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
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
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
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