Golf and the way people interact with the game is changing, and in very meaningful ways. Those who attend the Symposium this year will walk away with a new depth of understanding of how the game and business are progressing, and how that evolution may affect them.
Major championships this year at The Country Club and The Old Course are among the most visible examples showing how we honor the traditions of the game. Many orthodoxies that our core customers appreciate are the same ones that make the game seem intimidating, unapproachable and unwelcoming to the millions very interested in playing… yet still don’t.
Golf’s business success depends primarily on a different game, the one played every day at America’s 14 thousand golf course businesses. Even with the boost provided by the pandemic, the number of people playing the green grass game today is roughly the same number as when Tiger Woods started playing professional golf in the late 1990s. Perhaps more than ever before, we have an expanding ecosystem to more effectively engage people and bridge the chasms between the couch and the course, and then between trial of green grass golf and the conversion of those beginners into long-term committed golfers.
With the number of off-course participants now equaling the same 25 million threshold as on-course, do we have a bright and growing future of players/customers in the pipeline? Does any other sport have such a robust on ramp? Are golf’s prospects repelled by an onboarding system resistant to change? Are the Topgolfers, simulator fans and driving range swatters migrating to the course and at what level? Is the so-called “metaverse” actually a black hole of digital time commitment that will further limit opportunities for living, breathing, real-life pastimes? What can we learn from those outside our game, about small and large changes that have increased engagement, participation and spending?
Growth in any business or industry requires progress, an evolution of the product itself and the way we attract and retain new people into the ecosystem of the game. Golf isn’t broken… far from it. It remains the most popular individual pay-for-play form of recreation. But make no mistake, golf’s opportunity will be magnified through its purposeful intersection with the evolution of recreation in a larger sense. How can we take best advantage of popular social and behavioral trends that incorporate technology, gaming, facility design, inclusion and everything that is earning larger shares of personal time? People prioritize things in their lives that are fun!
As in previous years, Symposium guests will receive the NGF’s debut presentation of the State of the Game and Business of Golf, including a dive into emerging trends and a data-driven perspective on how the game is moving forward after another unprecedented year for our business. We’ll be sharing both a broad and granular look at the golf economy and the dynamics and insights that will impact the overall business and your business.
This is a most interesting time for the golf business. We can’t wait to see you in person in Charlotte. More specifics on the agenda and guest speakers to be released in the coming weeks.
For those who choose to spend their time with us, we are dedicated to making The Symposium the most valued 24 hours of your business year.