The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 16

THE LAST WORD

Faster carts not the answer to golf 's problems

I

suspect that many of you are on the
email list and at least occasionally
read the frequent posts of an intriguing publication called My Golf Spy. My
Golf Spy's primary reason for being is to
keep golfers and those of us in the industry aware of the latest developments
in the golf equipment side of the business, and to provide a commercially unbiased evaluation of the respective merits
of new equipment offerings. Periodically,
however, they stray from the test lab and
the practice range to tackle an issue that
makes identifying the best fairway metal
for the money look like child's play.
A recent post by staff writer Chris
Nickel was entitled "While we're young
- solving the pace of play issue." The author posited a few suggestions, some serious and some which I hope were tongue
in cheek, such as providing souped up
single rider golf carts capable of speeds
up to 20 mph or more to literally speed
up the game. He also touched on some
old stand-bys, such as multiple tee sets
spaced far enough apart according to skill
level, age or sex to make the course more
manageable for everyone, shorter rough
to cut down on time spent looking for
wayward balls, longer tee time intervals,
etc. He also tossed a bone in the direction of recreational golf, recommending
relaxed rules and even treading dangerously close to the dreaded bifurcation
word for amateur and professional play.
Refreshingly, Nickel admitted that he did
not have the solution to speeding up pace
of play, a conclusion that he says should
be shared by the ruling bodies of golf, or
has been to date.
While I agree with some of Nickel's
conclusions regarding ways to (slightly)
speed up play on the courses where the
majority of golf is played, namely public
courses, I disagree with the post's premise, which is that pace of play is the game's
number one problem, particularly when it
comes to attracting the Millennial crowd.
I know I've beaten this drum before, but
pace of play is just NOT golf 's biggest
problem, folks, and it's also not the biggest barrier to attracting the age 20-40
crowd. The game is inherently a rather

16 The Pellucid PersPecTive

leisurely paced form of sport/recreation.
An 18-hole round of golf is going to take
all but the most committed zealots determined to zip through in 3.5 hours at least
4 hours, and most folks have no problem
with that. Nor do they care if the round
is 4:15 or 4:45 as long as the pace moves
and there are no interminable delays between shots, which is generally a function
of efficient course marshaling and, perhaps, course setup. Golf is a commitment
of time, and it always will be.
As for the Millennials and their fascination with instant gratification, trying
to sell them on a round that's designed
to be completed in 4 hours rather than

As for the Millennials
and their fascination with
instant gratification, trying
to sell them on a round
that's designed to be
completed in 4 hours rather
than 4:30 or more isn't
likely to impress them, at
least until they become the
elusive avid golfer.
4:30 or more isn't likely to impress them,
at least until they become the elusive avid
golfer. Now, a 2 hour 9-hole round or an
even more abbreviated time commitment
such as the pay-by-hole model of Quick.
golf, that might fit into their schedules,
especially if they can bring their electronics and needn't worry about the collar on
their shirts or the number of pockets in
their shorts.
Golf 's biggest problem is declining participation, not slow play. Someone who is considering giving the game
a whirl doesn't even know how long an
18-hole round of golf takes to play, for
crying out loud, much less the difference
between 4:15 and 4:45. Whereas some
people in the industry have suggested
that equilibrium in terms of golf course

supply and customer demand may not be
too far down the road as courses close at
approximately 10 times the number of
openings, a declining customer base will
delay the time when supply and demand
align. While that might work out fine for
those courses and clubs able to stay the
course in today's ultra-competitive times,
suppliers to the industry (not to mention
PGA of America professionals) would
much prefer that more golfers take up the
game and become customers for equipment, apparel and technology, and more
courses are able to keep their doors open
and continue to buy goods and services to
support their business.
Golf truly does seem to doing a decent
job of offering access to the game. In recent years, an acceptable number of new
players have come through the game's
front door via Get Golf Ready, PGA
Junior Leagues, The First Tee and other
gateways. The game's problems have
come from attrition, with more people
leaving the game than taking it up. To
my knowledge, nobody has cracked the
code on the reason for that. One partial
solution seems likely to be better customer relations management, or CRM,
designed to let existing golf course customers know that they are valued, and to
continually update them on events, promotions or opportunities to entice them
to come out to the course or club. That
would seem to be a no-brainer, but research by Pellucid and others has consistently found that too many courses give
CRM short shrift if they dedicate any
effort at all to it. It doesn't take much to
make current customers feel valued. Just
as a restaurant might reach out to former
patrons with an offer of a free appetizer, a
golf course could offer a similar incentive
such as a free bucket of balls or a drink in
the 19th hole. It doesn't take much, and
small things like that could conceivably
result in an extra round at the course or
more dramatically, prevent your customer
from playing elsewhere, or not at all.
In any case, while maintaining a reasonable pace of play is always a good idea
if done correctly, it will not solve golf 's
problems in and of itself. -Jim Dunlap
September 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017

TOC
Is TopGolf going to save us?
Golf Tours and Solutions ups the ante in Myrtle Beach
Municipal golf remains in the crosshairs: From Tucson AZ to Buffalo Grove IL
NGCOA hosts first industry Technology conference in 20 years
August golf weather impact: 2nd consecutive month of positive “comps”!
Barring hurricanes, Miami golf market in decent shape
Faster carts not the answer to golf’s problems
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - TOC
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - Is TopGolf going to save us?
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 3
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 4
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - Golf Tours and Solutions ups the ante in Myrtle Beach
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - Municipal golf remains in the crosshairs: From Tucson AZ to Buffalo Grove IL
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 7
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 8
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - NGCOA hosts first industry Technology conference in 20 years
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - August golf weather impact: 2nd consecutive month of positive “comps”!
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 11
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 12
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - Barring hurricanes, Miami golf market in decent shape
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 14
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - 15
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2017 - Faster carts not the answer to golf’s problems
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