2020 Vision The future does not lie in gimmicks

Previously in this blog we discussed an initiative called Hack Golf and its ability to turn round the falling numbers in golf; 5 million golfers over the last 10 years...if the research is to be believed.

Here at VPAR we know golf is the greatest game on earth and it just needs to adapt slightly for the modern world, not a complete revamp or gimmicks such as 15 inch holes! Following the Golf Business Forum in Abu Dhabi and HSBC’s report, we assess the current mood of the industry and postulate on what, with a few tweaks, we think the future should look like for it to flourish.

Contrary to other recent research, HSBC claim the global game is in good health and it’s not all doom and gloom. The key driving factors for this conclusion put forward by Giles Morgan were an aspirant growing middle class, economic development in parallel with demand for golf in new and emerging markets and growing female participation. There has been a net gain of 260,000 female golfers in the US alone.

It seems to us that economic prosperity across the globe is intrinsically linked to the fortunes of the golf industry. Although this factor alone makes for a precarious situation, much like that slice which you seem to have finally eliminated from your game after countless hours of lessons, it could return at any moment to ruin your perfect round!

So how does golf need to ‘adapt’ by 2020? This is what HSBC’s report looked to set out. If you haven’t read it (we don’t blame you it’s 52 pages!), here is our short summary of the main points which we feel are crucial to maintaining the global health of golf. Not a 15 inch hole in sight!

1. Less is more

Six and nine hole formats or other shorter forms will complement the traditional 18 holes. In the modern world people are time poor and everything is consumed in bite size form. Sport is no different and to survive, golf must find a way to adapt and tap into inner city populations. Twenty20 cricket is a perfect example. For our US readers this will fill you in on what us crazy Brits are on about - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty20

2. Asian invasion

The next Tiger Woods and hot TV and sponsorship property will come from Asia. More and more money is being pumped into the game from this region and with numbers apparently dwindling in the traditional core markets of the US and UK this would create exponential interest and growth in the game. I would also nicely mirror the shift in economic supremacy occurring in the global economy.

3. Battle of the sexes

Golf must become more unisex. We live in a modern world where women are equal to men. The traditions and stuffiness of the game are holding it back from 50% of the world’s population. You do the maths.

4. Techno revolution

It is nice to see that what we do is included in the report. In a globalised society everything is connected and technology permeates every aspect of life. Live scoring will become the norm at every amateur event and you’ll be able to compete against someone across the world in a real life fantasy golf environment. Much like the professional game you and I will be able to see stats at the click of button and find out your global amateur ranking. Who wouldn’t want to know that!


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