Fred Palmer, VP of Golf Business Development at Club Car, on the top three trends revolutionizing a sport that prides itself on tradition.
It’s 6:30 am. The sun rises and the cool morning breeze brings a few hours of stillness before the heat of the day. The golf course is Fred Palmer’s oasis. It’s the one place that allows for absolute concentration and some much-needed time to think.
"I wake up every day thinking about golf."
The sun rising is predictable, but as Palmer says, "Golf will look much different than it does today." While some players will always remain purists of the sport who don't want anything more than a few subtle enhancements, we can't deny the trends already affecting participation in a game more than 400 years old.
Trend #1 Technology is changing the game on the course - and off. "The access millennials have to athletes is more intimate than ever before. New age sports fans are evaluating athletes not only on their athletic ability, but how they are as a person."
Whether following their newest lnstagram idol or binge-watching Netflix, Millennials stay connected. They use constant access as a way to share their thoughts with the world and find new ways to mold themselves. Palmer says, "Golf's younger stars like Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Rory Mcilroy are out there having a great time. Kids see that and say to themselves, 'that looks like fun-maybe I should try it!"'
To attract the next generation of golfers, new products like the Shark Experience offer instant access to entertainment, adding a layer of fun and connectivity to the game.
Trend #2 Today's fans want more than than stats. "They [Millennials] are a generation with interests and expectations of live experiences that are radically different than generations before, craving interactivity, connectivity, control, and insider access."
Watching elite athletes gather to simply play the game was once enough to increase participation, but today's landscape must blur the line between competition and entertainment. Palmer says, "Companies like Topgolf are playing a major role in bringing golf to the forefront of modern recreation" using friendly competition, groundbreaking technology, and a bar-like atmosphere to attract golfers of all ages and performance levels. He envisions the next step in the industry's evolution will be incorporating entertainment into course play at a level to which no one is doing right now.
By expanding your on-course food and drink offering with vehicles like the Cafe Express from Club Car, you can create an additional stream of revenue and enhance the level of entertainment for your guests.
Trend #3 Fitness is more important than ever. "More than three-quarters of U.S. adults said that being in shape and looking good were "very important" to them."
Every generation is trying to stay more fit, but the problem is finding a routine that sticks. Golfers playing 18 holes can cover up to eight miles. The physical and mental focus required for the game means golf can become a fun source of health and wellness for people of all ages.
Palmer loves the pace and perspective of walking his favorite courses. His favorite new product is the Tempo Walk, an autonomous caddie that follows you at every hole, providing course info and other tips.
"We want to embrace the future and tackle issues that will drive the continued success of the business and game of golf-while elevating ourselves to be a force for good in the industry. "Fred Palmer highlights Club Car's shared passion to change the game for the good. We're using our legacy of quality, reliability, and innovation to branch into new territory. Emerging products are evolving to meet new needs for connection, fun, and fitness. As a company, we've made a commitment to our customers and communities. Our job is more than selling cars, it's listening to our course owners and managers to create solutions that drive their business forward.
"To help do our part," says Fred, "Club Car has been involved with community organizations such as The First Tee and US Kids Golf. These types of associations help encourage fan engagement in golf beginning at an early age."
Together, we're a team - constantly thinking about golf and reshaping the game for current and future generations of golfers.
Sources: AdNews - Millennials Are Shaking Up the World of Sports Engagement - 2018 The NACDA Report - Reaching and Engaging Millennial Fans - 2015 UPI - Americans Want to Be Fit, but Don’t Want to Put in the Work - 2017