The other day I was sitting at my desk talking with one of my colleagues about the game of golf, and I mentioned, that I knew how to play. As per usual I wasn’t surprised that he was shocked that I knew how to play the game, a reaction I get when I bring up that I play golf or used to play ice hockey. I actually grew up playing golf, as my dad is an avid golfer, and signed us up for golf lessons as soon as we were coordinated enough to swing a club. I was pretty good at game, usually landing on the leader-boards, before walking away from the game out of frustration, boredom, hating the early mornings in the summer and the fact that none of my friends played.
Fast forward to present day, and the golf industry is actually on the decline, and this is because the golf industry is missing out on targeting a very important segment of the population—me—well to be politically correct my generation, Millennials. A generation that values ease, speed, and was raised on “instant gratification” and social media. When I think of golf, none of those words come to mind, so is that why my generation is choosing not to golf?
According to the National Golf Foundation there were 400,000 fewer golfers in 2013 with 200,000 of the decline coming from my generation, who represents 25% of the nation’s population, a very staggering fact. This came as a surprise to me, as personally I have had an itch to get back on the golf course, and many of my friends are either playing or starting to learn the game of golf. So how does the golf industry go about targeting the Millennials? I don’t think there is a simple straight forward answer.
The golf industry has made moves in the right direction to try to understand the millennial consumer and what they need to do attract them. Using the many articles and studies out there that has been created on reaching this generation which makes up such a large portion of the population, and will be the ones that are soon to fill the baby boomers spending power shoes. Adweek recently released an infographic that contains stats of this target audience, that many businesses that are looking to target millenials would find helpful.
Using this type of information, the golf industry is now trying to overcome the stigma that the sport is time-consuming, exclusive, and expensive, which has so many millennials choosing not to swing a golf club. With the rollout of the Play 9 campaign by the USGA, the idea is to target those millennials who don’t have the time or money to play a full 18 holes. I still think that golf has a long way to go, yet are taking a step in the right direction and with the golfers like Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, two young millennials, rising up the ranks in golf and having an active presence on social media I think millennials are starting to pay attention again. The USGA should jump on that bandwagon as well, who better to market to millennials but millennials themselves. I think by bringing in millennials to help generate ideas on how to get their generation to the golf courses around the United States, it can help fight the decline in golfers. If there is anything I do have to say about my generation is that we love to think outside the box, and this is one challenge I think many millennials would love to take on—at least I know I would.