Among the Strollers and Play Groups Potential Golfers
The second annual Golf 20/20 Conference convened this week at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. More than 240 industry members discussed the future of a non-growing industry.
Heres the mission statement:
to align the golf industry behind a plan that addresses the future of golf in a strategic manner, with an emphasis on accelerating growth and participation, and creating new avenues of access into the game.
Wisely concluding that we cant take anything for granted about golfs potential, the World Golf Foundation (which oversees 20/20) commissioned consumer research. The responses of 100,000 people generated 20/20s first look at the market.
The World Golf Foundation has a clear interest in fan-building, so its not surprising that the results are hopeful. That doesnt mean its not true. But as with all such results, the value depends on your point of view.
For instance, the study says that about 10 million adult U.S. golfers (40 percent of the total) play about 48 rounds of golf per year and spend an average of $1,700 annually on fees and gear. Most of these people are between 40 and 64 years old. They have household incomes of more than $75,000. And there may be 12 million more of them out there, waiting to be invited into the game.
Such an identifiable, easy-to-reach customer base is a marketers dream. I hope this Best Customer scenario works out as well as the WGF hopes.
But theres some potential bad with the potential good. Look at the age group: 40-64. How does this fit in with all the up-and-coming junior programs we hear so much about, such as The First Tee? And look at that income level. Clearly, it excludes a lot of people.
Junior programs were a major topic at this years conference, and the study just cited also said that in the long run (the studys words), junior programs pay considerable participation dividends. But between smitten junior and Best Customer, where is the golfer?
Somewhere in that middle, Im convinced, is a group Ill call by my own research-group name: The Golfer Wanna-Be Parent. I admit my evidence is anecdotal, but just about everyone in the industry agrees that adults of a certain age ' lets say 25 to 35 ' often leave golf or never get to it because of the joys, tribulations and responsibilities of caring for young children.
Ive always wondered how to track the golf lives of such people, or if its even possible. Its important, though. More than child-rearing happens in this era of life. For many, personal income rises steeply, to levels that wont always be spent mostly on formula, milk or dance lessons. Preferences for allocating precious leisure time develop. Children choose sports of their own, influencing the way their parents play and coach.
Time, cost, and difficulty are the factors that intimidate and irritate most nascent golfers, says former Dunlop Slazenger president Dave Branon. Naturally, the first two are special problems for parents of young children.
Perhaps one more challenge to add to the list is how to keep as golfers people who cant play ' as fans, as dreamers, as coaches, as grass-roots organizers. Little League, done right, can awaken the generous baseball coach in a former kid.
And golf can enter (or stay in) the heart of a man or woman who, when playing with a child, dreams of the day he or she can smile and say to the child, You go ahead and hit first.
Tiger putts way into contention at The Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.
Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.
“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”
The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.
Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.
“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”
TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:
• THAT WAS AWESOME!
At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.
• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.
• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.
• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.
• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.
• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.
• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.
• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”
Yes, yes it is.
Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open
It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.
Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:
Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.
Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.
Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.
Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.