Once upon a time, there was a young child who loved golf, which he discovered through caddying for his Dad.
Surrounded by nature, beautifully-kept gardens, the elegant clubhouse and immaculate course conditions, he would revel in the little cottage sized building known as the professional’s shop.
With his youthful hands, he waggled clubs, took strokes with putters and longed for the day when his skills equaled those required to earn a big bag with his name etched on the side.
Frequently found within these walls was the golf professional and his team of golf fanatics. They talked golf, dreamed golf, ate golf and slept golf. Where else could a fellow convert enjoy spending time more?
Strangely none of these entities prepares an aspiring golfer for some of the decisions he will face as a golfer.
You see, playing golf and enjoying the game’s atmosphere, its camaraderie and its domain has nothing to do with the business of golf.
As a golfer, one is required to decide which courses to play, which course to join and/or which course or courses to own. Should they join a member-owned club or an equity situation? What if they find themselves in a position where their club might be sold?
In the beginning all they wanted was to be golfers and suddenly, they are faced with several major decisions.
Would you vote for moving the membership and purchasing a new club before you accept your windfall or would you take as much as you could and look around for a new club to join?
What about people who are secondary shareholders (inherited) who don’t play golf, but are entitled to their fair share. Do you expect them to contribute to buying or building a new club when they don’t even play golf?.
You also have to decide whether the business of golf can benefit you and/or your company financially.
The decision making hierarchy at RBC are in the position of considering the business of golf as a future investment. Several years ago, they did decide to invest significantly in one advertising/promotional golf venture called the PGA Tour and jumped in with both feet.
They played all the right cards investing in specific, key tour players who had great crowd appeal and who could entertain their clients, be guaranteed to enter their PGA tournaments and generally fly the RBC flag without cause for concern.
All of this came while RBC was expanding its investment banking portfolio, growing its credit card business and entering the age of electronic banking. Each ties nicely with golfers who are seen to have slightly higher than average incomes, education and travel opportunities.
On the horizon, the renewal dates of their PGA Tour contracts are looming within the next three years.
Banking has changed over the past decade as has society and the global economy. So, what will the golfers at RBC do? How will they get the most for their investment money out of golf? They did very well during the last 10 years, but it will be interesting to see how they approach the next 10.
Have they tipped their hand with the recent signing of a Team RBC contract with Jason Day? Golf administrators should be watching closely for any innovations or indications of how major players like RBC regard the future of golf.
Think green in terms of golf and dollars.