Golf Inc - Summer 2012 - (Page 38)
Britney Spears as golf spokesperson?
By ROBERT J. VASILAK Here’s a headline that pretty much sums up the problem our business has with attracting young people: BRITNEY SPEARS TAKES UP GOLF, SCARES OFF GOLFERS. The headline was written by a wag at the Arizona Republic, in the mistaken belief that he (or she) was doing our business a favor by making fun of a celebrity who’s learning to golf. But the truth is, Spears isn’t scaring off anybody on any golf course in the world. In fact, when she steps up to a tee, large crowds gather. And if the leaders of the golf industry had any courage, they’d enlist her to attract a lot more. The Republic’s story, like so many others about golf presented by the lamestream media, is really ugly and demoralizing. For starters, it identifies Spears as the singer of a CommEntAry song called “Toxic,” and we all know that “toxic” things are bad things. The suggestion, I presume, is that Spears is bad for golf. I assure you, she is not. Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m making a mountain of a molehill, consider this: Spears has released something like seven albums. She’s sung dozens of songs that a newspaper writer could link to her. To cite just one example, a story in the Sun, the British newspaper that broke the news of Spears’ interest in golf, linked her to “Oops!... I Did It Again.” What makes “Toxic” a more appropriate association? The Republic’s story says golfers are “struggling to deal with Britney’s inability to play the game, as she regularly lets go of her club and cannot hit the ball.” News flash: This is common among beginners. Finally, the story repeats a comment from a golfer originally published by the Sun: “‘It’s heads-up when she’s around. She’s hit a few golfers and managed to land balls in golf carts.” So did Gerald Ford, folks. You know, I never in my life imagined I’d write so many words about Britney Spears, let alone so many in her defense. And I’m
AP PHoto/EvAn Agostini
not done yet. Justin Timberlake, the singer and actor, is so passionate about our game that he bought a golf course in Tennessee. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 is a “The Haney Project” graduate. Emily Blunt, the love interest in “The Adjustment Bureau”, has recently taken up golf. (When a reporter asked her why, she replied, “There’s something cool about whizzing around on a golf cart with ice-cold beers.”) Like Spears, these are young, popular, successful people who enjoy golf, and in recent years our industry has been desperately seeking to attract others just like them. But do you think we’ll see them — or any crowd-attracting, opinion-making young stars — in an advertising campaign for golf anytime soon? The answer is no. Our tradition-bound industry would rather let the press joke about young celebrities who play golf, especially when they don’t quite fit the mold country-clubbers prefer. (See Cooper, Alice.) Our idea of reaching out to new markets is to trot out geezers and has-beens at celebrity tournaments, in the mistaken belief they’ll make kids laugh and “grow the game.” (Note: I’ll never stop loving you, Bill Murray.) Our business is calcifying right in front of our eyes. More than half of the rounds played in the United States – 54 percent, according to the National Golf Foundation – are played by people older than 50. And more than half of all U.S. golfers – 54 percent again – are older than 40. We need to change the image of golf, to make it younger and hipper. I don’t think it would be so awful to see a television commercial featuring Spears mishitting a few balls, making some jokes about herself, and ending with a tag line that goes something like; “Join me. It’s fun!” I know she sometimes comes off as white-trashy, but jeez, she plays at Sherwood Country Club. l Robert J. Vasilak blogs at WorldGolfReport.blogspot.com, where a version of this article originally appeared.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Golf Inc - Summer 2012
Golf Inc - Summer 2012
Table of Contents
Hiring Right: The First Step Toward Great Customer Service
New EPA Regulations Will Increase Turf Equipment Costs
Britain’s Greenkeepers Association Makes Operational Improvements, CEO Says
What the Future of Golf Could Look Like
Textron Financial, Capmark Put Golf Portfolios Up for Sale
With Commercial Real Estate Confidences Up, Is Golf Close Behind?
The Evolution of Donald Trump
Tasmania’s Coming of Age
Largest Management Companies
Renovation of the Year
Bald Head’s Logistical Challenge
The State of Technology in the Golf Industry
Britney Spears as Golf Spokesperson?
Golf Inc - Summer 2012