In a setting such as the PGA Merchandise Show, which gets underway Thursday morning, there is no shortage of opinion about the challenges facing golf, particularly participation.
“The most important thing we can do as an industry is to grow participation,” said Nike Golf president Cindy Davis on Wednesday at Demo Day.
“We’ve been told the same three things about the experience of golf for at least the last decade — it takes a lot of time, it’s hard and it costs a lot,” she said.
Identifying the problem is one thing. Doing something about it is another.
“We haven’t done anything to really change anything, to really change that experience, for fear that that experience will be compromised when, in fact, I passionately believe you can create another experience with golf as we know it today,” she said.
That could be coming Thursday morning when Jack Nicklaus, the PGA of America and other industry types unveil Golf 2.0, a new initiative to grow participation. According to Davis, she’s behind programs such as Play It Forward and others, but the main thing is to take action.
“What that (new) experience looks like from a time standpoint, from an ease of play standpoint, from a cost standpoint, there are a lot of great ideas out there to address it. What needs to happen is the industry needs to galvanize behind one idea,” said Davis.
“I think we need to get behind, just like you do with any product, and brand something and almost bless it in a way that it is golf and people believe it’s golf, even though it might be an alternative form of golf,” she said.
“That’s where it starts and I think the serious nature of that has gone up a level,” she said, adding that the alternatives to traditional golf might involve new rules, products or even course set-up.
“If we don’t do something like that, I’m not sure there’s going to be the vibrancy that we need in the sport because of the way the culture, the world and society is changing,” said Davis.
“I’m not sure what the wake-up call needs to be with the industry to really do that and put aside other agendas and self-interests,” she said.
GNN will be asking other industry leaders in Orlando for their thoughts on growing the game.