The recently completed PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando always brings talk about the heath and state of the game of golf.
With 41,000 enthusiastic attendees in Orlando January 20-23, 2015 for the annual kickoff of the golf season, it’s hard to believe golf if hurting, but studies say participation is down and Steve Mona, CEO of World Golf Foundation always talks to me and sets the record straight.
“The golf industry is stable and healthy. Although participation in the game does not match its all-time high from 2005 (pre-recession), many industry segments are experiencing much success. Adult and junior growth-of-the-game programs are more unified and have seen significant growth in the past few years. The First Tee has more than 180 chapters and 900 golf locations and is also available in close to 7,000 elementary schools. Get Golf Ready has more than 4,500 certified facilities and reached close to 100,000 participants last year. PGA Junior League Golf has experienced 490 percent growth and had 18,000 participants last year.”
Mona says golf needs to adapt and evolve like other sports have to remain top-of-mind with the sports public.
“Golf today is enjoyed by 25 million Americans who play 465 million rounds annually at the nation’s 15,350 facilities. The industry is adapting to provide shorter golf experiences, with the United States Golf Association now allowing for nine-hole scores towards your handicap. Non-traditional forms of the game like, FootGolf or FlingGolf, are gaining popularity while still upholding the integrity of the game. Contrary to belief, golf is young, cool and fun. The industry is embracing the 6.3 million millennials (ages 18-35), who play more than 100 million rounds of golf annually. They represent 25 percent of the golf population.”
On why golf courses are closing:
“Compression in the U.S. golf industry is positive as supply and demand reach equilibrium. We are working toward an inventory of courses that supports the current level of participation in the game. We became overbuilt from a facility perspective and are recalibrating to respond to current needs. In the last eight years, golf course closures represent 650 of 15,350 total facilities. That’s approximately four percent of all courses.”
Mona gives some sound tips on how we can grow the game of golf.
“Invite a friend to play. Encourage them to participate in Get Golf Ready. Show them the excitement you have been experiencing since you first starting playing. Golf should not be intimidating to new players. It’s fun and offers an opportunity to experience the outdoors, create new friendships and embrace a game that lasts a lifetime.”
Golf Goes to Washington
Once again, thanks to “We Are Golf” golf will be be represented in Washington D.C. on April 15 at Capitol Hill.
Golf leaders will not only meet with members of Congress, members of the Executive brand and various federal agencies, but also share golf stories and attempt to grow the sport of golf.
Golf has a $70 billion impact on our economy and gives $4 billion annually to charities.
“Planning for golf’s much anticipated return to Capitol Hill is in full swing and we look forward to an even more successful event in 2015,” adds Mona, who also serves as administrator of We Are Golf. “The primary goal as an industry is to make sure our voice is heard in Washington, D.C. to ensure laws and regulations that impact the golf industry are fair and appropriate.”
Follow along on National Golf Day by filtering the Twitter #hashtag #NGD15. In 2014, National Golf Day made 16 million impressions and reached 7.4 million accounts on Twitter, including 787,000 users in just a one-hour span.