Businesses are constantly reinventing themselves to keep up with the latest in technology and trends in society that are easily accepted by some, but not so much by others.
Golf is no different and judging by what happened in 2015, the industry will soon be facing issues, some of which might be expected, but many of which never would have been predicted just a few short years ago.
So, we went to readers for their thoughts on such issues through the GNN Poll.
The rise to prominence of Caitlyn Jenner, for example, put the spotlight on transgender rights, including those at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where Jenner is a member.
The law will inevitably decide what a transgender person’s rights are in respect to locker room, shower and washroom facilities, but even if someone is allowed to use the facilities of the gender of which the person identifies with, how will that sit with members/players who are still uncomfortable with the idea.
Some will say that the people who object will just have to get used to the idea, but the golf operation is still likely to hear about it should the situation arise.
Will golf operations be prepared for such a case? Not according to a GNN Poll from last summer.
Are golf operations moving quickly enough to properly deal with any potential issues faced by transgender players?
While there was a time that somebody smoking pot on the golf course might have justifiably been thrown off the golf course, one of the promises of the victorious Liberals in last year’s election was to legalize marijuana.
That brings up some interesting questions from a golf course perspective.
Will patrons or members be able to fire up a doobie on the golf course if they so desire? Will the golf operation treat marijuana like cigarettes and restrict them to certain places? What about the objections of others who are a little more old school on the use of pot in public places? Then again, can you ban it if you serve alcohol?
The fact is that governments still seem unsure on how the legalization of marijuana will be rolled out, but they will soon have to deal with it, as will businesses such as golf courses. A GNN Poll indicates that the industry is willing to sit on this issue until it has a clearer picture.
Considering that marijuana could be legalized in Canada, how quickly should golf operations be moving to establishing policies on its use on property?
Wait until legalization takes place 48%
Should be happening now 27%
Even with legalization, it won’t become an issue 25%
Of course, new products were emerging in 2015, not the least of which were GolfBoards, a mode of transportation much different than traditional golf carts that allow players to surf the golf course with their clubs.
Will they last? We thought we’d check the level of interest in GolfBoards through the following GNN Poll.
How would you describe the interest level of the operation where you work towards investing in GolfBoards?
None whatsoever 36%
Limited at best 32%
Extremely interested 32%
Golf also needs to increase its efforts to attract millennials, according to Greg Norman who, in September, told the Australian Financial Review that “we’ve really got to get our crap together.”
One of the Canadian golf courses that apparently agrees with Norman is the new Links at Brunello in Halifax, which opened in the summer, allowing denim on the golf course, music to be played and golf carts that held more than two people.
The reaction of readers to the Links at Brunello was captured in the following GNN Poll.
Which statement best describes your opinion of the Links at Brunello in Halifax allowing music and denim on the course, as well as adding other non-traditional aspects of the game?
Good for them. The game has waited far too long to adapt to today’s society 60%
It’s not for me, but more power to them if it works 29%
It’s going too far 11%
Having said that, there is a long way to go in the industry’s efforts to attract young people, families and women, according to another GNN Poll.
In general, is golf loosening up and making a greater effort to appeal to young people, families and women?
One of the ways that some golf courses are trying to lure new golfers to their facilities or make better use of down time is through the implementation of foot golf, a soccer-golf hybrid, that is becoming popular at a growing number of operations, but has also drawn the scorn of traditionalists.
We asked readers if there has been any discussion at their places of employment about introducing foot golf
Has the golf operation where you’re employed had any discussion about introducing foot golf?
We already have foot golf 21%
As society changes, new challenges are coming at the game meteorically and golf’s need – and willingness – to adapt will surely be tested over and over again in 2016 and beyond.