Over the last few years there have been many initiatives introducing new golf formats to the game, but is all the razzmatazz necessary to get people playing golf?
We asked Emma Ballard, Head of Digital at Medi8 Limited, PR agency to American Golf and many other brands. She is also the UK Ambassador for Womens Golf Day.
New Golf Formats – Why are they here?
In recent times, there has been a real push to get more people, especially women & children, playing the game.
With the number of people playing regular golf over the last 10 years declining, governing bodies, golf organisations and professional tours have tried to come up with ways to reach out and get golf back on peoples’ agenda.
Back in 2006 when numbers were healthier, you’d find the majority of golfers out on a golf course playing 18, 9 holes or pitch & putt, the driving range and of course, the holiday requirement of a bit of adventure golf!
The use of indoor simulators was on the increase and if you lived near the outskirts of London you could make your range sessions much more fun by going to Top Golf.
Oh, and on a slight aside, social media was in its infancy.
Since then, as the numbers declined, golf has had a go at redefining itself by attempting to alter the format and make the game look more fun and appealing to a younger generation.
New Golf Formats – Where did it begin…
It started at club level with the introduction of PowerPlay Golf, 9 holes with 2 flags, and through other initiatives like SPRINT6GOLF, it culminated in the European Tour’s GolfSixes event this May.
They threw lots of new ideas into the tournament, golf got its version of a Hollywood makeover, creating a lot of buzz and excitement amongst spectators.
But what I wonder is whether this is necessary, is this the way forward for golf?
Looking at golf today, your options to play are endless, there is everything that I have mentioned that was available back in 2006, but now most ranges are also equipped with some indoor golf facilities.
It’s no longer frowned upon to want to play a quick 9 holes, pop-up adventure golf in cities is commonplace and if you don’t fancy hitting a ball you can kick one at the hole in the form of FootGolf.
Considering social media again, it’s now an integral part of our lives, a fabulous tool to promote a golf facility with an ability to be able to target a much larger audience and with the likes of TheSocialGolfer.com you never have the problem of finding someone to play with!
Golf in itself hasn’t changed, like tennis or badminton, the process and mechanics of hitting a ball is just the same, it’s only the club you are using and the ball you are hitting which have altered over the years due to the vast investment into research and development.
New Golf Formats – My View…
So why with so many more playing options than 10 years ago and the basic method of swinging a golf club unchanged is there a need to focus so much on the format of the game?
I suggest we don’t mess with the format, the game works perfectly well as it is?
Surely we need to focus time and effort at a local level, low cost marketing the wonderful facilities that are available by making use of some, or all, of the low-cost social media channels on offer.
By driving people through the door, golf clubs/venues can use the pathways into golf that are already available to get more people back playing and gain new recruits along the way.
Essentially golf is fun and has a great social side to it too.
With the ability to make it part of family life, a sport that anyone can play and an ever ageing population – it’s time to ditch the razzmatazz and new golf formats and get back to simple ways when golf sold itself!