The past few blogs have been devoted to how the industry sees itself through the GNN Poll and we noticed a few trends that have the potential to emerge in 2012 and beyond.
The Canadian trade shows, for example, have been the source of controversy for years, with only Alberta consistently able to keep its exhibitors happy through dedication to viewing and buying.
Equipment manufacturers and apparel companies have repeatedly talked about lack of traffic and tire-kickers at the shows, which they maintained did not produce a suitable return on investment.
The past few years, what were big booth shows have evolved into pipe-and-drape affairs, but this year, this ongoing controversy went a step further.
Both Ontario and British Columbia offered to move their shows to August in order to accommodate the early orders now required of apparel companies.
The Canadian Golf Industry Association wanted some guarantees and asked the associations to guarantee a certain number of buyers at the respective shows.
The Ontario PGA show was cancelled altogether and we’ll see what comes of that in 2012. Meanwhile, B.C. offered to meet the CGIA request and did just that in a new location in Richmond, B.C.
However, the GNN Poll wondered about the future of such trade shows. Here’s what respondents said:
Are golf shows dying?
The strong will survive. 27%
Discounting has been considered a dirty word among golf course operators, even when affordability is so often mentioned as a reason for people not playing, at least not as much as they might have in the past.
It appears, however, that discounting is a reality, whether it be through clever methods such as packaging, or through more obvious means.
Has the golf business where you work started lowering prices more than normal, whether it’s through package deals or blatant discounting?
However, if green fees/memberships and other revenue sources are coming down, something has to give on the costs side of the ledger.
Although pristine conditions are one of the factors that set the hearts of golf course rankers a-flutter, we wondered if golf course operators might consider a more natural look, similar to many in Europe as opposed to the perfection they strive for in North America.
Which statement below reflects your feeling about scaling back on your course conditioning and passing any savings in maintenance costs along to the people paying for green fees/memberships.
Economics may force us to do it whether we like it or not. 44%
Golfers will welcome a lower price and we’re not hurting ourselves. 22%
The savings wouldn’t be enough for a noticeable reduction in fees. 15%
Lower standards will reflect negatively on the operation. 11%
It still looks like discounting. The industry shouldn’t go down that road. 8%
Besides affordability, time is often cited as a big reason that people don’t play the game often or not at all. Four to four-and-a-half hours at the minimum for 18 holes is a big chunk of the day, particularly for those working or pressed for time with other endeavours.
The Hamilton Golf and Country Club, the site of this year’s RBC Canadian Open, opened a new short course for play last year and it’s been a popular addition, not only for members looking to get in a quick round, but also junior players who can’t always get on the big course.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., Troon North and The Boulders, both popular resort courses, have worked executive courses into their existing layouts, the idea being to offer a quick round and to draw visiting golfers in with their families. You can read that blog here.
So, the GNN Poll asked readers what they thought of the emergence of short courses. The response was one-sided.
Would short courses, either separate or part of an existing layout, be a positive step forward for golf?
In October, GNN blogger Tiffany Gordon voiced her concern here about golfers not trying to improve their games through lessons in this contribution.
During a conversation with renowned European mind coach Karl Morris, who has worked with the likes of British Open champ Darren Clarke and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, we got talking old school.
Morris suggested that lessons may become more attractive again through playing lessons between teachers and students out on the golf course, refining not only the golf swing but course management, as well.
Of course, playing lessons were common when golf was more of a private club game, but over the years, golf professionals were stretched thin through their involvement in other aspects of an operation.
So, the GNN Poll asked readers what they thought of a return to this old school way of teaching. Generally, the idea got a positive reaction.
What’s your attitude towards playing lessons?
It’s a great way to generate interest in instruction. 53%
It may be necessary despite the challenges. 22%
We don’t have the time and it isn’t cost-effective. 13%
We already do them regularly. 12%
Being Canadians, we love to complain about the weather, but the golf industry had good reason this year, with inclement weather delaying the start of the season in many parts of the country in 2011.
Many in the golf industry have voiced the opinion that the season is starting later than usual on the front end, but seems to be lasting longer in the fall. So, we tested that theory through the GNN Poll and the results were close.
Are late starts to the golf season something that the golf industry is going to have to deal with?
No, it’s just temporary. 52%
Yes, they’re here to stay. 48%
Judging by the above responses, people within the industry are at least considering changes in pricing strategies, course design and conditioning as golf continues to evolve with changing times.