Positive Economic Conditions Stabilize the Game Much like
Positive Economic Conditions Stabilize the Game Much like many Americans, golfers participating in Sports & Leisure Research Groups December 2017 online survey were more confident about their financial situation, the general economy and increased spending for luxuries. The percentage of golfers who think the game is facing major participation challenges is the lowest since 2015 when it was 57%, but only 43.5% in the latest survey. Although 96% of golfers expected to play the same amount of golf during 2017, the actual percentage was 80%, but both percentages are consistent from
previous years, and 97% said they would play as much during 2018, as they did during 2017. Clubs and Courses Continue to Upgrade Their Brand Responses to the Sports & Leisure Research Group survey also indicate that the significant membership losses many private clubs were experiencing are beginning to stabilize, at 5% less than 2015 and 2016. In addition, private club members concerned are 11% less concerned since 2013 about the financial stability of their clubs. Plus, there were increases in members perceptions their clubs were doing more to attract younger members, youth and families.
Public courses are also making an effort to add amenities players want, such as a scenic location and quality clubhouse, player development programs, restaurants that compete with off-course dining and other games and sports to attract more people. E-Commerce Disrupts Traditional Equipment Sales Channels The Sports & Leisure Research Group survey found fewer golfers, or 26%, said they would spend more on equipment during 2018, compared to 34% during 2017, and the lowest percentage since 2013. Golfers appear to be more willing to buy through other retail channels, as 17% said their purchases
would be on the Internet, a 5% increase from 2016, while 32% said they would purchase from an offcourse specialty shop, a 6% decrease from 2013. Demoing clubs at a store, club, pro shop or driving range was all surveyed golfers #1 factor when deciding which equipment to buy during 2017; however, demoing or playing with clubs on the course was #1 for private club members. Not Always an Easy Game As is the case for many industries in the current tight labor market, golf facility operators are having difficulty finding and retaining quality labor and 70% cite labor costs has having the most impact on their maintenance budgets. It appears golfers arent as acceptable of higher
price points on equipment as during previous years and are less loyal to equipment brands, which is forecast to cause declining sales for drivers, woods and hybrids. The major governing bodies of golf and golf ball manufacturers are considering changing the ball, especially at the professional level and for major tournaments. Players are able to hit the ball so far that some think it is decreasing interest among fans. Tigers Back! A Sigh of Relief from TV Networks Many were skeptical about how quickly Tiger Woods could regain his form, but he almost won the Valspar Championship, March 11th, and was
largely responsible for increasing the final round TV ratings by 190%, to a 5.11, compared to the 2017 broadcast. Although Tiger didnt score as well at the Honda Classic during the last weekend of February, NBC recorded a 38% increase in ratings over the 2017 broadcast. Broadcasts of 2017s major tournaments decreased significantly from 2016, although The Golf Channel reported its second-best third quarter, or 116,000 average viewers in total day, since joining the NBC Sports Group during 2011. The 19th Hole Based on a Q4 2017 survey from MyGolfSpy,
29.58% of the more than 5,300 participants rated Callaway as the leader among golf product manufacturers, followed by Titleist, 25.81%; TaylorMade, 16.65%; and PING, 12.20%. When asked to rate the trustworthiness of manufacturers, PING was first, at 31.74%; followed by Titleist, 23.01%; Mizuno, 17.56%; Callaway, 8.01%; Srixon/Cleveland, 3.44%; and TaylorMade, 3.37%. In Golfs 2017-2018 ranking of the top 100 US courses, the top 5 were Pine Valley, Pine Valley, NJ; Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, CA; Augusta National, Augusta, GA; Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, NY; and National Golf Links, Southampton, NY.
Advertising Strategies With the return of Tiger Woods and the anticipated increase in TV viewership, this is the year to encourage financial services, legal services, architects, boat dealers and similar businesses and retailers to use TV golf broadcasts to reach their highly selective audiences. Suggest public/semi-private courses advertise a special greens fee and possibly a coupon to the courses restaurant during early-morning news for which viewers will qualify if they book a tee time for the next weekend before 9am on the days the spot airs. Courses, clubs and driving ranges can use the data at
the bottom of page 3 of the Profiler to promote and stage a contest at different ability levels to determine how close participants can score on a par-3 hole compared to the pros. Award appropriate prizes. New Media Strategies Public courses that have or are upgrading their restaurants can first acquire players phone numbers in exchange for a greens fee discount, and then send them a mobile coupon to the restaurant while playing and off-course at days/times they may be deciding to dine out. With the smartphone penetration rate among Baby Boomers increasing rapidly, clubs and courses should implement a mobile marketing strategy that
engages with this audience, with a greens fee discount within a week of their 65th birthday, for example. Research other major issues confronting the golf game, such as changing the ball, and then host and promote online surveys among members and players to elicit their votes/comments and use the results as social media posts.
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