Big Bash T20 cricket has taken off, it’s fast, colourful, loud and exciting and it doesn’t take all day! How can we tap into that concept and idea from a golfing perspective? Let’s break down golf and see if we can do it and if it would actually help promote growth for our sport.
Topgolf has arrived. It ticks all the boxes we mentioned above, fast, colourful, loud and exciting and you literally pay by the hour so if time is an issue, just play until you have to leave. In fact, in the first 6 weeks that it has been opened on the Gold Coast there has been 100,000 people visit the new exciting golf entertainment venue!! That is amazing! Now the traditionalists will tell you that it isn’t real golf and that is true! There are no fairways or greens or bunkers or water hazards but there is so much to like. The biggest aspect I like about Topgolf is that it may just introduce people to the sport but in a super fun and cool way. As we all know, once golf gets its hook into you it’s all over. That is why I like the concept and feel like driving ranges have a huge part to play in growing the game.
Long has there been discussion about relaxing the dress regulations, relaxing the rules and speeding up the time it takes to play golf, and if we can achieve that then we might just get more people playing the game. This is where we need to do a better job attracting people to the game at venues where those ideas are in place already. Driving ranges provide those opportunities and the actual chance for people to be in non-threatening environment, wear what they want, make some noise and have some fun without feeling like they have to perform either. This is a great way to hook people, help them to realise that golf can and is great fun! It is also brilliant for kids to allow them to really have some great fun whilst being outdoors and active, something that is lost on kids these days.
From there we almost need to have the ability to guide people to their local clubs and help them to the next significant step, joining and becoming a part of a great club membership experience. To me we need to then add to this experience for the club member. I don’t think it should just be about the golf to be honest. What is the golf club offering to the member……we need to value add. If I look at golf clubs and what they offer from when I was a kid through to today, I don’t really feel anything has changed over all those years. In a perceived time, poor society these days what about adding some competitive dining at the club for the member and their family and friends, night time driving range or on course options, tennis courts, pool, child minding and the perhaps the simplest might just be a gym with golf specific trainers on board. Imagine having one membership instead of multiple and being able to do it all at the one facility. Is it possible to do this at all of our golf clubs? Probably not and certainly not maybe to all of the options listed above. Maybe clubs could be thinking about how they can value add for their members and engage more than just the golfer to the club, but the non-golfers family members too? This will help sustain golf clubs.
So, is it possible to engage more people and jump on the back of the Big Bash phenomenon? Yes, I believe it is; it will just take some forward-thinking people within our game and potentially some people willing to take a leap of faith. The Topgolf team did and 100,000 people later they are probably pretty happy. I haven’t chatted to too many people that haven’t enjoyed their first visit to Topgolf! Let’s engage people into the sport in a relaxed and fun environment and then let the lure of that crisply structured shot bring them back for more!