“Golf is the only game that pits the player against an opponent, the weather, the minutest details of a large chunk of local topography and his own nervous system, all at the same time.” – Mike Seabrook
By Ian Hardie
I talked about the fact that not much has changed when it comes to the remarkably high number of players
Who give up the game of golf within their first two years of starting to play
A problem that no one’s ever worried about too much as there have always been more people coming along to keep the golf courses going thanks to the constant stream of baby boomers taking up the game of golf
So to a certain extent ‘ignoring’ the high drop-off rate of new golfers was probably a good solution – as if all the people that started golf around the world over the past 50 year had stayed on as golfers
Most golf courses wouldn’t have had the capacity to fit them on anyway
The trouble is though, the world we all live in has changed a lot in the past few years
In fact it’s changed so much that the game of golf – which has been going pretty well for around 600 years
Is now under attack from declining participation, rising costs and changing attitudes
Let’s consider what the ‘ideal golfer’ would have looked like – in the eyes of a ‘golf club’ over the past 50 years:
The golf club would have expected that all new golfers coming along would join as full members or at the least limited members of the golf club paying their subscriptions as fast as possible
The golf club would then expect new golfers to turn up and play every weekend with the other members – participating fully in whatever competitions and social events there were going on
As well as spending a large amount of their money on food and drink at the conclusion of each of their games – to ‘support the club’
The new golfers would be ‘trained’ to be happy to wait around at the start to be made up into a ‘four’ before playing and any guests they bought along to the golf club would have the same things expected of them
The golf club would encourage new golfers to buy all their golf equipment from the on course golf pro or shop – also to ‘support the club’ and strongly suggest that they have multiple golf lessons
So that they could quickly become competent (as well as fast) players on the golf course
What a wonderful world it would be if golf was still like that!
The reality of the future is going to be a much trickier one for the golf industry to deal with and if it hasn’t already arrived at your local golf course – it’s probably on its way soon
For a start, the number of players that will be full members of a golf club or play every weekend if they are – is going to drop dramatically
In fact, most surviving golf clubs will probably end up becoming semi-public at best
Which is going to make it very difficult for the golf clubs to figure out where their money is coming from to keep the golf course going each month – with the players only turning up to play golf some of the time
The traditional eighteen hole round is looking like being under threat as well as the future’s time poor player is probably going to struggle to fit in a nine hole game – which also means
That when they do turn up – they are going to want to go straight out to play
The future’s player probably isn’t going to be too interested in joining in with the club competitions or its social events either because unlike the golfers for the past 50 years who have played golf as a way of socially connecting – the next wave of player’s are all so connected already with the various forms of social networks around
That they don’t need or want the social contact opportunities that golf can offer
They are also extremely mobile due to this social connection which makes them unlikely to spend much time afterward buying food or drink at the golf club – another traditional part of a golf clubs income
That is also facing a bleak future!
When the future’s player turns up to the golf course – they will get out their shiny new branded golf clubs – purchased online either direct from the manufacturer or from one of the many equipment websites that inhabit the internet
Some of them will still have the plastic wrappers or protective stickers on them – such will be the lack of interest that the future’s player will have in them
They may buy a packet of golf tees from the on course shop though
So all is not lost – unless they have a 3D printer at home with which they can make their own – in which case, I’m not sure what the on course retail golf pro is going to live on soon
Now you may be wondering – why this would impact you at all?
Imagine you turn up for your game of golf and you get to play behind these players!
That aren’t able to play very well because instead of having traditional golf lessons or going through ‘a learn to golf’ series – the future’s player will play by getting to their golf ball:
Hitting a button to gauge the distance for the shot, which they will then feed into Google on their electronic device with the question:
What do I do when I’m 150 yards from the green?
And a selection of videos on ‘how to hit a 7 iron’ will pop up for them
I just put that into Google while writing this and got a mere – wait for it……………….
7,610,000 video results for that search – isn’t that astonishing!
After watching the video on how to do it – they will have a go at hitting the golf ball and I expect will repeat this process at 20 – 30 yard intervals all the way to the green
This will happen in stark contradiction to the time tested method of knowing that from 150 yards it’s a #7 iron to the green – which most golfers will have all gained by having previously tried or practiced the shot and as a result they ‘know how to play it’
But that will sound like too much effort for the future’s player!
They future’s player also probably won’t know or understand etiquette at all and will be completely oblivious to the fact – that the golf cart shouldn’t be driven through the sand trap, that the little crater their golf ball left on the green when it landed isn’t ‘an extra challenge’ or that every shot they hit doesn’t need to have a video of the swing posted online
Most concerning, they won’t care that they are taking 3 ½ hours to play the front nine and because the golf club really needs their money to keep itself afloat
No one is going to say anything about it for fear of losing their business
It doesn’t sound too promising does it?
In fact – it’ll be quicker playing behind the elephant in the image at the top of this article!
The big question of course is how long the existing members or regular players at a golf course will keep playing golf – if those are the sorts of player
They are going to be sharing it with or playing behind every time they play golf?
Which I’m going to look at further in ‘Why a lot of new players give up the game of golf within their first two years – part four’
One last thing, if you happen to be wondering if I’m doing anything about this problem – the answer is yes – it’s exactly the reason I developed the Discover golf program
You can check it out here if you haven’t already or if it doesn’t apply to you please share it with someone you know who is a new player that could really do with participating
An even better thing to do would be to let your golf club or course know of the programs existence so they can offer it to all new players or members in the future – unless of course you happen to be looking forward to the day when you get to……………….
Take 3 ½ hours to play nine holes behind ‘the future golfer’