Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Discover the tools to improving your golf game…

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Improving your golf game, the social golfer, golf partnersOnce you’ve been hooked by the golf bug, the next thing you’ll want to do is look at ways of improving your golf game…

We spoke to our friends at Bird Golf Academy in Arizona and asked them for their advice…


Improving your golf game – Where to Begin

Even Tiger Woods started practising his golfing technique with the basics.

He wasn’t born an expert, so you shouldn’t expect yourself to be a pro after a few swings.

To become good at any sport, not just golf, you have to learn the game from scratch and practice the fundamentals before rising to the expert level.

To start, you should take some time at the golf course nearest to your home and rent some gear.

You’ll only play around with it at first, getting a feel for the different clubs.

There are five major types:

  • Woods have large heads and are used for long shots.
  • Irons are thin and angled and are used for tee shots on short holes or for shots on the fairway.
  • Hybrids, a newer type that are a little easier to use than irons.
  • Wedges are even more angular and which are used for short approach shots and for shooting out of a sand bunker.
  • Putters are specialized for putting.

Choosing the right golf club for a shot takes time and experience but is integral to playing a great game.

Improving your golf game – Practice, Practice, Practice

There are no two ways around it, if you want to improve at golf, you are going to have to commit time and effort.

Improving your golf game to a more professional level involves a lot of preparation – just ask Tiger, who practice fora solid  2 hours before EVER round.

But you can’t just practice swinging the club over and over.

It’s important to identify the fundamental movements and ideas behind each aspect of golf and to spend time perfecting those techniques.

Masters can only move onto expert technique once they’ve got the basics.

Improving your golf game – The Fundamentals

The Grip

The basics of gripping a golf club are intuitive, to say the least.

Make sure that you find a comfortable way to grip the club with your hands connecting.

The left-hand (or right-hand if you’re are a leftie) matters a great deal for swing strength and performance.

You should also focus on grip pressure and avoid holding the club too tightly.

Your right hand should match your left.

Finally, make sure your club grip is in good condition.

The Stance

Measure the width of your shoulders using your club.

Have the insides of your feet at least this far apart for full shots, but widen your stance for longer clubs like drivers.

Don’t point your toes out too much at an angle. Your knees need to be slightly flexed but not fully bent.

Finally, keep your bodyweight spread between your toes and heels at about a 50/50 ratio.

Your Alignment

To achieve an optimal “square stance”, you should place your club along the line of your toes.

This club should point parallel left of your target in the distance.

Your Posture

Make sure to hold your club with your arms and legs straight, with your shoulders pulled back and chest out.

Tilt forward with your club using just your hips. Keep your back flat. As you lower the club, flex your knees.

This is the optimal golfing posture for making a shot.

The Swing

After achieving perfect posture and alignment, begin your swing by bringing your club back and transferring weight to your right foot.

When your club is at a 90-degree angle, you can begin to make your swing.

Your hips and chest should do most of the movement.

When you strike the ball, your right shoulder and knee should have transitioned, with your right toes out and your left foot taking most of your weight.

Conclusion

While these are just the basics of what the experts can teach you, many other things will affect your game, the weather, the wind, the temperature, your clothing, to name a few.

You will also need to adjust your thinking when playing golf in the winter months

AND you will need focus and patience, if you want to keep improving your golf game.


By Ian Mullins

Top tips – which electric golf trolley is for me?

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Which Electric Golf Trolley - Powerkaddy - The Social GolferWhich Electric Golf Trolley?

So, despite saying I would continue to carry my golf bag until I can’t, the recent improvements in design, fold-up size and battery life have forced me to rethink this stance of late.

Now in my early fifties, is this the time to make the change?

However, with so many different options available to choose from, which electric trolley suits my needs and budget? In an attempt, to find out, I did some research…

 


I need an electric golf trolley – The Considerations…

Firstly, as already stated above, there are numbers of factors I found I needed to take into account when selecting an electric golf trolley…

 

1. Budget – While a ‘Push’ trolley can be bought for as little as £50, a good electric golf trolley will start upwards of £400 and can cost as much as £1000

 

2. Design – Unless you have an American RV pick-up truck or state of the art Range Rover, like many, the size your new electric golf trolley packs down to, will be big determining factors when it comes to purchasing.

However, best to measure the space in your boot before committing to your purchase as some items are not as small as you think.

In addition, pay close attention to the carrying handles, as I found one of the more expensive models very difficult to carry and even took the skin off my knuckles on firs test!

 

3. Battery – With some batteries only catering to the 18 holes golfer, it’s worth considering if you want to charge the lithium battery in your cart every time you play.

Or if you sometimes play more than one round in a day, should you upgrade to a Long-Life battery at the time of purchase may only add an additional £50 to your costs

 

4. The Brands – There are so many brands available on the market but right now (July 2019) the market leader are without doubt PowerKaddy and MotoCaddy.

Both PowerKaddy and MotoCaddy are UK based business.

In fact, MotoCaddy was started by ex-PowerKaddy employees.

Which Electric Golf Trolley - MotoCaddy - The Social Golfer

Between them, they hold 95% of the UK market with PowerKaddy being the market leader with a 60% share compared to MotoCaddy’s 35%.

 

5. Warranty – Having spoken with a number of retailers and it would seem some electric carts are more prone to faults that other.

One retailer said, “We do occasionally see PowerKaddy’s trolleys returned but rarely do we see a return from MotoCaddy purchasers”.

However, given this quote came from just one of many hundreds of retailers, I don’t think it would be a fair representation of the brand as a whole.

In addition, having looked at online reviews, MotoCaddy is certainly winning on the testimonial stakes! Google Reviews: PowerKaddy (1 Review) – 1.0 star, MotoCaddy (29 reviews) – 2.9 stars

 

6. Function – Many carts now come with GPS included but I would ask do I need it, given that I have a handheld GPS already?!

 

7. Accessories – As with most golf products there is always an additional gadget or to add to the pot and with an electric golf trolley, this still applies.

Whether you want a dedicated ‘Trolley Bag’, a Waterproof Rain cover or umbrella holder the additional spend can soon mount up.

 

8. Repairs & Servicing – Obviously like all manufacturers, they are procedures to follow depending on whether it’s faulty goods or a warranty issue.

But in my limited research, I found that PowerKaddy were easy to contact, whereas I was told and 2.40pm that the marketing team were out to lunch.

#JustSaying

 

So, while I don’t think I am in a position to tell you, which is the right Electric Golf Trolley for you or if it will improve your golf swing, but hopefully, I’ve given you some additional things to consider before you make your purchase.

 


By Ian Mullins

The Open 2019 – Will American’s continue to dominate…

Golf Participation in the UK in 2019 – Who’s to blame…

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer 5Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – Who’s to blame?

As many people have reported over the last few years, golf in the UK has seen a decline both in rounds played and in membership.

So, is the game in terminal decline or is there a renaissance around the corner?

Here, Ian Mullins (Managing Director of The Social Golfer) gives us his view…


Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – The stats…

Golf participation has been declining since its last heyday in the 1990s when you couldn’t move for new golf clubs being built at a rapid rate. But let’s look at the stats in the cold light of day…

There are approx. 3.9m* golfers in the UK and approx. 1.3m of those belong to a golf club.

This means 2.6m people that play the game DON’T belong to a golf club.

Meanwhile, according to data from Statista (the statistics portal regarding golf participation in England from 2007 to 2016), the conclusion is that, as of September 2016, approx. 1.1 million adults in England play golf on a monthly basis.

Since 2007, the number of golf players has thus been decreasing from about 1.5m players. This makes a decrease of about 27 per cent over eight years.

The biennial survey (by Sports Marketing Surveys) tries to paint a very positive picture for golf club membership in England, declaring since the 2016 survey, that club membership numbers on average, are up by 24 members.

In 2016, the average number was 460, in 2018 that was up to 484.

However, that doesn’t take into account the number of golf clubs that have closed, so it’s hardly a trend.Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer

Meanwhile, you don’t need statistics to know many of the golf clubs I know, are empty after 12 noon on a weekend.

And I’m not on my own: www.telegraph.co.uk/golf/2018/09/25/golf-needs-modernised-halt-steady-decline-experts-have-say/

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – What’s changed…

Well, of course, no one can deny that there has been a seismic shift in our lifestyle and habits in the last 20 years.

Life is no longer lived in our local community and people are much keener to venture out and have new experiences.

However, Golf clubs have not only failed to move with the times, but some have even gone backwards.

Coupled with the ‘Global financial meltdown’ in 2008, it has become harder and harder for golfers to justify £1k a year in membership fees and that’s before they’ve even hit a ball.

Furthermore, clubs (and England Golf) have blindly and stubbornly failed to address the sexist and racist attitudes that still exist in many of these white middle-class fiefdoms.

And the professional game hardly covers itself in glory.

Yes, that’s right, despite having a black golfer at the helm of our professional game for over 20 years, how many of you can name another black golfer on the tour?

Vijay? (Asian), Tony Finau? (Asian). Steve Curry – yes!

But where is the BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethic) golfer from the UK? Sadly, in this respect, once again our governing bodies have failed us!

Coupled with the fact that in 2018, Georgia Hall won The Open Women’s Championship and yet no one outside of golf in the UK would know who she is.

So, while all other forms of sport have addressed the issues (or at least tried), Golf has at best ignored the change in attitudes.

As such, Golf Clubs are not seen as diverse places. On the contrary, that is deemed as unwelcoming and inaccessible by many.

Lastly, golf is still an expensive game to take up – e.g. A set of clubs, shoes, bags etc, start from £500.

Then I need to pay every time I play. Yet, I can buy a bike for £500 and be on the road, for free, within a few minutes.

Yet, to compete fairly, the industry says I HAVE to join a ‘bricks & mortar’ golf club to track my handicap.

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer 2

A typical golf club committee in 2019!

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – They just don’t get it…

I presented The Social Golfer concept to a panel of England Golf bigwigs back in 2014.

I am still in disbelief that the response to our innovative approach to making golf accessible was only met with mild interest, not to mention a little arrogance.

Why don’t you have more members I was asked?

“I’m sorry, we’ve just built a platform of 6,500 members (now over 10K) in over 140 countries without any help from anyone and with our own money… I thought we’d done pretty well.” 

The response I wanted to give would have been “What the hell have any of you done!”

But experience told me it would not be a professional response, after all, we’re here to make friends not enemies.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to leave the room, and, if anything, it made me more determined that we could, and would, do it without them.

So, despite issuing a brief to find commercial partners to help them ‘grow the game’, they finally settled on a partnership with Your Golf Travel.

Surely, they take people AWAY from the UK to play golf, rather than encourage people to take up the game in the UK?

In addition, given this was 2014, I was shocked to be introduced to a self-serving, blazer-wearing, back slapping brigade of executives.

Who shockingly, even 10 years after the invention of Facebook (now 15 years), couldn’t see the changing world around them. But they are not the only ones…

Oh no, their friends in the marketing department were busy pretending to the world they were forward-thinking when they commissioned a new ad campaign to promote the game aimed almost solely on increasing golf participation in the UK.

Just because you invest in a marketing campaign using diverse characters, doesn’t mean they will be welcomed with open arms.

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer

This message is not effective unless it is backed up by action!

When the lumberjack shirt or pink leather jacket wearing Millennials turn up at a club, he or she is more likely to be sent away with a book of rules on golf attire.

How will this increase Golf participation in the UK?

My point is, the left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing – or if it’s even connected to the same body!

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – The Media…

And another thing, (now you’ve got me started), why oh why is golf not being supported by terrestrial TV?

If Tiger’s Wood’s win at Augusta last weekend told us anything, it’s that golfers, and even non-golfers, will watch if the game if accessible.

So why do they keep doing deals with SKY TV, when they could be promoting golf to the next generation via the BBC or even ITV or Channel Four.

Why is there not even so much as a ‘highlights show’ of the European Tour on a Monday night?

That would keep the game ‘front of mind’ and encourage new audiences to find the game.

I have no doubts that this Easter weekend will see many kids pretending to be Tiger in their back garden, just like I pretended to be Seve in 1978, but I suspect few will make it to a course or range.

Furthermore, I have given up counting the number of times I have contacted a golf club to discuss them hosting one of our Major events (70 people + green fees) and often, I never even get my calls returned.

In short, having spent 25 years in the Advertising and Marketing industry before taking the helm at The Social Golfer, that’s nearly 9 years in the sector, I am still in shock at the lack of professionalism in the golf industry.

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – What else has changed?

Well, whether the R&A or England Golf acknowledge it or not, the world has moved on around them.

We are now competing for consumers’ time against a whole plethora of other sports and pastimes.

Yes, traditional sports like football and cricket are still played but now there are others, like Basketball, NFL and Gaming (yes, I’m talking Sony Playstations), and then there’s Box Sets, Netflix and Experience days – think Adventure Golf – which is the modern-day equivalent of the Crazy Golf courses, I remember for my day trips to the seaside as a kid.

As well as online betting, casino websites and other 21st century distractions to amuse us.

Meanwhile, I can book a flight to Australia on my smartphone from the comfort of my sofa, yet at some golf clubs, I have to phone the club landline to book a tee time.

In addition, we are now living in the ‘Review Culture’, whereby many will not purchase anything before consulting other people’s views and experiences.

As such, it would seem no one has the expertise to lead golf out of the doldrums, and very few clubs have a clue about marketing.

Ask them what their current R.O.I (Return On Investment) is, or what the value of retweet versus an online banner campaign is and watch the bead of sweat appear on their forehead.

All I hear from golf club managers and industry figures (who should know better) is that it’s all about ‘social media’ these days.

Well, relying on a 22-year old with no experience in media, promotion or PR (except posting stuff on their Instagram feed), does not make them an expert in marketing.

As someone who has spent over £100m for my clients (including Emirates Airlines, the London Golf Show and others), if you think Social Media is the answer to your membership woes – you’re 15 years behind the curve.

I suspect most of them wouldn’t even know what a paid-for campaign on Facebook even looked like!

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – So what’s the answer?

Firstly, the ‘powers that be’ need to put their egos and job titles to one side, and look at the game from the consumers’ point of view.

– Modern consumers want Choice, Experience, Value and Respect. Period.

– They don’t want gimmicks, they want equality and accessibility.

– Golf clubs need to relax dress codes and start treating visitors as customers, not interlopers

– They should invest in good photography before they invest in a new graduate with plenty of opinions but no experience.

– They need to up their game in terms of customer service

– The game MUST be on Terrestrial TV, reaching new audiences rather than preaching to the converted

Furthermore, a ‘Like’ is not ‘Engagement’.

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer 4

A link to the club website from a like-minded golf website (a backlink), written in language consumers understand (not just the golf Pros) is much more valuable to your marketing.

And if you think a so-called ‘Social Media Influencer’ wearing ‘Jazzy’ leggings are going to save the game, you are deluded.

Yes, they might encourage a few, but it’s hardly a game changer.

Sadly, it seems to me that golf is so desperate that they’ll jump on any bandwagon that comes along, rather than taking a planned and rational approach to growing the game.

In my humble opinion, in the next 20 years, golf will move almost completely away from the membership model and be solely reliant on ‘Pay & Players’.

Which is when many golf clubs will be held to ransom by their lack of good course and service reviews.

The industry will become more akin to the restaurant industry too, whereby reviews on Trip Advisor make or break them.

Meanwhile, the clubs that recognise this shift in lifestyles and attitudes will thrive and prosper.

However, in the meantime, here at The Social Golfer we will continue to be a challenger to the traditional golf model.

Even if it’s only a small token effort to increase golf participation in the  UK, we’re doing something to provide an innovative and useful platform for golfers to enjoy their sport.

We are democratising the game, and we hope others follow!


By Ian Mullins

*Source: TGI

The Social Golfer is an Online Golf Club with over 5K golfers in the UK and over 10K worldwide.

Over 1,000 events and games were arranged by our members in 2018.

The site has over 4K Golf Club and course reviews and over 25K scorecard submissions.

Visit us at www.thesocialgolfer.com