Thursday, June 22, 2017

Out of the Rough - Grow the Game

In the rough: The industry's slim revenue is the result of weakened golf participation.

More than 800 golf courses have closed nationwide in the last decade, as operators grapple with declining interest in the sport and a glut of competition.

Golf facilities provide economic, social, environmental and recreational support to communities - and are both publicly accessible and affordable. The game is innovating in ways we could not foresee, by more effectively managing natural resources, and building programs that are welcoming to juniors, minorities, women and disabled persons.
                    Mike Davis, Executive Director of USGA

The best perceived endeavors are typically the most altruistic. The most important dilemma facing the golf industry is the atrophy of the participation in the game, the clubs that cannot sustain and the condos being built on closed courses. Any effort to remove the elite veneer of the game and hopefully create interest among a larger segment of the population without destroying any of its prodigious equity would have to be considered important.

I have always believed that clubs that reach out to the community as opposed to being determined to “isolate from” could only improve the perception of the club and better the community. Obviously any effort to, or conversation to reach out and make the game more accessible has to start with creating passion among the young and the mothers and wives of the hardcore millions. The PGA, LPGA, USGA and First Tee all have admirable programs to push this endeavor. All clubs have junior programs that are well run and inspiring. Perhaps a charismatic “play it forward” technique could be easy and effective if embraced by the approximately 15,500 courses owners and operators and the 25 million plus avid golfers dedicated to improving the state of the industry.

As Golf Digest points out in "Is this golf's $35 billion opportunity?"

Conversations about growing the game are more common in golf circles than ever. As newly elected PGA of America president Paul levy put it recently, golf's ruling bodies have never been more unified around a single cause. To perpetuate this discussion, a study reported by the Irish Golf Desk this week raises interesting questions about how increasing female participation in golf could potentially energize the game. The report , titled "The Global Economic Value of Increased Female participation in Golf" and commissioned by Syngenta, a Swiss biotechnology company that deals primarily in agriculture business, concludes golf's global economy could be boosted by $35 billion if it converted more interested women into the game. So that further punctuates how vital it could be to bring the game to more interested women in the years. The next step, of course, is developing new ideas to energize growth amongst women. Executives in golf will welcome your ideas.

                                                           Golf Digest

I have known Kelsey MacLean since shortly after she identified a niche in golf retail for infants and kids apparel that is quality fabrication and can be customized. She is not a player but realizes the cultural as well as the business importance of the game. This is how The Huffington Post describes Kelsey and Fore Kids Golf:

Kelsey is an outspoken advocate for the importance of growing the game of golf from birth. he is a lifestyle expert and is eager to show everyone that the stuffy old world of country clubs and resorts is finally giving way to an exciting new lifestyle for the modern woman and family.

Her clothing line has earned Preferred Vendor status for The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, is an Official Licensee of the Tournament Players Club (TPC) Network and has been featured in such media as Vogue Magazine. People Style Watch, The Huffington Post, etc.

Kelsey's idea - to film on location at golf facilities looking to reach out to their communities and ultimately show that golf clubs, country clubs and resorts are a one stop shop for everyone in the family and is multi-generational has created a great deal of traction with everyone who has seen it.

When Kelsey sent me this video the idea immediately went to how do you market this as a "play it forward" piece that clubs could send to members, play in the shops and incorporate into membership efforts. The idea would be to feature clubs, resorts, sponsor vendors and interviews with leaders in the industry in similar videos that explore all the important social and cultural aspects of a life that includes golf. Here is the video:

It is obviously important to inspire avid golfers to become ambassadors. 
Reaching out to the non players ande converting them to the game as well as having golf facilities become more involved in their communities takes special tools that can create a social, ground-swell, viral, cultural impact. The plan with videos like the one Kelsey has done a great job putting together can quickly create traction and change the industry if embraced and "played forward". Everyone reading this should send it to their email list, golf pro, club members, anyone interested in the game with an "ask' that their readers do the same, not to promote Fieldstone GC, but to see if  a GrowGolf.Com project based on focused videos that could be disseminated through the industry and all the people it touches could attract advocates, promoters and sponsors.

  • If you are a golf vendor and want to get the message out as to how you are helping grow the game. 
  • If you own a facility and would like a video to send to your members, prospective members or customer base. 
  • If you are involved with an organization that is involved with game and realizes the importance of that participation's (cultural and marketing) perception and impact we are asking that you call us and let's discuss some ideas.
Both Kelsey and I can be reached at 484-732-8824 and 443-309-3005 respectively and look forward to hearing from you.

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