Has golf gone down the digital rabbit hole?

The covid pandemic may have forever changed the way we use technology in golf. David Cederholm, Toptracer’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Sales Director, reveals more to Steve Carroll. With Covid restrictions being removed across the UK, the use of technology in golf is now shifting into a different phase. Pandemic restrictions meant people turned to their phones, or other digital methods, to play the game, record their scores and track their progress and it’s clear the digitisation of the sport took a significant step forward. In other areas of our lives, whether we are checking our bank balances or paying for products, tech has made things simpler and quicker. But until coronavirus struck with such vengeance, some areas of the golf industry were slow to get in on the act. Now, with online tee booking common at even the most traditional of golf clubs and touchscreens the default way to deal with competitions, has golf moved into a new digital age? As EMEA sales director at Toptracer, David Cederholm is at the forefront of this new revolution. Toptracer products, whether it is the shot tracer that is now an expected requirement of TV viewing, or the driving range experience that is transforming the way we develop our games, are at the heart of the process. So who better to ask about the future? Have the last 16 months been a flash in the pan or are we now irrevocably down the rabbit hole? Digitisation has obviously been accelerated by the pandemic. Does that become more prevalent even as restrictions have eased? I think so. Golf has enjoyed a boom because of the pandemic. That’s because golf is a form of entertainment and while other forms of entertainment have been closed, golf is naturally outdoors and socially distanced. That’s why a lot of people have either played more golf, returned to the game, or taken it up. Golf has, in recent years, had a challenge around participation numbers declining. We believe the gamification of the range and this technology is key to growing that participation and retaining the boom that is here now. If we look at where golf is going to be in five years’ time, there are two routes you can take: If a facility invests now, works on retention and a more immersive experience to keep people coming back, then you could look back in five years and say 2021 was the catalyst for change - because it was the start of bringing people in and it was technology like ours that helped retain them. Or if we pat ourselves on the back because golf facilities are popular right now, but don’t invest in changing the experience, we’ll look back and only say those couple of years, because of the pandemic, were a boom. My background has always been in changing consumer behaviour through technology. That’s one thing golf has never had. Because it’s so hard to play, and is a very time-consuming game, people can think...
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