Volume 7, Issue 1 – January 2017
The PGA Merchandise Show has a way of kick-starting the year in the golf business. Tens of thousands of Crazy Town residents (translation for any first-time visitors to this blog: those passionate souls fortunate enough who make their living in golf) converge on Orlando to show/sell their wares, network and talk about the business of golf.
Inevitably, show conversation migrates to the challenges that face our game and respective businesses. The golf business in indeed fiercely competitive and in some fundamental ways, misaligned with the digitally-dominated, lightning-paced and instant gratification world in which we live. That being written, golf’s attraction, addictive nature and intrinsic virtues are irresistible to millions and millions of people. This month’s blog is not a referendum on golf’s merits or challenges, but rather a call-to-arms.
This may be an awkward or unexpected segue, but Martin Luther King Jr. (the PGA Show is always on the heels of the national Holiday celebrating MLK) has been on my mind recently because of his transcendent capability to connect with an audience.
MLK inspired people. He motivated them to take action and move things forward in positive ways.
So, I’m contemplating whether the people who make their living in golf can be aligned, can be motivated, can inspire the type of change that golf needs in order to reverse the downward trajectory in participation and negative perceptions of the game that hold us back. Can we swim upstream together against the behavioral factors that put downward pressure on the game and influence the future of our livelihood? The answer must be “yes.”
The passion for the game that binds so many golf industry people together goes way beyond our interest in financial well-being and selling products and services. A huge percent of golf professionals, general managers, golf administrators and business people were drawn to this business because they love golf (and presumably business). What golf has contributed to my life and thousands of those inside and outside the Orange County Convention Center is profound.
So how is it that we’ve allowed so much negativity from the outside world to subdue our pride and undercut our desire to overtly sell our love for the game? I am only one man with one opinion… but I’m asking you to think about whether the image of the game among outsiders (typically those who have never played the game… or tried the game and did not enjoy the experience) has “shamed” you into keeping your appreciation and love for the game to yourself. Others may feel that golf should be exclusive and aspirational… and thereby choose not to “advertise” golf’s greatness.
This entire dynamic is very real to me, and I’m incredibly curious if this note will strike a chord in some of my friends and industry colleagues.
If the 2,000,000 people who work in the US golf industry were to adjust their thinking and harnessed their will and collective voice, I’m convinced that we could inspire a new generation of golfers in a scale that actually mattered.
Golf needs to be sold.
Golf is exactly what so many people need as the antidote to our manic digital lives. NGF data tells us that we have more than 35 million prospects for the game out there (well more than the 24 million who play).
MLK was an unbelievably powerful orator and I write this the day before the inaugural address of our incoming president…
Ask not what golf can do for you, ask what you can do for golf. Can those of us who golf has given a living and so much more… create, motivate and inspire people toward a new bright future for ourselves?
Yes We Can.
Yours truly, The HMCT (aka Greg Nathan, NGF)