There seems to be a buzz around golf equipment this year and while a big reason is how good the product is, another reason is the marketing strategies that companies are using.
For example, I’m impressed with what TaylorMade-adidas has been doing the past few years. They go beyond just marketing to golfers.
I remember when they first came out with the R11 driver and turned it into the foul pole at San Diego Padres games. If you go to a hockey game, you’ll see ads on the boards.
They’re great at appealing to a mass market and that piques the curiosity of even those who don’t play the game, one that has a reputation for being elitist, but baseball is the antithesis of elitism, so this type of marketing breaks down barriers.
One of the questions that we need to ask ourselves is do we grow the game by changing traditions, or do we grow the game by being staunch in our beliefs and hoping people come?
When I was at Point Roberts down in Washington, we had a dress code in which no jeans were allowed. I got rid of it because a lot of people, especially in the winter, would show up in jeans.
I didn’t think we were in a position to say, `Sorry, we don’t want your $75 because you’re wearing jeans.’
I’d rather somebody came out and played, had a beer and a hot dog afterwards and went home and told buddies. If that person brought a foursome out the next week, I didn’t really care although I might draw the line at Iron Maiden tee shirts.
Times are changing. Fifteen years ago, James Lepp wouldn’t have sold six pairs of his Kikkor golf shoes, but it’s different now and he’s doing well.
Changing traditions or keeping them alive is a tough call. If I knew jeans could be worn at a golf course that I was playing, I wouldn’t do it myself. If you know you’re at an operation where dress code applies, then you should respect your surroundings.
I don’t think traditions are being adhered to as much as they once were and the result isn’t always bad if it’s growing the game. It’s a tough call on where you draw the line between conventional thinking and opening the game up to new people.