One of the more poignant and well-read blogs on GNN in 2011 was this one from Kyle German.
Normally lighthearted and gregarious, Kyle was seriously considering his future and the possibility of getting out of the golf industry, not an uncommon consideration among those who, all things being equal, would prefer to stay.
Golf and the business that surrounds it has traditionally been about people and it warms the heart to see people such as renowned golf professionals Gar Hamilton and Warren Crosbie retire late last year after spending their entire lives in the game.
These lifers in golf have earned the accolades that have come their way.
As we look back at 2011 through the GNN Poll, you have to wonder how many in the future will make golf the career of a lifetime and if there is no security or personal fulfillment, how will that affect things such as work ethic and attitude?
In June, the GNN Poll asked readers how rampant apathy is in the golf industry and the results indicated that apathy has indeed reached considerable proportions.
Thirty nine per cent of respondents said that apathy is taking over, slightly more than the 37 per cent who said the people who care about the industry are still the majority.
Meanwhile, 24 per cent said that the people who care/don’t care is about even.
An unpredictable economy, flat participation rates and unpredictable weather may be contributing to apathy, but certainly, morale may be affected by uncertain futures within the golf industry.
For example, when the GNN Poll asked what were the chances of somebody getting into golf now making it to the end of their careers in the same industry, 60 per cent said fair, while 25 per cent said there was no chance.
Only 11 per cent said the chances of somebody making it start to finish in the golf industry were good and four per cent said that person’s chances were excellent.
It’s little wonder then that Kyle — and there are others — are weighing their options these days.
Despite concern for their futures, 82 per cent of respondents said in a GNN Poll in March that work is becoming increasingly more invasive on their family/personal time.
Despite the fact that 88 per cent of respondents in another GNN Poll felt that the golf industry was short-sighted as opposed to visionary, half of respondents in yet another poll felt inhibited when it came to voicing their opinions.
Going by the numbers above, there is little job security from the get-go in the golf industry and, despite work taking up so much time in their lives, many felt they couldn’t voice an opinion on matters that affect their lives.
If they make it that far, what shape will they be in as their careers wind down? The GNN Poll asked a couple of questions about that in the fall.
When the GNN Poll asked in September if readers had pushed back their retirement dates, 46 per cent said they had never set a retirement date, while 46 per cent said they had pushed it back.
Only eight per cent said they hadn’t pushed back their retirement dates.
So, the GNN Poll asked whether it was because of economic reasons or simply enjoying what they do that they had pushed back their retirement dates or not even set one.
Fifty nine per cent said they couldn’t afford to retire, while 41 per cent said they just enjoyed what they do and wanted to keep going for as long as possible.
It’s that passion for the game that has traditionally motivated lifers in the industry, but it’s becoming clear that lifers aren’t as plentiful anymore through lack of job security, the belief that they aren’t being heard or that they won’t be ready for retirement.
There will always be financial limitations on how much an operation can invest in its employees and these are challenges that can be applied to other industries, as well.
In the end, do we want good people in place as golf pushes through turbulent times, or do we want them bailing not only for better compensation, but also job security and employers who will listen?
It’s a question worth considering on an individual basis because one of golf’s biggest challenges these days may not be external influences such as the economy, participation and weather.
It a factor that is striking from within through apathy.
In our next blog, we’ll take a look at emerging trends in the golf industry through the GNN Poll.