The changing needs of golfers and functions of the courses and facilities they use will be a hot topic at the upcoming Golf Business Forum.
Andrew Davies, course owner and one of the speakers at the groundbreaking forum to be held in Melbourne on July 25-26, said the need to engage “fans” was paramount in developing the next generation of golfers.
Speaking on the Sportsgeek podcast of fellow forum presenter Sean Callanan, Davies said the days of waiting for the next wave of champion-inspired interest, a la Greg Norman three decades ago, were over despite huge interest in the global game.
“There’s a real passion for it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate in the same way it used to into people dusting off the clubs,” said Davies, a co-founder of forum developer Well Played consultancy.
“What’s of interest to us is how people are participating now and the new formats of golf that are driving people to pick up a golf club.
“It means … if I’m a traditional golf course, how can I offer a way for people to engage with my facility and business that isn’t necessarily just 18 holes of golf?
“The first wave of change was the introduction of high-quality public golf experiences. What’s needing to happen at a greater rate is these facilities need to start engaging with the fans and that’s where the golf industry has been a bit slow to adapt.
“It needs to be … `Why are you engaging?’ and when you do engage, bring down a group of mates make a day of it and here’s the additional things we can do to make this day fantastic and memorable.
“And after that day we want to engage with you, online in particular, to share the word about what a great day out you had.
“That’s fan engagement … and I use that word `fan’ deliberately, because people tend to be fans of golf courses … sometimes it’s whether you had a good score, but often to do with if you had a great day or were on a great course.
“We as an industry need to do a lot better, look to the leadership of the pro sports, particularly some of this stuff in the (United States).”
Guy Chapple, Davies’ partner at WellPlayed, said many of the key players in the Australian golf industry had never had the chance to share information, ideas and opportunities in the same venue.
“What we hope is that by coming together, these owners and operators will be able to help drive the industry’s direction and share their success through collaboration,” Chapple said.
“In our roles, we’ve travelled around the country to a whole range of different types of facilities and the common theme we’ve taken away is that they’d love to have someone hear their voice and for them to be more actively involved in the industry and its future direction.
“We think the forum is the start of that opportunity.”
Chapple said a range of speakers, panel discussions and exhibits would provide information that was relevant to running and developing public access facilities.
“The forum’s premise is for attendees to connect with others in similar positions, the industry as a whole and suppliers who have services or products to enhance golf facility performance and development,” he said.
“A networking function will bring together delegates, industry leaders and sponsors to foster the connections that ensure engagement continues well beyond the event.”
The two-day event at the Melbourne Park Function Centre will also examine case studies of successful operations including Moore Park Golf in Sydney, Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Golf and Perth’s Wembley Park Golf Complex.
For a full list of presenters, other announcements and all information on the forum, click on www.golfbusinessforum.com.au where updates will be made regularly.