The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 16

THE LAST WORD Finally, some help for golf 's time crunch P eriodically the headline topic from one of the various golf industry discussion boards that (over)populate my email box catches my eye. Regular readers of this page (perhaps assuming facts not in evidence as the attorneys say) will be aware of my feelings about the continued focus on pace of play as the root of the golf-takes-too- much-time evils by the industry's "leading" associations. So those folks will understand why I couldn't resist the discussion entitled "Is pace of play a big deal?" on the Golf Industry Professionals group board hosted by social media/marketing maven Zac Welborn. The delightfully saucy opinion taking the "No" position was submitted by a lass named Cassie Norris, who publishes a blog entitled "Bandwagoner's Guide to Golf." Interested readers can join the discussion group and read Cassie's tart commentary about the issue, but in a nutshell, she lands some well-aimed shots at the speed golf zealots who play their way through or otherwise harass anyone not ego-invested in racing through 18 in 4 hours or less. She also sends some zingers along to courses who ignore groups who apparently have all day to play golf and are planning on taking every bit of it. Her bottom line, however, is that within reason, golfers should be able to proceed at a reasonable pace, enjoy the experience, and not have to feel like the course marshal has now made them a fivesome. Not for the first time, I'm here to say that when survey respondents cite "takes too much time" as the reason they don't play golf, or don't play more, they're NOT talking about the difference between 4 hours and 4:15 to get around 18 holes. They're talking about the 4 hours-plus it takes to play 18, the travel time to and fro, some warm-up and perhaps a beer at the 19th that knocks a 5-6 hour hole in their day. THAT'S the issue, not the extra 10-15 minutes they might spend on the course waiting for the group ahead to find a ball, hole a 4th putt or perfect their pre-shot waggle. Courses can speed up play slightly with the carrot - longer tee time intervals, less penal rough, more reasonable green speeds, etc. Or they can 16 The Pellucid PersPecTive go the stick route, sending out sharp-eyed marshals eager to pounce on any minuscule gap between your group and the one ahead. Unless courses are very careful about how they communicate and enforce their preferred pace of play, they're going to alienate more people than they please, and how many courses can afford to do that these days? That particular pet peeve is one reason I was happy to hear about, and publicize, a pair of new programs that go right to the heart of the real "time" issue. (See the story on pg. 5). The two concepts, one a pay-per-hole program called Quick.golf and one a pay-for-time option called GetAway!Golf, specifically target the There will obviously be the usual naysayers who will find reasons to pooh-pooh the "short format" concepts. golfing customer whose schedule (or inclination) doesn't lend itself to half a day at the course for an 18-hole or even a 9-hole round. While neither program is likely to revolutionize the industry in terms of how "golf " has traditionally been packaged and sold, both definitely hold some potential to provide much-needed incremental revenue for course operators at minimal or no cost to them. Just as significantly, both hold some potential for helping to stem the receding participation tide, either by encouraging lapsed golfers to stick a toe back in the water a few holes at a time or by encouraging new players to sample the on-course experience without trying to swallow the full 18-hole feast right off the bat (and running the risk of a lecture from an overly zealous course marshal bent on rushing everyone through a 4-hour window). There are other potential customers among the current golfer population as well. Business travelers who find them- selves with a few hours between meetings or sales calls, major city commuters who might prefer to spend an hour or so playing a few holes rather than sitting in rush hour traffic, or anyone who unexpectedly has some time on their hands and might find a few holes on the course more invigorating than playing video games or otherwise exercising their thumbs could become customers. There will obviously be the usual naysayers who will find reasons to pooh-pooh the "short format" concepts. Some operators will kvetch over the possibility that shifty customers will sneak in a few unpaid holes, but there are some safeguards built into the systems to prevent or mitigate that, and if a few scoundrels squeeze out a few extra holes, what's the real cost to the course? Since most of the per-hole or time-based golf will be offered during slack times on the tee sheet, any revenue is essentially found money. In regard to both programs, I for one am glad to see some people addressing the real time issue - a 5 to 6 hour time block as opposed to a 15 or 20 minute pace of play savings. Whether it will catch on to any significant degree remains to be seen, but at least the thinking behind it is a lot more insightful than a broadcast full of "While we're young" ads (several featuring noted youngsters like Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood?). Good news for me As we went to press, I saw the announcement that Golfsmith and its Canadian subsidiary Golf Town are scheduled to be purchased by an investment group after approval of their respective bankruptcy reorganization proceedings. Not only is that apparently good news for the struggling golf retail industry, but it means that I've got a little more time to cash in the Golfsmith gift card I received a while back from one of our children and her family. That's assuming, however, that the San Diego Golfsmith outlet is not one of the "underperforming stores" that will be shuttered as part of the reorganization. Maybe I'd better run down there today. -Jim Dunlap September 2016 http://Quick.golf

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016

An opportune time for equipment creative disruption: Why Wilson Golf could be in Position A
Companies launch pay-per-hole, pay-for-time options
Superintendents key players in courses’ survival
Myrtle Beach market a testimony to cooperation
Golf weather impact: Aug down slightly; July utilization holds
Cardinals not the only ones in the red in St. Louis
Finally, some help for golf ’s time crunch
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 1
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - An opportune time for equipment creative disruption: Why Wilson Golf could be in Position A
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 3
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 4
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Companies launch pay-per-hole, pay-for-time options
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 6
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Superintendents key players in courses’ survival
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 8
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Myrtle Beach market a testimony to cooperation
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 10
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Golf weather impact: Aug down slightly; July utilization holds
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 12
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 13
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Cardinals not the only ones in the red in St. Louis
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 15
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Finally, some help for golf ’s time crunch
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