Last month, I made the trek to Orlando, Florida, for the massive PGA Merchandise Show. Over four full days, I walked the “miles” of aisles, and sampled hundreds upon hundreds of products.
One thing I noticed while touring this behemoth of a golf show, is that the level of innovation in the golf products industry is ramping up. Technology is front and centre, and there are so many innovative offerings available it made my head spin. Every part of the game is undergoing a monumental transformation, from the humble golf tee all the way through to the high-tech GPS and Laser rangefinders, there is HEAPS of technology available to help us all play better, and enjoy the game more.
As an example, Bushnell Golf introduced the Wingman; a combination GPS device and boom box/personal speaker. Now, you can drive your cart up to your ball, listening to your favourite music, and get your distances to the green. It was one of the most talked-about products at the show. So too was the Finn Scooter, which is essentially a golf buggy in the guise of an electric motorbike. Sleek and snazzy, it oozes fun, and it had tongues wagging at the show. Another great innovation comes from Club Car, with their Golf4Fun product: a four-person golf cart that is tailored for a family: two adults in the front, two kids in the back, and all four bags in the rear.
It was (as always) a truly eye-opening experience. (Be sure to check our full writeup in next month’s issue).
Unfortunately, this same level of excitement and innovation is NOT matched when it comes to many of our country’s golf clubs and courses.
Many clubs (and members) still grasp at old-fashioned principles. For every forward-thinking club in Australia that adopts/welcomes Gender Neutrality, there are likely a dozen that continue to eschew the idea of women playing on a Saturday. For every modern club that initiates a family-friendly culture (and memberships), there are a dozen that dig in their heels and resist welcoming junior golfers. For every smart club that welcomes technology like GPS/Rangefinders, fun golf carts/boards, computerised scoring, and fun/modern golf attire, there are dozens more that cling to manual scoring, banning mobile phones and personal golf carts, and insisting upon the old chestnut of a standard collared shirt, white socks and subdued colours/logos.
As we all know, the Golf Industry is struggling to attract the next generation of players. Generation Z and the Millennials are our key market—and these segments are highly enticed/addicted to technology (in fact, these generations know no other world than the high-tech world), yet clubs (not to mention our governing bodies) fail to acknowledge this, as they desperately grasp onto a belief that golf was fine in the good-ol’ days, so it should be good today.
Now, more than ever before, we need to open our eyes and embrace the new products, ideas and technology, or risk falling even further behind.
To succeed, golf must adapt to society. Because, let’s face it, society will not adapt for golf.
As always, I welcome your comments
See you on the fairways,
(Story originally appeared in Inside Golf)