Challenges in the Golf Industry
As 2023 advances, the golfing industry will grapple with some ongoing problems. Yet, these challenges also offer significant opportunities for growth. Consider just five of the most pressing issues facing golf courses and players at this time:
Addressing Increased Public Demand
Filling the increased demand for golfing services will interest numerous established golfing facilities this year. One recent survey found that 43% of responding golf course managers anticipated men between 19 and 39 pose a demographic group spurring higher demand. More than one in every five golfing facilities also predicted increases in the number of men over age 40 likely to take an interest in golfing this year.
To address this issue, the golf industry enjoys numerous options. Some possible solutions include adding additional training and educational classes. In addition, implementing other 9-hole courses and practice facilities to assist new players may also prove helpful.
For some time, the issue of financing new golf courses and facilities has challenged some industry promoters. Yet, the strong demand for golf services currently assists entrepreneurs. In blog posts, Attorney Frank Jermusek noted that five primary funding sources serve this industry: conventional financing, investments from life insurance companies, commercial mortgage-backed security loans, private equity financing, and Small Business Administration loans.
One key aspect facing golf course founders seeking financing confronts virtually every business startup: persuading lenders a venture poses an acceptable degree of risk. In this respect, the American Society of Golf Course Architects offers some helpful tips. First, the organization recommends presenting proposals in a professional format. Document a detailed Master Plan, which includes attention to site selection, operations, management, permits, zoning approvals, and the developer’s financial projections. Finally, they urge promoters to ask a respected third party to conduct (and fully document) feasibility studies.
Solving Labor Issues
One recurring problem that will likely continue to affect golf courses this year involves the need to recruit labor (and reduce turnover) in low-paid maintenance positions. Industry experts note the national average wage of $10.60 per hour for golf course workers and the rigidity of working hours dampen recruitment.
Paradoxically perhaps, the soaring unemployment rate resulting from the recent pandemic may somewhat alleviate this issue in 2023. However, before the arrival of the coronavirus, low unemployment nationwide made recruiting golf course labor difficult in some markets. Over the long term, labor shortages will continue to pose challenges for some sites.
Minimizing Weather-Related Concerns
Yet another ongoing challenge for golfing facilities concerns cancellations and delays due to weather. This problem has caused some facilities to create more indoor practice options. But, again, establishing formal protocols for addressing operations during inclement weather may be helpful.
The high-profile PGA tour discovered advantages in consulting with on-site meteorologists. This option significantly alleviated some weather-related problems. In addition, managers use forecasts to help plan activities.
Effective Digital Marketing Strategy
The effective use of digital channels to drive sales and build a customer base are two of the primary digital transformation challenges the golf industry faces. Many golf courses and golf gear companies have difficulty being efficient and effective and measuring the impact of their marketing channels, such as paid media, enterprise SEO, Local SEO, content strategy, or social media. These companies’ primary challenges are their digital experience, website design, and brand presentation. There are several marketing challenges that the industry will face in the year 2023. However, there is also room for growth.
A Year of Opportunities and Trends
Despite challenges, businesses engaging in the golfing industry in the United States enjoy an excellent opportunity to expand and prosper this year. Resolving the COVID-19 crisis may fuel renewed public interest in this historical, recreational pursuit. In addition, most facilities and courses contended successfully with public health restrictions during the pandemic bodes well for a very successful 2023!
Changing Membership Fees
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying recession, many everyday golfers’ disposable income has decreased. This has caused many clubs to rethink their membership fees and lower their prices for playing around. While demand has experienced a sharp increase, there is no way to predict how the market will look months from now. If the recession is prolonged, some country clubs may see a substantial decrease in revenue, forcing them to consider shutting down.
Quicker Events and Courses
One of the more noticeable trends in golf is a more significant push to move to short events, playing only nine holes instead of a full round. More people are drawn to shorter courses and the opportunity to play fewer holes because of work and family requirements. This allows golfers to get onto the system quicker, and shorter periods are increasing in popularity. Golfers can expect more six and 9-hole approaches to complement the traditional golf courses.
Golfing legend, Gary Player, said in an HSBC report that golfing community would have to come up with ways to play that do not take as long as a complete round for golf to grow. He thinks this will make it more accessible to the everyday golfer and allow designers to build courses that appeal to broader population segments.
Younger and Female Golfers
Around a third of all golfers in the U.S. are now millennials, which could be a shock to the golfing community given its clear appeal to middle-aged and older crowds. However, younger golfers like Rory Mcllroy are proving the stereotype that golf is a sport for the older segments of the population wrong. In 2019, over 14 million millennials indicated they would be interested in playing a game of golf this year.
However, this noteworthy trend will impact other aspects of golf and trends around eating and the use of technology in the game. As will be discussed in further detail in this article, millennials and generation z are starting to influence the food and beverages offered at the local course and have been the biggest fans of technology to improve the golfing experience.
Additionally, the younger population’s increased presence has influenced the menus of local clubs, guiding them towards healthier alternatives. In combination with the fact that the older population has also grown more health-conscious, clubs can expect higher demand for healthier options.
Another noteworthy demographic shift is the increasing interest in golf from women. In 2019, women were about a quarter of all golfers, and surveys found that their presence in the essential beginners and juniors segments of golfers has also grown. They are especially interested in off-course golf experiences, including golfing ranges, comprising up to 40% of all off-course golfers.
This bodes well for the future of golf and the vision to become a more inclusive sport enjoyed by all. It will also provide more business opportunities as chances to appeal to the female demographics in golfing equipment and fashion can be expected to increase in 2023.
More Technology in Golf
Like many other sports, technology is reshaping golf and offering opportunities for golfers to improve their game. The effects of technology on golf can be seen in the design of golf clubs, the use of global positioning system devices for measuring the distance to the hole, and swing analysis, which can correct errors in the swing.
Robogolfpro is a training system that allows golfers to correct their swing and work on their ideal swing. This appeals especially to younger segments of the population who are more acquainted with data analytics and swing technology. It records impact, distance, direction, curvature, and clubhead speed measurements.
Depending on the golfer’s flexibility, it will direct them on how to achieve the perfect swing and allow the user to compare it to their current swing. Every subsequent swing will be analyzed against the perfect swing so that the golfer’s muscle memory is built toward achieving the best possible swing.
Self-driving push carts carrying bags and clubs have become more popular, improving the experience’s social aspect. Club Car’s Tempo Walk has become more popular since its release in 2019, and golfers expect to see more in 2023. Its sensor attaches to the golfer’s belt buckle, allowing the bag to track and follow its movements. While it has only been leased to clubs more recently, we can expect more individuals to possess them in the coming year.
Healthier Food Options at Resorts and Clubs
Society has experienced changes in food preferences towards healthier choices and away from traditional options. Clubs and resorts have adapted vegan options, cocktail options, and craft beers to adapt to changing tastes. These changes have helped attract younger millennials, generation z, and others seeking to adopt healthier diets.
Changes in Fashion Trends
New fashion trends will provide aesthetic and functional appeal for golfers in 2023. Because stance and alignment are critical elements of golf, specialized clothing is being developed to help improve the spine and neck alignment to maximize their game.
More Media Coverage and Social Media Outreach
Social media and media coverage are essential parts of golf’s strategy to reach more segments of the population, especially the younger crowd. Given that over 60% of millennials are active Instagram users, the sport of golf will be looking to reach this crowd by providing more coverage of tournaments and more highlights of amazing shots.
Whether it is Instagram, Tik Tok, or Facebook, the PGA seeks to cultivate the younger members of the population into the next generation of golfers.
Increasing Attention to Environmental Impact
HSBC’s report has highlighted that the golfing community wants to become a model in water management, conservation, and biodiversity. Additionally, the concept of carbon-positive courses is expected to gain more traction.
Given that the younger population is more conscious of the dangers of climate change and many are already starting to see its impacts, there will be pressure on clubs and the PGA to manage their properties in ways that minimize environmental impact.
Golf Industry Stats and Growth Projections in 2023
Here are ten statistics that are relevant to golf’s future trajectory:
- 441 million rounds of golf were played
- 24.3 million people played on-course golf
- 14 million millennials are interested in playing a game of on-course golf
- Women are 40% of off-course golfers
- Nine hundred media covered 900 hours of PGA Tour golf.
- The average price of a round of golf costs $35
- Juniors (6-17) and young adults (18-34) make up about 35% of all on-course golfers
- 75% of U.S. golf facilities are open to all players