Chapter 2: An Industry in the Rough What is the biggest problem facing golf today? How can we fix it? Zeb Welborn Golf Jay Miller May be one of my favorite chapters. Love the finger pointing of our times and it is so abundant everywhere in our country. People think they have less time, basically it seems like many are in a hurry to get no where. Family oriented time is trying to save not only golf but the disintegration of the family unit. Remember, back after WW2, 88% of all babies born had a father at home, today it is 47%. 90% of all golfers were introduced to the game by their father or a sibling of their father. Golf is game we will never own, once in a while we get to rent it. Many younger people beleive in entitlements and instant gratification. 100’s of millions of kids can get a new video game and in less than 36 hours “master it”, that does not fit into what golf is about. Women and minorities, we would die to have a larger %. Golf expensive – are you kidding me, take any leisure activity, entertainment activity – the total price divided by the number of hours – golf is a bargain once you have the equipment. And on that note, used golf equipment is so affordable and good, so there is no excuse on that subject either. Intimidation is not a excuse – introduction is the problem. If all golfers and courses stopped their bitching about growing the game and actually sacrificed to introduced just one friend a year to golf, we would have our numbers back in less than 5 years. Golf courses went thru a bad era guys, from 1981 – 2010, designers really believed that tougher was better. Like the average weekend warrior wants to go out after a tough work / raising kids week and get their ass handed to them while playing a game for fun. We really need to mention the economy in your book guys. The last 5 years the average income in America has gone down 7% and inflation has gone up 5%, that is a 12% loss to the average American with a job. Obama care is directly affecting over 1.5 million public golfers who are watching their disposable income get hit on average $1500. We all know that disposable income is our recreational spending income, therefore watch for the golfer to cut back their golf in 2014 by a round or two each. Zeb Welborn Jay, Another great, in-depth response. Lots of points made so I’ll try and address a few of them. I agree that golf is a game we will never own. I think instead of trying to focus on ownership, we should focus on promoting and getting young golfers to take up the game. As a video game player, I can tell you that playing video games did not hinder my ability to take up golf and I don’t agree with many who say the younger generation needs instant gratification. Many do, but most are attracted to the activities where they feel involved and connected. And I think the lack of golf courses presence in social platforms is the main reason why young potential golfers choose video games over golf because social engagement is built into every video game that is being put on the market. I agree that we should all focus on our contacts, families and friends and work together to bring new golfers into the game. Our chapter on marketing in today’s economy does focus on the current shift in our economy and how we’re changing to become a social economy. Love the comments Jay. Let’s keep this discussion going! John Hakim The biggest problem facing golf is the business practices of operators in the sense of de-humanizing the game. Golf is experienced at the golf course. When I surveyed avid golfers on Greenskeeper.org 51% of them said the what they experience regarding the golf course, not how they played or who they played with, but what the golf course provides impacts their enjoyment the most. Recreation activities are based on the level of enjoyment we get. The more we enjoy something, the more we value and appreciate it, and the more we will pay for that enjoyment. De-humanizing the game is cutting back on golf course staff, outsourcing touch points such as call centers, not training golf course employees well enough in human interaction, allowing third party wholesalers to siphon away relationships by working with them, understanding that when a golfer gets a great deal from the third party wholesaler that is where the appreciation and relationship goes, not to the golf course. De-humanizing the game is not actively engaging in social media and not paying forward enough to build long term relationships with customers. Business is all about relationships and relationships is what drives positive word of month thus creating higher customer retention and more customer acquisition. Time for golf courses to connect deeper with customers, build loyal customers that directly appreciate them, cultivate a community of golfers that support them and it all begins with human interactions. Communications technology is on the golf courses side now so its time for golf courses to learn how much it can benefit them.