Ted Bishop, PGA of America President, joined The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive to introduce a new initiative designed to Grow the Game. Apparently last week a new task force was created to further explore ideas around how the industry of golf is going to change momentum. The industry is hemorraging players over the past 10 years and in dire need of finding a way to close the wound.
The task force put together is comprised of representatives directly associated with the PGA of America (Pete Bevaqua, Dottie Pepper and Ted Bishop) along with members of the golf media like Damon Hack (Golf Channel) and Ashley Mayo (Golf Digest). Bishop also included athletes from other sports on this special task force, like Bode Miller of US Snow Skiing fame. Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade and Founder of www.hackgolf.com is also included on the group and the www.hackgolf.com platform is the conduit the general public can use to offer suggestions to this newly formed task force.
One of the ideas Bishop introduced on The Morning Drive was the concept of golf courses finding alternative ways to introduce the game. An idea he’s personally going to implement at his golf course in Indiana is Foot Golf. Foot Golf uses a soccer ball and a much larger hole with players kicking their way around the golf course. Bishop claims he’s received a lot of interest from soccer players that previously weren’t interested in playing golf. He hopes that by playing Foot Golf on his golf course they might also want to play traditional golf.
I question whether or not Foot Golf will be successful in transitioning soccer players to golfers. Sure, having people on the golf course or at the facility will likely lead to increased food and beverage revenue and courses can clearly charge the Foot Golf players for “kicking it up” at their facility. But will these Foot Golf players really decide to play traditional golf just because they’ve experienced the golf course? Do these Foot Golf players not know this golf course exists already? I suspect they do and just choose to not play golf in lieu of other activities.
I’ll draw the parallel to basketball and volleyball. Basketball Gym operators quickly learned they could adapt their basketball courts to accommodate the sport of volleyball. New lines were drawn on the court and gyms started to schedule volleyball during non peak basketball hours. Indoor soccer has even crept into the basketball courts with owner / operators choosing different playing surfaces to ensure the soccer players and volleyball players were better accommodated. The basketball players might not like it as much, but for the sake of monetizing the asset, owner / operators asked their core customers (basketball players) to adapt.
I don’t doubt Foot Golf could be successful. It looks like a lot of fun. Imagine the day that golf course owners begin making changes to bunker locations or teeing areas to make Foot Golf more challenging or player friendly. How might that impact traditional golf as we know it?
Foot Golf, if successful, will likely represent nothing more than another way for course owners / operators to bleed their asset. Just like golf courses close the 18th green so a young couple can get married on the golf course on a Saturday evening, or the tee sheet gets closed on July 4th so the local homeowners association can stage a fireworks show. Money is paid to the course for non-traditional revenue opportunities that are important to the going concern of the course. But in each of these money grabs, the core customer, the golfer, isn’t the first priority. If this happens enough, the golfer will find somewhere else to play where he/she feels they are the top priority or they might just stop playing all together. Who needs the hassle?
For Immediate Release:
PGA OF AMERICA LAUNCHES TASK FORCE TO ACCELERATE GROWTH OF THE GAME THROUGH NON-TRADITIONAL MEANS
Ten-person team to develop and evaluate innovative concepts to drive participation
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – In response to the changing face of America and downward participation trends, the Board of Directors of the PGA of America has announced the creation of a PGA Task Force to grow the game through non-traditional means. Comprised of a diverse group of millennial, multicultural, female, industry, and non-industry experts united in their common interest to grow the game, the Task Force will develop and evaluate non-traditional concepts harnessing the unmatched network of the 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals.
“There is nothing that I have been part of to-date that is more important and has greater opportunity,” PGA of America President Ted Bishop said. “The golf experience needs to be redefined. For many people the traditional 18-hole round simply doesn’t work. With the industry at a critical juncture of growth it is our responsibility to consider any and all potential alternatives to enhance the consumer’s enjoyment of the game.”
Members of the Task Force include Arlen Kantarian, who while CEO spearheaded the USTA’s efforts to reverse downward participation trends of tennis; Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf and recent architect of HackGolf.org, which the commission will utilize to crowd source many of these cutting-edge concepts; Bode Miller, who helped spark a resurgence of skiing as the winningest American skier; and Damon Hack, recent entrant to the game and co-host of Morning Drive on the Golf Channel.
These four will be joined by Editor of Audience Engagement at Golf Digest Ashley Mayo; part owner of the innovative golf experience Top Golf Tom Dundon; former NFL player Melvin Bullitt; former LPGA Professional and PGA Board Member Dottie Pepper; CEO of the PGA of America, Pete Bevacqua; and PGA President Bishop.
Although this PGA-led Task Force will maintain a long-term lens, its efforts will focus on developing concepts that can be quickly actioned against and implemented by PGA Professionals and the industry at large.