Time-shifting and golf

We’ve heard it over and over: “People are Time Poor.”

Over the last few years, amid declining memberships and participation, the golf industry has adopted that phrase as a scapegoat of sorts; citing “Time Poverty” as one of the main reasons why people are playing less golf.  

While I admit that I have used the phrase myself, I’ve recently come to a realisation that it is, in fact, not entirely correct.

The truth is, people are NOT really “Time Poor”.  Rather, we are merely PRIORITISING our leisure activities and commitments, and changing the way we organise and schedule the things that are important to us.  Sure, many of us are working slightly longer hours during the week, etc. But when it comes to our leisure time, most of us are choosing to identify the activities that don’t give us the maximum bang for our buck (time), then either shifting the activity to another time, spending less time on it, or eliminating that activity altogether.   

A perfect example of this is what the Television industry calls “Time Shifting”. Whereas we (as TV watchers) were once force-fed programming at a time and date that was convenient to the Broadcasters (i.e., a single episode of a show airing, say, on Thursday evenings at 8pm), TV consumers (with the aid of Digital technology like Foxtel IQ, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.,) are now watching an entire season of a show in a single evening or week (i.e. Binge-watching).  Instead of setting aside an hour each week, consumers are shifting their Television viewing to a time that is convenient to them. This essentially frees up time during the week for other activities.

How does this relate to golf?

Essentially, we consumers want a quality experience during our leisure time. If a certain activity doesn’t meet our expectations, we move that activity to a lower priority (or replace it with something more satisfying). This is precisely why we need to ensure that golfers who play on our courses and clubs get the very best experience at all times, and make golf a priority in their lives.

How do we (as golf clubs) do that?

First and foremost, we need to make golf FUN. As I’ve stated on many occasions, there is a tendency for clubs to make their courses far too difficult, in an attempt to inflate their own ego, ranking or reputation. As many of us will know, however, this just leads to frustrated golfers who eventually choose to go elsewhere to play.

We also need to stop “dictating” to golfers:  Strict dress codes, specific playing days/times (for members AND social golfers), Rigid Membership models and the like are all deterrents to enjoyment.

Then, we need to get onto our soapboxes and broadcast the benefits of golf to our local communities: tell (or remind) them about the Physical Health Benefits of golf (fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D), the exercise from waking 10-12km during a round, etc) The Mental Health Benefits (Clearing your mind from the clutter of work/technology/videogames for a full four hours, the relaxation of being surrounded by nature, etc) and the Social Benefits (Meeting new people and friends, enjoying your club’s activities—like a boardgame or trivia night—making the golf clubhouse the new Social Network, etc.)

Then, find a way to expand your club’s reach. By and large, golfers today want a variety of courses to play (vs the same course day after day), so why not strike a reciprocal deal or merger with a neighbouring club? A perfect example of this is the recent announcement by The National Golf Club, which is working on a deal with another of Australia’s top clubs, Huntingdale Golf Club.  Two of Australia’s most successful clubs, these clubs and their members understand that you cannot rest on your laurels, but instead need to continually strive forward. And by raising the overall value of their offering, these clubs are effectively raising the “priority” of the club in the members’ eyes.

By adopting a few of these examples, we can help people around the country see golf not just as a worthwhile leisure activity, but as a justifiable priority.

It’s about time.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

See you on the fairways,


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