FUN - GOLF NEEDS MORE OF IT
A fun experience makes people coming back for more. But also perceived fun for non-golfers is important to make them interested in the game. Facilities will have to focus on delivering a fun experience instead of only on golf. For this it is important to understand what different generations are looking for in a fun experience.
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Why is golf perceived as a game that lacks the fun factor amongst non golfers? Why have the words, boring, slow and expensive become notoriously linked to the game? We reached a crossroads, do we keep the game as it is or change?
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So how do we put all this theory into practice? Below we have suggested a number of tools and models to engage your customers and creative an environment of loyalty & tribe.
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So what can we do with all this research? What examples can I learn from and what can I do to make golf a more fun, attractive and enjoyable experience at my facility?

Why?

Why is golf perceived as a game that lacks the fun factor amongst non golfers? Why have the words, boring, slow and expensive become notoriously linked to the game?

The BIG debate

Do we keep golf as it is or adjust for the new generations Golf purists like to keep golf the way it is. And there is a lot to say for this. The “real” of golf will survive. But what if the new generations do not connect to golf in any way? Just let golf participation shrink?

And what is real golf? Fishermen in Scotland playing golf for fun and socialising with lots of beers afterwards? Or the traditional rule-driven homogenous group playing under qualifying conditions? Or top-golfers playing for course records with 300 meter drives? Or weekly golfers that play mainly to be outdoors with their friends in nature, where the score is nice but not key

Maybe there is room for more kinds of golf? One thing is clear: it needs to be fun, otherwise people will quit playing.

“We all need healthy growth, commercial and non-profit clubs alike and to do that we need to intensify the lobby action that is already going on. We need to work together to provide more nine, six and even three-hole facilities where time restrictions are not a barrier to playing golf. We also need to change the rules and regulations – not dramatically, just a little – while taking care not to betray the spirit and traditions of this wonderful sport.”

Alexander Baron von Spoercken EGCOA President
Times are changing but is golf?
Generations X and especially generation Y was brought up in a relatively worry free world where fun became their main driver. This sparked the success of the experience economy which is stretching out into the 3rd decade of this century.

Inspired by tech driven computer games, mass- and social media, the speed of life has increased and the need for adventure too. These developments requires golf to spice up the game, loose some of the entry hurdles and to focus on the many existing and possibly new fun factors that golf can offer.

“The game of golf has many timeless virtues including endless variety in an outdoor setting, great sociability, and health and wellness benefits for all ages. The challenge for all of us is to preserve these qualities while also insuring that we are offering a golf experience in many forms that is appealing to the modern consumer. That means we need to make sure golf is perceived as inclusive, relevant, and available to everyone with a desire to play. Vision 2020 provides a unique and important opportunity to explore the best strategies for accomplishing this task.”

Mike Hughes CEO, NGCOA - USA
The BIG Opportunity & Challenge
The graph shows the development of the total number of golfers per age category in 5 European countries. It shows the same trend in all countries: below 50 actual numbers are going down, over 60 number grow.

So only the baby boomers and older generations show growth in numbers. All the younger generations show a decline in participation. Short term focus for the golf industry is on the baby boomers. Long term fix is on the other generations.

generations

“The golf industry needs to create a new golf experience that can be delivered in 30, 45, 60 or 90 minute intervals. It can be instruction, practice or playing. Public courses need to devise a way to offer this to the consumer that doesn't have time to spend 2-4 hours playing a round of golf. Listen to the customer and give them what they want- NOT what course operators want!” (Bishop, 2014)

Ted Bishop President, PGA of America

The Trend

This trend resulted as one of the top trends out of EGCOA questionnaire and development sessions.

Experience & Customisation

3d
From an economic point of view, we appear to be moving from a service based economy to an experience based economy in which the added value consists out of new and exciting experiences that are highly customised.

This type of economic offering offers tremendous opportunity for service organisations but requires a highly customer focused team base, as well as a process that is focused on providing experiences rather than services.

Underpinning

What is the current perception of golf? Below we have outlined a range of perspectives provided by the World Golf Foundation.

World Golf Foundation

57% of the people have a negative perception of the game.

Boring is the word that is used most to describe the game. Boring is the opposite of fun. Golf needs more (perceived) fun.

Angry Golfer

Perception of the game:

  • 57% negative
  • 25% neutral
  • 18% positive

Negative words used to describe the game:

  • Boring – 59%
  • Slow – 34%
  • Difficult/Frustrating – 22%
  • Expensive – 14%

“It is very boring both to watch and to play it takes up the whole day and I’m just not interested in it at all”

Negative

.

“Extremely boring, expensive, and a waste of time.”

Negative

“A drawn out game that tends to be selective in recruiting fans and players.”

Negative

“Addictive , easy to get into. Relaxing, good form of exercise. Way to be outdoors. Can play anywhere.”

Positive

.

“Neat game, love the green grass and how its groomed, the fresh air, the playing.”

Positive

“Good sport to get a little exercise, spend time with friends, combines exercise with relaxation.”

Positive

''We need to do a much better job of conveying the message that the FUN of golf goes beyond the hitting of a golf ball, which is almost exclusively the exposure that the non-golfer has to the game.”

Steve Mona CEO, World Golf Foundation

So why do we have to change?

People that have a neutral or positive perception of the game are 3 to 4 times more likely to be interested in taking it up than people with a negative perception.

Research

So how does fun really work? What makes one activity fun for one person and not for another, the answer lies in the science of dopamine.

So how does fun work?

Fun = enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure

(oxforddictionaries.com, 2014)

How do we feel fun?  & What is fun?

The answer is dopamine: “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.” (Psychology Today, 2014)

How?

So how do we make golf more fun, attractive and enjoyable for new and existing golfers?

We need to understand the generations

In order to successfully market golf as a fun and enjoyable game to both the existing and emerging generations we need to first understand their unique and every changing characteristics.

bboomer

Baby boomers (1946-1964)

  • Technology
  • TV, Audio Cassette
  • Learning style, environment and ideal leader
  • Relax and structured, in classroom style, thinkers
  • Feedback
  • No news is good news
  • Work ethic
    Loyal but also cynical (been there, done that), Salary, working a lot of hours, a title stands for success
bboom

Generation X (1965-1979)

  • Technology
  • Video recorder, Walkman, IBM PC
  • Learning style, environment and ideal leader
  • Spontaneous and interactive, round table, doers
  • Feedback
  • Once a year with a lot of documentation
  • Work ethic
    Ambitious, distrust authority, enterprising, sparingly
geny

Generation Y (1980-1994)

  • Technology
  • Internet, E-mail, Mobile Phone, SMS, DVD
  • Learning style, environment and ideal leader
  • Visual and experiencing, informal groups, empowerment
  • Feedback
  • Sorry for asking, but how am I doing
  • Work ethic
    Meaningful work, bound to mentor not to organisations.
genzweb

Generation Z (1995-2010)

  • Technology
  • Wireless internet, social media, tablets
  • Personal and feeling oriented, multimodal, inspiring co-creators
  • Relax and structured, in classroom style, thinkers
  • Feedback
  • Didn’t get feedback for 5 minutes, what’s wrong with you?
  • Work ethic
    Confident, ambitious without goals, not ‘owning but ‘being able’. Lifelong depth.

Other sports - how do they do it?

Below we have selected a number of forward thinking best practices and initiatives across the sports industry to highlight how golf can adapt to the generation gap.

What?

What examples can I learn from and what can I do to make golf a more fun, attractive and enjoyable experience at my facility?

Fun golf industry initiatives

How are golf facilities and organisations across the globe making golf appealing changing the face of the game across generational borders?

Share your best practices and initiatives with us, click here to submit.

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    Technology Tools

    With technology playing a major role in the development of the golf industry we have selected a number of new online platforms and applications available in the golf industry that can be used as both tools to manage and build social interaction and communities at golf facilities.

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      Video Resources

      Additional Reading

      Share your articles with us, click here to submit.

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