Let’s make the most of this surge in demand
World of Golf Master professional Jon Woodroofe, sees another great opportunity for game of golf, if lessons from the past can be heeded
The game of golf lends itself to social distancing really well. Let’s be honest, how many times have you seen four players down the middle of the fairway within a metre of each other?! Or even just four balls on the fairway at the same time? So, it was not only great news, but a sensible decision, that the sport was one of the first things to be allowed back after lockdown. My, how the golfing world has benefited. I turned professional in 1979, so I remember the glory days for the sport of the mid 80’s to mid 90’s. This was when it was quicker to use an encyclopaedia than a search engine, when there were fewer distractions, more time and most importantly…… we started winning the Ryder Cup. These were the days when you had to queue in the dark to book a tee time. Days when I used to open the golf shop at 6am on a weekend morning in the dark, and see players shinning a torch on the ball so their playing partner could hit it off the first tee. Then walking up the fairway using the torch beam to find the ball. All because there were not times available to play later. I kid you not.
Golf is back in vogue
Golf is once more back in vogue. At some courses, available tee times are as rare as hen’s teeth. There are queues to get onto the golf range and more enquiries than ever from new people keen to try the sport. It is fantastic news after such a challenging period for the game. My only slight fear is that this must not go to the heads of the powers that be – those who are running golf clubs. I am aware of basic economics, supply and demand, and I am sure everyone understands that if your product is in demand you can charge more. But I worry that golf clubs seeing their membership lists expand will lead to the bad part of golf in the 80’s. I’m referring to the image of the game being elitist. When only the wealthy could afford crazy membership fees and the days when you couldn’t play unless you had a handicap. And you could not get a handicap unless you joined the expensive golf club.
At World of Golf we will continue to run our free beginners golf classes. We want to get more people into golf and help them along the journey into this sport, by partnering with local, beginner friendly shorter golf courses. Places where they can cut their teeth and gain confidence, before taking the leap of joining a golf club. We will continue to champion the “game for all” philosophy. When the pubs and restaurants reopen and all the other distractions that have reduced the number of golfers steadily over the last couple of decades return, we will still be offering this amazing value introduction to the game.
My message to the industry is simple. Please make the most of this bright surge of demand in these dark times. You may be tempted to make hay while the sun shines, but the real opportunity lies with doing everything you can to hang on to these new customers. Give them a wonderful experience. Do not exploit them.