Steven Tingle

January 18th, 2013

A Slow Game in a Fast World

Topics: Golf Marketing


See that devilishly handsome young man above?  That’s me, about 30 years ago at the Garden City Golf Club on Long Island.  My grandfather was a member there, father too.  He kept up his membership even though we lived in North Carolina, it was important, it was family, it was tradition. Yet one I failed to continue. Life can overtake tradition sometimes.

But what’s different about that kid above and any ten year old on a golf course today?  Well first thing is there’s not a whole lot of ten year old kids on golf courses these days and second this kid wasn’t distracted. No one was instant messaging him. He wasn’t thinking his sand wedge would make a cool Black Ops weapon. He wasn’t checking his Facebook page between each shot or tweeting that his dad’s golf swing resembled a man throwing bales of hay into the back of a truck.  He wasn’t Shazaming the song he’d heard coming from a construction site across the street then downloading it into a playlist.  He didn’t have an aerial view of his location or the ability to drop down to street level and check out the surrounding neighborhood.  He wasn’t able to watch last night’s SNL skits while waiting for the foursome up ahead or upload a video of two squirrels going at it on the green.  No, this ten year old boy was standing in a bunker, watching his dad fumble with a camera, and having a great time.

Now fast forward 30 years.  I’m in one of my favorite restaurants having dinner with that beautiful blonde who inexplicably likes to hang around with me. She excuses herself for a minute and as soon as she leaves the table my hand reaches for my phone.  It’s unconscious, automatic. I’m checking my texts, my wall, my feed, reading the news, throwing birds at boxes.  The world is in my pocket and it begs for my attention.  She returns, sits back down, sees what I’m doing and pulls out her phone.  Pull back, wide shot- a couple in a beautiful restaurant, sitting two feet apart looking at tiny screens.  Drawn into a virtual world while the real one, the better one, is ignored.

This connected world is tough competition for the golf industry.  Not just for drawing new players to the game but for keeping the attention of the current ones.  It’s time for golf to evolve and get creative. Time to facilitate shorter rounds, more sets of tees, multiple pins. Time to let beginners and kids use non-conforming clubs.  Time to lower the learning curve and make it easy and fun to get started. Time to allow fivesomes, sixsomes, whateversomes and market golf as a social event. Time to romanticize it and market it as escape. Time to train golf shop clerks to be welcoming rather than condescending.  Time for the powers that be to realize six hundred dollars in equipment, a seventy five dollar green fee, a five hour round and a high score is very few people’s idea of a good time. Time to admit that people make time for and spend money on what makes them feel good. We need to create a golf experience for the way people live today.

That ten year old has a lot of choices and distractions right now and I guarantee you playing golf is not at the top of his list.  So if golf doesn’t reach out in a way that’s appealing and attractive to him it’s going to end up like the band on the Titanic; proudly playing the same song while slowly sinking.

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2020 Steven Tingle