In recent years there has been a lot of press around the shrinking popularity of golf. Many reasons have been given, but a few of the most common are the cost of equipment, the lack of time in a busy schedule, the difficulty of the sport and the well-publicized fall of the game’s most popular superstar, Tiger Woods.
However, according to the National Golf Foundation, golf’s participation base remains stable. The number of people who played golf on a course in 2017 remained unchanged since the year before (23.8 million), and an additional 8.3 million played at off-course facilities like Topgolf, driving ranges or indoor simulators. In addition, the number of U.S. non-golfers who said they are “very interested” in playing at a golf course hit a new measured high, and helped boost the number of golf newcomers for the fourth year in a row.
All of this is good news for companies that want to reach a wide variety of potential customers. Golf isn’t limited to middle-age executives, as some may imagine. Consider the statistics:
- Juniors (6-17) and young adults (18-34) comprise more than 37% of all on-course golfers. These groups make up 69% of the off-course only participant pool.
- There are 5.8 million women who played golf on a course in 2017. Women account for 24% of the on-course golfer base and 41% of off-course only play.
- Newcomers to golf are increasingly diverse: 35% are female, 26% are non-Caucasian and 70% are under the age of 35.
The variety of branded merchandise that is available for these groups is as diverse as the players themselves. The classic golf staples are always good – branded golf balls, towels, hats and divot tools. But for today’s eco conscious younger players, it’s good to consider more earth-friendly options.
- Reusable water bottles for those that have eschewed disposable one-time-use plastic bottles
- Dissolvable corn starch tees
- Organic cotton polos and hats
- Recycled golf balls
- Recyclable golf pad & pen combo
Spring is around the corner, and the game of golf is going strong. It’s time to start planning for your next golf giveaway.
According to data cited by the Wall Street Journal, golf participation rates among the 18-to-34 crowd (defined as the millennials) were down 13% in 2013 from 2009, while rates for active sports like running jumped 29%. In 2013 alone, some 400,000 people gave up the sport in the U.S., according to the National Golf Foundation. But now, we have youthful champions like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Their high profile wins have brought welcome attention to a game that desperately needs a way to connect with the millennials populating and influencing corporate culture.
Millennials, also known as GenY, were born into a new era of technology and founded the social media movement. How a company – golf market agents or any other company – markets to a demographic that thrives in this fast-paced, ever-changing technological fray is an ongoing uncertainty in the business world. In order to draw them into a game that requires 4+ hours of time, expensive gear and and an income that can allow for greens fees that can easily exceed $40 for 18 holes, companies must incorporate tools that support and enhance their tech experience. (I must add here that the snowsports industry, another expensive, time-consuming pastime, is facing the same challenges with millennials).
What marketing tools would drive excitement for a game struggling to stay relevant while increasing brand visibility for your firm? Read on for a few ideas on how to integrate golf, social media and the millennials.
- Selfie Snapper: Wireless bluetooth remote for snapping pictures on a smartphone. Great for post-round pics of the foursome.
- Silicone Phone Backstrap: Holds credit cards, license, cash on the back of a phone, giving the recipient a useful reminder of the giver every time he texts, tweets or talks.
- GPS Rangefinder: Handheld or on the wrist, a touchscreen, bluetooth-enabled tool for saving strokes will appeal to those players who don’t have time to walk off the yardage.
- Microfiber Cell Phone Bag Pouch: Holds the phone – cleans the phone. Taking care of the millennial golfers most prized tool will be appreciated well after the last hole.
The game of golf is here to stay, but the new generation of golfers will expect to experience it in different ways. Give them something in their gift bag they can relate to besides that sleeve of balls. They will reward you with appreciation for your foresight and your brand.