The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 8

INDUSTRY
HEALTH?

Finally, it's curious that the PGA continues to "shill" the success of
off-course participation when it's likely a net detractor to their member base
and will increasingly in the future compete for rounds/occasions at green
grass courses which will further erode their employment anchor.
In summary, Ms. Whaley basically recites the NGF playbook
regarding all the tangential, selective facts of things that aren't
in trend decline (i.e. the last 5 years compound annual change
rate) but which are, again, unproven indicators of any type of
macro industry growth. For example, if the number of beginners
continues to climb as cited and yet the golfer base has declined
on average 3% annually, doesn't that mean that our attrition rate
is increasing at a faster rate than attraction? If latent interest
(not demand) keeps increasing at a higher rate than beginning
golfers, then it means that a large part of latent demand is habitually....latent. Pellucid figures don't show the female golfer
base growing, not even the 1% annual rate (7% over 6 years, be
still my heart!) claimed by the NGF. Finally, it's curious that the
PGA continues to "shill" the success of off-course participation
when it's likely a net detractor to their member base and will
increasingly in the future compete for rounds/occasions at green
grass courses which will further erode their employment anchor.
As Stuart pointed out in the State of the Industry, one can understand the PGA TOUR and USGA's breathless endorsement
of off-course golf; it likely does increase the odds of conversion
to "fans" but the PGA of America and NGF's endorsement and
PR work I predict will turn out to be folly based on the longterm damage it will do to their core constituencies and duespaying members.
WGF (Greg McLaughlin)
* "Examining the state of the game today in 2019, there
are positive signs that a whole new generation is getting
excited about the sport, both from a fan and participation perspective."
* Fan engagement is at an all-time high, due, in part, to
the myriad of vehicles in which fans may interact with
the sport." (I forget, what is the charter of WGF, what
business are they in and how are they different from the
NGF?)
* This [fan] outreach is showing results. There are 24M
"traditional" golfers in the United States, and another
15M have said they are very interested in playing, which
is an all-time high. Last year 2.6M people tried golf
for the first time. Off-course participation continues
to grow at a rapid pace with another 23M experiencing the game at off-course venues." (at least everyone
has NGF's "party line" straight and they're all selecting
pretty much the same figures; that couldn't possibly be
because the NGF Editorial Director is moderating the
session, could it?)
In summary, Mr. McLaughlin also believes that the more
media vehicles that are employed against the general popula-

8 The Pellucid PersPecTive

tion touting the professional game and that exciting tournaments and "inside the ropes" content about professional golfers, their equipment, their diet habits, their emotional struggles
and instructional tips are the catalyst to converting "watchers"
to "triers". Despite the fact that there is no historical, quantitative, correlative evidence to this being the case over the
past 15 years (when the TOUR and TV golf has moved to
successive heights while the general game in terms of rounds,
participants, revenue, courses, profitability, club manufacturer
economic health etc. have declined and struggled), the WGF
is entitled to its opinion and optimism using the barometer of
"increased excitement."
I shared the link to this article to an associate who's a veteran
golf industry writer and I chuckled at his poignant response,
"This is why I'm getting out of the golf writing profession for Act
II of my life." While I've learned over the years that one cannot be completely transparent and forthcoming with the general
media when they decide to "peek" into our industry on occasion,
lest that turn into a headline about the existential threats facing
golf (if I see another clever headline about "golf being in the
rough" I think I'm going to puke), putting lipstick on the proverbial pig as done for this Forbes infomercial is equally unhelpful.
If they want to write about the healthy fortune and bright future
for golf media and entertainment (and invite the PGA TOUR,
USGA and PGA of America for their tournament/sponsorship
components), that would be a great story and possibly of interest to the Forbes financially-enlightened readers (unfortunately
they can't invest in any of those entities which are all, ironically, non-profits). If they want to write about the growth in
off-course engagement and the phenomenon of TopGolf and
its increasing number of clones and spin-offs (TopTracer range,
BigShots Golf lounges etc.), that would be a fun and compelling
growth story and wouldn't involve any of the industry trade associations as subject matter experts.
Finally, if they want to write about the core industry of golf,
they should get representatives from the major stakeholders (successful single-course owners, multi-course operators, golf consumer equipment leaders, golf course equipment suppliers and
those of us who track the widest range of macro health metrics)
vs. the industry association heads-of-state who are so far removed
from the core industry that they don't even know what the core
metrics are. Contrary to popular belief, that forum wouldn't produce an all gloom-and-doom picture of golf but I can guarantee you that it would be quite different and more accurate than
the State of the Industry portrayed here. I would also propose
that this would be of more benefit to Forbes readers/the general
population as well as be more instructive to us collectively in the
industry trying to figure out what needs to change and how to
chart a path to a brighter core industry future.
n
May 2019



The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019

TOC
ORCA + weather impact yields new, encouraging Phoenix insights
Industry associations see blue skies, green fields
Public companies have less leeway to “fudge” numbers
April: Solid up, but beats a “soft comp”
Mar Utilization: Flat rounds wastes positive weather
“We’re #2,” chasing San Diego
MCO Consolidation & New Formats Mushroom
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - TOC
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - ORCA + weather impact yields new, encouraging Phoenix insights
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 3
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 4
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - Industry associations see blue skies, green fields
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 6
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 7
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 8
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - Public companies have less leeway to “fudge” numbers
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - April: Solid up, but beats a “soft comp”
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 11
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - Mar Utilization: Flat rounds wastes positive weather
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 13
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - “We’re #2,” chasing San Diego
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - 15
The Pellucid Perspective - May 2019 - MCO Consolidation & New Formats Mushroom
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