Making Golfs Latent Demand Magically Appear

By Adam BarrAugust 24, 2001, 4:00 pm
Fire up the cash registers! A study by the PGA Tour and National Golf Foundation says theres more demand for golf out there.
 
The latest report, which is only the first phase of a larger study being conducted under the auspices of the Golf 20/20 project, says there may be as many as 26 million adults in the United States who dont play golf, but want to. Thats as many wannabes as adults who actually do play the game, the study says.
 
And in addition to the 26 million we already have, there are 4 million juniors not counted in the adult number, plus 6 million who participate only at practice ranges and alternative facilities, the study tells us.
 
These are the people that Golf 20/20, the industry-wide initiative unveiled by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a conference at the World Golf Village last November, is looking for.
 
First of all, credit where its due: The NGF, the Tour and the other organizations involved in 20/20 deserve applause for quickly delivering something tangible in pursuit of objectives that were considered elevated pie by some who attended the November conference. (One of the long-term goals, for example, is to make golf as popular as the National Football League by the year 2020.) With regular reporting of this nature, the world of golf ' and sports 'will see that the game is serious about not going the way of tennis.
 
That said, its time to exit the realm of wishful thinking and take a hard look at the potential the study seems to detect.
 
Where are these people? Whats holding them up? Traffic? They cant all live in Atlanta.
 
And supposing theyre there, what will it take to make them apparent instead of latent? Have we perhaps overestimated their willingness to spend?Make no mistake, spending is what its all about. Sure, more players will be good for The Game Itself. But unless the registers ring, who will want to be in the industries that support golf?
 
One problem many in the golf industry have had with NGF numbers over the years is the question of whos being counted. The NGF has traditionally divided the nations golfers into three segments: Avid (25+ rounds per year, about 6.5 million people), Core (9-24 rounds per year, 7 million people) and Occasional (1-8 rounds per year, 12 million). That last groups importance ' or not ' has been the sticking point.
 
If you play golf, you know full well that anyone who tees it up less than ten times per year is either 1) a golf journalist who really works, or 2) someone whose interest is so casual as to be negligible. Negligible, that is, in the amount spent on golf-related goods and services. (See paragraph on spending, above.) And keep in mind, this is a group numbering slightly less than half of all the golfers in the country.
 
And indeed, year after year, NGF data confirms that Occasionals spend the least, per capita, on golf stuff. The more people play, the more they spend, generally.
 
Perhaps the next question the 20/20 group will address is how we can get the Occasionals to play more. That will necessarily involve getting to know them pretty well.
 
Its a good bet such research is on the way. Likely it will find that occasional golfers have varied interests, may be frustrated with golfs difficulty and/or time demands, dont like golf one way or the other but simply went on a lark when a friend suggested they bat a ball around for awhile ' or all of the above, and more.
 
It will also find that Occasionals may be former Core players who had to back away from the game for a while. Consider the perennial dropouts for whom their childrens toddler years become more important than the Saturday foursome. Perhaps the best way to handle their situation is to keep them interested so theyll come back once the kids grow up and get their own agendas.
 
Thats just a sample of the myriad issues the 20/20 effort has raised. More research ' including the next step in understanding these alleged latent demanders of golf ' will be ready for the next Golf 20/20 conference, Tour sources say. Thats set for Nov. 11-13 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
 
Well be waiting.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.