Golf in 2020
PGA of America and HSBC
bank have independently commissioned studies on the future of golf.
In many parts of the world, Golf is not growing anymore, and many Clubs are struggling and looking for new ways to survive and be attractive.
The future of golf and the need for change
In 2011, the number of active players in Europe declined. In some parts of the world like Asia, Golf is still growing, but the number of new golf course projects is declining, and many projects now focus on cheaper redesign and renovation.
What will the golf market look like in 2020 and how can we through sensible innovation and effort make it improve?
Does golf have its own (de)Tour?
PGA of America: Golf 2.0
PGA of America organizes some 27.000 golf professionals and is a major influencing body in golf. In 2011, they commissioned a study called Golf 2.0 to understand better the future of golf.
Golfers who gave up playing golf
One finding was that around 4 million players per year had quit playing golf the last few years. Today the number of golfers is around 15% lower than a decade ago. One central recommendation in the study is to try to regain these "lapsed golfers".
Some people think that the study is a wish list - as suggested in an article at Golfcourseindustry.com - but it includes several good ideas.
The goal is to grow the number of US golfers from today's 27M to 32M in 2016 and 40M in 2020.
Roots of the situation
The study refers to a weak golf economy but fails, as we see it, to refer to the overall weakening of the American economy. One can view those who have stopped playing golf as a potential resource, but it is quite alarming that so many quits. An influx of new players has sort of put a veil on this high churn rate.
Golf 2.0 really has its roots in the sluggish golf economy of recent years, which has seen overall rounds played and golfers diminish, so much so that the game lost 1 million golfers in 2010 from the year before. The National Golf Association has also shown that participation in the game has declined by 10% since 2005.
Source: PGA Magazine Sept 2011
Core Golf 2.0 Message
There are five core Golf 2.0 marketing messages that will be directed to consumers.
- Golf is a fun family activity
- Golf is affordable
- Golf doesn't have to mean 18 holes
- Women and Golf
- Golf is healthy
Retain and Strengthen the Golfing Core
Tee it forward is an example of such an initiative. Players are encouraged to move up a set of tees to adapt the length of the course to their playing standard.
Role of the Golf industry
Obviously one has to make a choice of what to include in a report, but we think that the role of golf manufacturers, golf architects, and golf investors to name a few, could have merited further analysis. One could argue that they are part of the problem and only reluctantly part of the solution.
The HSBC Report: Golf’s 2020 Vision
The large HSBC bank has for many years been a large sponsor of several international golf events. This year they sponsored a study called Golf’s 2020 Vision: The HSBC Report. Read the whole report here or here.
A global outlook
This is how the report starts: The trends which will shape the future of golf are the same
trends that are shaping the future of the planet: the shift towards Asia, the increasing feminization of the public world,
urbanisation, the spread of digital technology, and resource and sustainability pressures.
A different attitude
The HSBC report has scant mentioning of any crisis in golf, it focuses on opportunities: The game is continuing to grow in
popularity, broadening its international base, building new audiences and recruiting new players, in new markets, but needs to keep modernizing to stay in touch with the
times. For some in the game, this will be a challenge. But the only thing worse than change is irrelevance.
Women and Sport
Two other strong trends discussed are the growing number of young women who play golf and the development of golf as a sport as contrasted to men being willing to spend time away from their families.
The lifestyle of golfers is changing—and golf clubs will have to respond by thinking differently about the facilities they offer to their members and players.
A chapter headed The Innovating Game discusses the shortage of land and time: One challenge for golf, certainly in Asia, is that new
courses, will be farther from the city and harder to reach, adding more travel time to the four-to-five hours it takes to play a full round of golf.
And modern consumers, across the world, are more protective of their time. Even those who have more leisure time than they used to—as is true for many of
the consumers in the emerging middle class in Asian countries—find themselves spreading it more thinly across more activities and more commitments.
Taken together, these suggest that in all markets we will see the emergence of new forms of golf which take less time, and there is already evidence that these
forms are emerging. In this, golf is following a similar pattern to other sports, where short forms have emerged
The report also has an interesting section on technology innovations, the golf video market, sustainability, golf investment in tourism and Golf and television.
Our favorite quote - understandably from a Dropgolf point of view - is from the interview with Gary Player, as quoted above.