The golf industry as a whole is very short sighted. The typical owner, manufacturer, and PGA professional are focused on the 50 year old male golfer who is going to buy clubs, balls, take a lesson, and play on weekend mornings. Naturally these are the players who keep the lights on, but what if you could increase revenue with other age cohorts who want to spend and are your best advocates?
There has been an emphasis on women’s golf and junior play in recent years, but what about the young adult player who is going to be that 50 year old 20 years from now? According to the National Golf Foundation, in the late 2000’s there were 7.7 (18-34 year old) golfers in the United States. The next generation of golfers has long been ignored by the golf industry and could pose some significant problems in the future. What happens in 20-30 years when the 50 year old golfers run out and young adults do not want to play since no one cared about them in the past. Don’t ignore these consumers until it is too late…
1) They spend – According to American Express in a Golf Spend Sights report, golf spending for Gen Y increased by 27% from 2007-2011 where all other segments of golf spending including adults, seniors, and juniors were declining. Young adults are not on a fixed budget, not worried about retirement, and are not funding a 529 plan. They will be the folks buying a new glove, a dozen balls and a couple beers at the turn.
2) They use Technology – The next generation of golfers has been trained to use the internet to find what they are looking for. The web presence of a golf course including how your course website looks as well as outside reviews of the course on sites like Yelp are crucial. Golf course websites are some of the worst sites I have ever seen. If your site looks terrible, I would assume the golf course follows suit.
3) They are Social – Given everyone has their phones attached to their hip at all times and with tools like twitter, facebook, yelp and online forums, word can spread very quickly. This can be a good or a bad thing for your golf course. Golf facilities should be set-up socially with facebook and twitter as well as monitor reviews of your course online. If you are a good facility, with great value, there should be nothing to hide since social sharing can actively help grow your business.
4) They can be your best customer or worst enemy – These consumers could be your best or worst customers. Young guys and girls have grown up in the service generation and have high expectations of a good customer experience. If your staff provides a poor experience to a younger individual, not only will you have lost a customer that day, you will have lost a customer for life. Any by the way, all of their friends will know about it and you may have just lost 20 more customers than you think.
Open your eyes and start to think about the future sustainability of your business. The young adult golf market starts with the 18-22 year old college student. Find out how you can get more college students playing your course and increase revenue through student play.