like being inside. There are some great participation programs in place for juniors globally and some new initiatives emerging and I want to ensure that everyone who wants to golf has the opportunity do so.

I think parent’s education also plays a part in improving and increasing junior golf participation as understanding that introducing your child to the game early will make for a more well rounded adult. Surely every parent would want their child learning honesty, respect, patience and integrity as they absorb the etiquette of the game.

I am passionate about golf and ensuring junior golfers who want to play are not hindered by anything, particularly money so I am now working towards exactly that.

Golf is not dead, it is readjusting itself to find a fit with a new generation of golfer. I am sure this has happened continually since the game was invented hundreds of years ago and I am going to work towards the continual evolution to ensure golf nuts like me have quality courses to play decades into the future.

Read more about this topic from other #GolfChat authors here.

4 responses to “Golf’s Evolution and Education

  1. Hey Tiff,

    Great post with a lot of great points. I think you’re right, golf is certainly not dead (try get a weekend tee time here in Calgary on short notice – good luck!), but is more likely in an awkward transition phase as it finds a balance between modernizing itself while still maintaining the traditions that are important to the integrity of the game. Changes, even small ones, can take generations.

    Cheers
    Josh

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said Tiffany…the golfing youth of today will ultimately shape the future of the game as they take up more responsible roles at their respective Clubs. It’s so important to maintain the mutual respect, friendly spirit, humility and etiquette that has traditionalised the game for generations. At the same time as introducing kids to the game we must encourage them to adopt the lifelong social benefits the game can offer them if they continue to play at any level throughout their formative years. It’s great to see the http://www.scottishgolf.org doing so much online marketing and providing education to reach potential new Golf Club members.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Danny,

      Thanks for commenting. I agree completely with what you have said.

      There are great things happening in lots of countries to grow the game and I am now working on exactly that, with the NFP I have started.

      Cheers, Tiffany

      Like

  3. Thanks for your feedback Josh.

    Being new to golf I can only comment on what I see and things I think need to change to make it more inclusive to encourage more people to play, however I completely understand about the time it takes for changes to be implemented.

    Cheers,
    Tiff

    Like

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