As 19th century author George Borrow once wisely stated …
”Youth will be served, every dog has his day, and mine has been a fine one.”
A lot of the old dogs in the golf industry have seen fine days and before arguing that you’re far from old, I include myself in that category. Old, in this reference, doesn’t suggest chronological age, but experience and despite the opinion of some, there’s great value to the wisdom gained from years in the business.
Having said that, there is always room for fresh ideas to blend in with time-honoured practices that have gotten your facility to where it is today.
The combined wisdom of the ages doesn’t always prepare us for what’s ahead, the challenges that stem from a new generation which may have a comparatively short time on earth compared to your own, but lives different lives and spots new trends that are valuable to your business, if not now then going forward.
A valuable and perhaps untapped resource may be operating in your pro shop or backshop, or driving around on the beverage cart, quite willing but perhaps afraid to rock the boat and offer something different to somebody who has seen fine days in the golf industry, perhaps fearing that person doesn’t want to let go of the glory days.
Somebody who has been around the industry for even 10 to 15 years will recall vividly the golden days of the 1990s when golf was at its peak, thanks in part to the arrival of Tiger Woods and its position in popular culture, with movies such as Tin Cup and Happy Gilmore, not to mention the introduction of the Golf Channel.
While it may cause a warm fuzzy to reflect back on those days, it may be a detriment if we allow them to determine how we operate in a different era today when the game is struggling with its own identity and where it’s headed.
Granted, tradition works better at some clubs more than others and there’s a lot to be said for the overall economy’s effect on the game these days, but the game that still counts heavily on its core golfers who, generally speaking, are roughly the same age as those currently running the show at golf operations.
We’re in a comfort zone relating to those our own age, but that principle isn’t exclusive to people over the age of 40. In an age when golf is or should be looking to resonate with the 25 to 40 age group, or aiming to swell its junior ranks, why not go straight to the source, especially if they’re already on the payroll?
We’re not talking about putting them in charge – just respecting what they have to say and perhaps even putting some of their ideas into practice.
• In the never-ending debate about dress codes in golf, would a chat with a young staff member offer some perspective on what might appeal to possible core golfers that are a generation behind you? It doesn’t need to be radical, but would cargo shorts on the golf course be that distasteful? No harm, no foul if you at least initiate discussion with someone from that age group.
• Sticking with fashion, check out the duds worn by Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and other young guys on the PGA Tour or the styles worn by young women on the LPGA Tour. Would it hurt expanding your apparel selections with input from young people on your staff who may even enjoy attending a buying show with you.
• With computers playing such an important roles in their lives, young people on staff are quite likely linked in to Facebook, Twitter or any social media that may offer a valuable means to get your message out to the public if you haven’t done so already.
• While they may be beyond junior years, young people on staff are close enough to that age group that they can see what appeals to teenagers and that input could have a connection to the programs you initiate.
Those are just a few of the ways that picking the minds of young people can benefit your business at a time when the world is changing rapidly. Back in the ‘90s, did you ever expect to be getting your emails off a cell phone or texting somebody you needed right away?
Don’t expect that evolution to slow down in the next 10 years and how quickly you adapt will have a big impact on how you attract new core golfers to replace or join the ones we count on so heavily today.
The young pups will have their day as well, but inviting them to the party now may very well continue your own day in a positive way. If nothing else, it will instill confidence in a young person by making them feel a part of the group effort towards success.