I’ve written a series of posts directed at the Golf industry and the challenges it faces as older players die off or leave the game, and young ones aren’t showing up at a rate to replace them. Golf is in major trouble and looks to have no answers as to how to stem the tide.
Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to people who have an interest in golf: regular players, golf course owners, and fans of the game. EVERYONE thinks they know what the problems are as to why younger people aren’t golfing. The most common answers I hear are along these lines:
- Golf is too expensive
- It takes too long
- Millennials have a short attention span.
- There’s nothing that can be done.
Wrong. Wrong, and WRONG.
The reality is that these are all just guesses. Hypotheses. People pontificating without any factual data to back up their assertions.
What we do know is that Golf is bleeding players. Pellucid research tells anyone who listens what the real stats are (a net gain of almost 260,000 women golfers was offset and more by a net loss of nearly 650,000 men), and it offers reporting and local golf market analysis for golf course owners.
But what isn’t offered anywhere that I can find is actual research on what the people who AREN’T golfing think. What isn’t offered is an analysis of the online conversations going on around golf – globally, nationally, and locally.
We know that the under 50’s aren’t golfing, but we don’t really know why.
The frustration for me is that that information is out there. People are talking everywhere online about golf, its challenges, and what they prefer to do instead. The sad reality is that many of the decision makers responsible for marketing golf don’t know that that information is available; nor do they know how to listen.
What is clear to me is that when I talk about what is possible from a listening and data perspective, I’m speaking another language. People don’t seem to understand how we can change their success by using the tools we have at hand.
So, I’m taking the beautiful Bradenton Country Club, which is my local course, and making an example of it.
First, let’s look at their site, run by Jonas Club Management. It’s beautiful and fairly easy to navigate, despite a few user experience issues like the tiny font on the menu bars. Overall it’s visually pleasing, not too text-heavy, and it makes me want to golf.
But remember, we’re targeting GenX and Millennials, so we have to keep their needs in mind. The first thing I see is that there are NO social connections, ANYWHERE.
I like to keep up with events from my favorite places via their social channels, so that’s disappointing. The marketer in me wonders: Does Bradenton Country Club even have social profiles? They aren’t visible on its beautiful website.
After a little digging this is what I found:
I cannot locate a Twitter handle for the Bradenton Country Club, yet over half of Millennials on social media are on.
On Instagram I found a profile for their shop (but not the course itself); it’s been inactive since 2014.
Now consider this: Pew Research reports that more than HALF of Millennials use Instagram:
And I’ll quote JW Intelligence to further make my point:
“Instagram is by far the most used social media outlet for my age group,” writes Andrew Watts, a University of Texas at Austin sophomore,
To make my point further, listen to these details from Pew:
The results in this report are based on American adults who use the internet.1 Other key findings:
- Multi-platform use is on the rise:52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.
- For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook. This represents 31% of all seniors.
- For the first time, roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. And half 0f all Instagram users (49%) use the site daily.
- For the first time, the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50%.
- Women dominate Pinterest: 42% of online women now use the platform, compared with 13% of online men.
It appears that Pinterest is also unused by BCC, which is not so unforgivable at face value. However, women, who are flocking to golf, dominate Pinterest.
Lastly, Bradenton Country Club is not found on Snapchat, the 3rd most popular app among Millennials.
Further than just being ON Social
It is sad to me that in 2015 I have to spend a good portion of my post highlighting how important social media is to reaching customers, but the sad reality is that the Bradenton Country Club’s web presence isn’t very different than what I see with most golf courses, even if it is prettier.
I hear so many course owners bemoan the fact that younger people are golfing; they’ll blame the game and blame young people, but they’ll be damned if they update their marketing methods and talk directly to the people they want to start playing the game.
For the past month or so I’ve been participating in #golfchat on Tuesday nights at 8pm EST; here I found a collection of people who reassured me that there ARE people who get it. Sadly, Golf is an industry where most of the decision makers are so far behind in understanding the revolutionary changes in the way we communicate with the consumer.
What I DO know is that the savvy golf course owner who is willing to open their mind CAN really leap light years ahead. It’s going to take more than a course or two to re-route Golf; we need the organizations responsible for growing the game, AND the manufacturers of Golf products to get on board, but it is entirely possible to reverse the tide and grow the game of Golf again.
If anyone in Golf wants to learn more we’re here. We can help. Get in touch.
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.