The Golf Industry’s Second Act
Everyone loves a comeback story and there’s a simple reason why…we see ourselves in them – our resolve, our grit, our hope; because sooner or later we all hit the skids. It happens to everyone. At some point, we all wind up with our back against the wall and it’s at that exact moment a spotlight lands on our lives and shows us the way to a meaningful “second act”. That’s precisely where the golf industry was sitting early in 2020.
Our sport’s popularity had been significantly waning for years with no one being able to offer up any “real world” solutions that showed any signs of being able to turn that downtrend around. Then disaster struck our world, literally, with the emergence of COVID, the nastiest virus to show up in over 100 years which materialized into a full-blown, world-wide pandemic.
Life, as we knew it, began to systematically shut down in order to limit the spread of the deadly infection. People fought to maintain some semblance of “normal” as we all tried to learn how to “share” our lives with this malevolent little bug. But as history has repeated illustrated, sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute.
It was out of this darkness that golf was given its “second act”. Unlike sports like football, soccer and basketball, hitting the links allows for plenty of social distancing, while wearing a mask is fairly simple given golf’s leisurely pace. It can even be played alone, making golf an ideal and much needed pastime when people were searching for recreational and leisure activities that are considered safe.
Americans suddenly embraced the game again. They dusted off the clubs in their garages and rediscovered the joy of what Mark Twain famously described as “a good walk spoiled”. In 2020, golfers played 12 million more rounds in the U.S. compared to a year ago, a 26% jump. That was a welcome and much needed boost to a game that had fallen out of favor with many people.
The real question, now, is “what’s next?” We can’t pull out the same old strategies and tactics that clearly lead to golf’s demise in the first place. Our industry has been unintentionally and unexpectedly granted the rare opportunity to correct it’s flawed past and capitalize on the astonishing gift we’ve been given. It’s highly doubtful we’re ever going to get this chance again in our lifetimes.
Step one in this daunting journey is to listen and learn. Now is the time to listen to your players and learn why they left the game initially. There’s always a reason why. Understanding the problem is always the first step to finding the best solutions.
Step two is to actually make effective changes from what you’ve learned. This is always the hard part. Most people don’t like changes, they even fear it. However, considering what our industry looked like and the inevitable fate it was clearly heading towards pre-COVID, there is no better time to overcome that fear. It’s imperative to make necessary changes that will keep the golfers coming back long after this pandemic has subsided. Because you can be assured that demand for tee times will decrease as more recreational opportunities open back up and compete for your golfer’s limited leisure time.
LebanonTurf has been serving generations of golf course superintendents since 1947 and we have as much interest in helping the golf industry flourish and prosper as you do. Your success is our success. Your struggles are our struggles. We want to help you in every way we can in sustaining the success of 2020 by providing you and your golf course with the best performing products to help deliver the best possible playing conditions for your golfers and your facility in 2021 and beyond. We encourage everyone to “stop by” our booth at the virtual Golf Industry Show to see how we can help you make the most of the golf industry’s “second act”.