Who said there isn’t any excitement on the PGA Tour!!? (oh right – i was just saying that the other day )
Despite lagging sales and attendance and Tiger stuff and all that kinda stuff – I for one am glad I’m still following this sport today at least.
What a shot by Ricky Fowler to get on the green on the par 4 16th. What the……??!!!
The last few holes at Valhalla Golf Club are worth the wait.
Gotta admit – the guy’z got swag.
That said – the PGA has a long way to go trying to turn around this slump in the sport. I can’t help thinking about that after reading some other blogs today.
The reasons are many – macro-economic, financial, plain-ole-logistics (you just can’t walk to the neighborhood park and start playing 9 or 18 holes like you can with bball or tennis – in fact you can’t even learn how to strike the ball and enjoy the sport without at least a few lessons – again unlike basketball or soccer, and did i mention few people have an old set of clubs just lying around in the garage), and…. lastly and suggested with nothing but good intention….
a cultural heritage that necessarily – dare I say – was originally somewhat exclusive and Great Gatsby-esque ya’ know? I mean, it doesn’t seem that it was a sport originally intended for mass or even mainstream consumption or perhaps layman consumption if you start reading into the whole St. Andrews 1800s practice of the sport.
I don’t know – i think there’s an element of that that still makes people think – this sport just isn’t for me. And beyond that – I can think of a ton of confident people who rock the house speaking in front of crowds, running business meetings, managing million dollar budgets or doing a bunch of things I find scary – but ask them to play golf with a group of friends and they freeze out of fear of embarrassment and just whiffing the ball entirely. I still have that fright on occasion. And that’s why most male golfers just play to have a few beers and relax versus taking the sport seriously continuously like a soccer fan or bicyclists or swimmer or even tennis player – those tennis players are out there every weekend – no matter the age, race, culture, sex – whatever – right?
On many levels but especially the money, culture, exclusivity side of things – and i don’t mean that to stir up debate or to get all Downton Abbey on anyone – but let’s face it, not even just a generation ago this sport required huge annual dues to a country club to participate at the local level.
Joining a club is totally easy today but, again, the need to join a club period can be an intimidating and often gate-keeping type of thing for anyone who is looking for a fun free thing to do to keep their kids healthy or to engage in a sport. It’s a problem I don’t think equipment manufacturers will solve nor will the clubs or even the veteran industry professionals.
Much like today’s IT world embracing the cloud and thinking differently about innovation – the PGA needs intrapreneurs to point the way to bringing new fans back into the fold. Despite the good intent of new programs like Get Golf Ready or the new Team Golf program, you can see that the majority of the messaging – look at 80% of the product commercials…. focuses on a select cohort …. product include investment banking, high-priced electronics, luxury vacations, powerful german engineered cars,lear jets, Rolex watches, and this short guy walking around serving real dogs when you ask for a hot dog like he belongs in a Hobbit movie (I mean what millennial or digital mom or corporate middle-aged soccer dad is sayin’ – yah – that’s me?!!).
It’s all so multi-6 figure income kinda stuff that even multi-6 figure income families are having a hard time doing the math.
So, it’s hard to compete as a crowd pleaser when the guy down the street just wants you to bring your wooden bat and some passion to a neighborhood park or an old racket you found in the garage and some dirty sneakers.
Add the economic tsunami of 2008 is not that far away and you’ve got a multi-trifecta.
For sure, golf is a lag economy sport in that when times are great it will pick up eventually but when purses are tight – people will rationalize their way away from the course in no time and the comebacks will always be slow simply because of the above mentioned economic and personal barriers to success.
Getting proficient at the sport to the point where you can really have fun – something that is still alluding me because I’m trying to squeeze it in on my spare time as a full-time working dad living the Silicon Valley life which is blissful weather wise but busy in ways my dad could never have imagined. I dream email – need I say more.
But – let me say this. Foot-golf and team golf – the latest program introduced by the PGA – are not the answer. It’s like pouring pepsi into single malt scotch to make it more accessible.
I agree with many that, in order to keep the spirit of the sport – and I by no means as a total amateur pretend to have any clue what that is – we should leave well enough alone.
in my heart i believe the sport is truly more than just a sport. it is a life tool. it is a guide. it can be therapy. it’s a health regimen. it’s camaraderie. and it’s all those other things that you discover when you are trying to understand life’s graces and stages and ups and downs – things like confidence, trust, humility, courage, toughness, persistence, acceptance, compassion, being a gentleman, courtesy, honesty – stuff like that. i think all sports aspire to these platitudes but golf is uniquely singular in its pursuit.
i feel strongly about that even in my novice-ness. I feel like – they should leave well enough alone or find other creative ways to engage former fans and newer converts.
And, I’m guessing – just to return to some of the new macro-economic forces changes our planet and the sport – a lot of those efforts will need to point to developing economies and especially Asia. So like it or not – this game is going to change a lot in the next two decades. Faces, locations, fans, norms, the whole magilla.
But the sweetness of a good swing on a quiet morning or a slow roll on the putting green in the kiss of a sunset. Well – hey – she had me at ‘Ping!’