I have no issue with the theme of this story from Adweek, just that it seems to go too far in its message.
What glares out from the article is the way marketing, web properties, digital platforms and social media is presented almost as a silver bullet for all of golf’s challenges these days.
That’s not to say all of the above is not important.
Any means you can use to deliver golf’s message to the millennials (young people if you don’t like buzz words) is something that should be studied, discussed and implemented in order to reach its maximum potential.
In order to do that, a golf operation needs to update it both in design and content and I’ve seen plenty that are static in content and haven’t received a facelift in years, almost as if, in this day and age, the operation’s website is an afterthought when it is often the first impression to the public.
Having said that, how are you going to get young people (millennials if you like buzzwords) off their cabooses and out to the golf course?
The story mentions the drawing power of young stars such as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, with their massive social media followings, but if their large followings were the key to transitioning young people from in front of their computers to the golf course, it would already be happening.
Industry veterans will recall the “Tiger effect” that was supposed to take place when Tiger Woods was becoming arguably the greatest player of all time.
Tiger was supposed to lure not only young people to the game, but young people of African descent and other ethnic backgrounds and while he did succeed in drawing eyes to PGA Tour events, most agree that the impact of Woods attracting young people to play is not what was expected.
That’s not to say that Tiger didn’t play an important role, just as McIlroy and Fowler will, but whether they’re also more likely to draw attention to the game than actually get people playing .
The article goes on to mention promotions such as one in which fans could decide where pin placements would be during the PGA Championship, but it’s strange that it compares the Instagram followers of the PGA of America to that of Major League Baseball.
The article calls the organization that Kevin Ring represents simply the PGA. Ring is actually chief marketing officer of the PGA of America and if the story wanted to compare professional sports, it would seem more relevant to compare the PGA Tour to baseball instead of an association that also represents club professionals.
It seems very apples and oranges.
As one contact said in the story, “Gorgeous advertising isn’t going to fix the brand—it’s just going to cover the blemishes.”
Gorgeous advertising doesn’t cure pace of play, affordability, accessibility and other issues discussed frequently within the industry. The other pertinent question is are the millennials (okay we’ll use the buzz word this time) the only group that golf needs to attract?
Varying opinions and needs make it a complex issue and while appealing to youngsters through social media, digital platforms and pretty pictures, you need the product to back it up.
Getting young people to the golf course is one step. Keeping them there is an even bigger step.
Also of great importance are the people newbies meet if they do decide to actually leave their computer screens or put their smartphones in their pockets.
Golf has always been about people, but more than ever, those people need a specific plan set by the operation in order to establish a fun environment.
Advertising and marketing is an important component in getting people to the golf course, but a good feeling going in may not be the same coming out. As it is in any business, the product will determine how the brand is remembered.
That requires each operation to address the issues of the day, not just cover them up.