Why aren’t people playing golf?

Darren Horrell asked a fantastically simple question this morning on LinkedIn:  “Why Aren’t You Golfing?”

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Other than the obvious ones stated in replies to this question (time, $, weather), how about we consider that the golf industry isn’t giving enough reasons about the WHY people should be playing?  PGA Professionals need to become better “story positioners” at their facilities and utilize all of their resources to inspire their players to get out and play.

The European PGA Tour did a fantastic campaign this year with Rory and others. I watched those on TV and on YouTube and got completly stoked to go play. Why? Because those commercials were fun, engaging and conveyed the image to me of why I play. The commercials inspired me. Way to go, Euro PGA…

It’s a hard game, no doubt.  But, with the right messaging to golfers (think individual markets), PGA Members and golf professionals in general can certainly inspire their players/members with timely, relevant and valuable information about “WHY” they should play.  If the golf professional is able to position the “story” well, players should respond.  It could be the solutions they provide as custom fitting professionals and why hitting a soaring baby draw with a new custom fit driver is so much more enjoyable than hitting the cut slice with the old one, and 40 yards shorter.  Or the awesome short game clinics they conduct with wedges that will help you hit higher, softer full, pitch and chip shots that spin more and end up closer to the hole.  We’ll include a ball fitting in there, too.  It could be the recommendations and testimonials they gather from their members and students in order to persuade the “lapsed” golfer to come out more.

So instead of taking the “easy” route of weather, time and $, the industry needs to focus on the “why” question to get players thinking more about their game.  We in the industry should become better at positioning “stories” to gain more traction and inspire more play.

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6 Comments

  1. Great article. Story telling is something too many professionals don’t understand, but it makes all the difference in the world. Sell people a vision of what golf should be and we’ll be able to build a generation of golfers!

    Zeb

  2. Rick

    As usual, very thought provoking. As an amateur who has golfed for years, I can really tell you it is all about the experience at the course. I have played at courses where I have felt like a total outsider. Never went back. I have played at courses where I felt welcome and was treated very well. Always will and do go back.

    It is all about the experience and that starts with the pro. One of the things I believe is extremely important for pros is leadership. Their employees will follow a guy who walks the walk. The pro is not just a great golfer, but sets the tone for the experience at his course. The better the experience, the more people will want to play golf.

    Just my thoughts.
    Cheers
    Jim

    1. Jim, thank you for your comments and your view from the “consumer” side of the industry. Service levels should always be high and you are very accurate in saying that vision needs to come from the leadership of the club, and ideally the golf professional.

      After all, he/she should be the trusted advisor on all things golf, as well as the leader of “fun”.

  3. Nice article and blog… I’m not playing less but there are definitely less players of my age and ability at our club. I believe Arnold Palmer’s blue collar image inspired a huge insurgence during the 1960’s and ’70’s of brand new golfers and the resulting large number of municipal golf courses, university courses made free to students, pitch and putt growth. Daily fee golf facilities were built to be played with available rental equipment, inexpensive intro lessons, less demanding course design encouraged faster pace of play and more attainable enjoyment for brand new golfers. Driving ranges were made available with instructors that were patient and ready to teach beginners.

    During stronger economic times of the 80’s and 90’s much of this evolved into golf courses construction that is very expensive to maintain, join and play. Golf professionals have gotten very comfortable with entertaining baby boomers and haven’t put enough effort into developing the pipeline of golfers willing to spend time and money on private clubs in the future.

    1. Thanks so much for the well-worded response, and I appreciate your comments. You raise a fine point with your last sentence: “Golf professionals have gotten very comfortable with entertaining baby boomers and haven’t put enough effort into developing the pipeline of golfers willing to spend time and money on private clubs in the future.”

      There are millions of “lapsed” golfers in the US who indicate they would “like to play more” but there are barriers. The industry needs to figure out how to break down those “time, money, work, family guilt, lack of access” issues and create a different way of doing things. I believe that starts with golf pros stating why the do what they do and selling their “results”. As golf professionals, we need to do a better job of telling a great story. Golf is such a beautiful game with so much to gain from playing. I know for me, I’d be in a much different place without golf. Golf saved me long ago….

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