Three things you need to know from the past month in the golf industry
1. Bumper year ahead for women’s and girls’ golf
What’s happened: Following the first meeting of the GCMA’s Women’s Golf Leadership Group, more opportunities are being created across GB&I for women and girls to play golf.
What does it mean? Quite a lot, actually. The Ladies European Tour, England Golf and the Golf Foundation are teaming up at Buckinghamshire GC on May 13 for a women’s and girls’ development event which will feature leading golfers, coaching and Girls Golf Rocks ambassadors. That is just the start.
Alongside Women’s Golf Day on June 5, England and Wales Golf are planning to hold Women and Girls’ Golf Weeks at the end of the July. The PGA are also getting in on the act with a number of professional and amateur events throughout the year working in tandem to raise the profile of women’s and girls’ golf.
What happened: You can’t fail to have noticed England Golf’s revamped Get into Golf campaign, which was relaunched at the start of last month with the express purpose of being very bright, thought provoking and unashamedly aiming to “shake up ideas about the sport”.
What does it mean? The advertising campaign certainly began with a bang and achieved exactly what England Golf wanted – which was to get people talking about it. A series of photographs showing new players wearing bright, social, clothing was at the heart and the organisation also enlisted a group of “social influencers” from other sports to try and boost the message.
They will be trying the game and reporting back to their hundreds of thousands of followers across Instagram and other social networks. The Get into Golf website still offers taster sessions and courses for beginners and improvers and the aim of the campaign, at the outset at least, is to get people along to a session, get them with a club in their hands and get them hitting shots.
That message is paramount because a number of clubs have expressed opinions over what message those adverts are putting across to potential new golfers. Whatever we think about growing the game, and all efforts to get more players on the course should be warmly applauded, there is also the juxtaposition that – at many clubs – most of the players portrayed in the adverts would be unable to play the course.
So what does that mean? Should England Golf be more cognisant of the traditions of clubs when putting together promotional material to try and increase participation or is it time for clubs to relax, or even end, their dress codes and accept that clothing should not be a primary concern when accepting a green fee or a new member?
3. Participation is down, but don’t panic!
What happened: Sports researchers Sports Marketing Surveys revealed a drop in rounds played of more than 22%, compared with the same period in 2017, in their Q1 2018 Rounds Played figures.
What does it mean? Scotland, with a fall of 15.7%, was the least affected territory with the north the worst – having lost a third of rounds compared to last year. While this has had substantial effects on revenue at golf clubs, it’s also important to bear in mind that the figures are largely affected by the two-part “Beast from the East” that dominated the latter part of the winter.
In March, rounds played were 35% down on 2017. And with Q1 only accounting for 15 to 20% of annual rounds played, SMS INC director Richard Payne was still positive. “Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the sun gives us a helping hand too.”