I have just come back from one of the most interesting, engaging events I have ever attended. Even I am surprised! I didn’t think that the Golf Business and Industry Convention (GolfBIC) at BTME would be for me simply because as my friend put it it’s for “the other side of the business”. In a nutshell it’s for the people behind the scenes – the ones who keep the facility in shape or worry about the state it’s in.

At first sight it was the “sausage fest” I expected (as described by one of the speakers – not me of course). What I hadn’t anticipated was the buoyant mood of the presenters, exhibitors and delegates. Jay Karen, CEO of the USA’s National Golf Course Owners Association, had a big impact on me and my fellow delegates bringing these facts to our attention:

• Golf is NOT in decline: There are 24.1 MILLION golfers in America. That’s a lot of people!
• 2 million people started playing golf in the USA last year. It’s had YOY growth since 2011.
• There are really easy lucrative wins out there: the untapped women’s market is valued at $35 billion worldwide with $3.6 billion in the UK & Ireland.

American Golf went on to share the secrets of their successes and future plans to make golf easier to access and more affordable. I am biased (we work for them!) but in the last three years they have actively gone out to find new customers and that includes finding new golfers.

The last session of the day was the one that highlighted the problems. Facility owners are angry. They feel miss or under represented. No one is in charge. There is no guiding light. Still. England Golf still don’t understand that women don’t need a special month (we should be special EVERY DAY! Just like the rest of you). And that goes for you too National Golf Month.

We learnt that Sport England is about to change its funding policy in order to meet government targets of curtailing the decline in participation. This means no money for finding new players. Only cash for keeping the ones we have.

Why can’t all the bodies in golf sit in a room together and come up with ONE plan with agreed targets and a vehicle to get there? We do this with our clients. It’s not that hard. I don’t think there was a single person in the room who wasn’t embarrassed when the heads of England Golf and the UKGCOA had to admit in front of their US and European equivalents that this has never been done before.

Nicole Wheatley Director Medi8
Nicole Wheatley Director Medi8

 

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