Is the success of Top Golf a sign of where golf clubs need to be going in the next 5 years?

912_topgolf0208

A friend and I have regular conversations about the need for the golf industry to shake itself up a little. The average club golfer, it would be fair to say, is keen on maintaining tradition; collared shirt, no hats in the clubhouse etc. It’s my honest opinion that golf is too old-fashioned. Where other sports have moved forward with the times and altered their image, golf has stood still.

Till now!! Or at least the next 5-10 years

Golf is changing, at least a little! The introduction of top golf has opened many eyes as to what segments of the market are looking for. Top Golf are a collection of driving ranges where there is more emphasis placed on having fun and socializing, than there is golfing ability. Golfers go in groups, have food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere whilst playing a fun colour coded competition. I love this and so do 8 million customers in the last year!

top golf

Now I’m not suggesting for a second you will visit your golf club anytime soon and the holes will have been replaced by top golf holes or that the game will ever be purely “fun”. I do however feel aspects of the two are compatible. There is no reason why the game cannot become more relaxed and more fun rather than the outdated system in place now

DRESS CODE

Golf is already showing signs of relaxing the dress-code. In my opinion golf is restricted from being “trendy” by the old collared polo shirt and shiny shoes image! Manufacturers and golfers are seen to be rebelling when they wear a cap backwards or wear cuffed trousers (ha!). This is going to change very soon in my opinion, golfers like Rickie Fowler and other role models are making the game trendy for young players and its crucial golf clubs do not stand in the way of this change in image.

trendy clothese

MAKE IT FUN

What an intimidating game this is for beginners! Competitions involve a handicap (which isn’t actually easy to acquire), you often need to have friends to play with, the format is a little boring/confusing, the list goes on… And I love golf! My point is golf clubs could make this so much more fun! As a beginner there should always be more reasons to take up the game than to turn your back on it surely? This is where the golf club come into it……

Suggestions

  • Help new members in meeting a regular “group”
  • Fun 9 hole events (fancy dress, new formats, themed games of golf, team events, no handicap events, new member introduction events, etc)
  • Reduce restrictions where possible! (nothing more fun than a couple of cold ones on the golf course)
  • Think CRAZY (Why not have music on the course? Or play night golf?)
  • Dress down days (within reason)
  • Annual Family Fun Day (not necessarily anything do with golf but gets members and friends up to your club)
  • Modern environment (advanced technology, sports, music, give members reasons to come to your golf club other than just golf)

I mean I get it, Golf is the most frustrating sport in the world, it’s not meant to be fun, and the traditions behind it are amazing! Those traditions have made it the super sport it is today, however at club level those traditions are making it a very hard sell! Without a doubt golf can reinvent itself in more ways than simply wearing a pair of jeans and having a bit of fun but please golf!! Relax a little and make the game fun again just like Top Golf are managing to do with their driving ranges. This won’t destroy the game, and it doesn’t have to destroy the traditions of it either, but it wouldn’t half help it grow!

So this is The Golf Marketing Guy’s first blog post!!

Please let me know what you think! You may totally disagree and I’m all for that, I would love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂

 

2 thoughts on “Is the success of Top Golf a sign of where golf clubs need to be going in the next 5 years?

  1. A lot of what you say rings true but do you think golf clubs have the ‘risk appetite’ for this sort of change?

    My home club has been pretty innovative and has embraced initiatives like footgolf which has been a great success. However, do you think most clubs are willing to risk their relationship with the ‘old stuffy’ golfer (who provides steady income) to take a chance on a generation who cares not for brand loyalty?

    Change is needed, but is club golf ready?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ian, Thanks for your response!

      I would agree at the moment this change will not suit the majority, if not all, golf clubs. 5 years down the line however and I can see it being a very different story.

      The era of the old stuffy golfer, in my opinion, is coming to an end. Though we are right to accommodate this group due to their loyalty, in years to come that market is likely not going to be there. Standards will always be high at golf clubs and that is a great thing however the younger golf club member (the future) is becoming more and more aware of the fact traditions in the sport can be altered. Take spikeless golf shoes, collarless polo shirts, footgolf (brilliant example!). The more common these modern day “fun” alternatives become the more these changes become a necessity rather than a risk. Otherwise golf clubs risk falling behind further than they already are and as you so rightly said, a lack of brand loyalty could make this a critical thing years down the line.

      Thanks again 🙂
      GMG

      Liked by 1 person

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