Handle with Care

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An everyman won the Masters recently, the most prestigious event in golf.  With winner Bubba Watson, we can see so many possibilities for the game's newest patron saint and anointed savior.  Bubba does have several great credentials: hits it long, takes risks, wears his emotions everywhere, and drives a cool car.  Bubba may have come out of central casting, by way of Bagdad Florida, but he is a golfer not a guru.  I urge the marketers of the game to take three giant steps back and look before they elect a new king of growth.

So many industry people believed that Tiger's beginning would give the game a 20 year B-12 shot, but we know that never happened.  He too had so many great credentials that golf operators stood back, opened their arms and registers, waiting for zillions of golfers to come swinging, courtesy of the man in the red shirt.

Today we hear that up to 27 million people want to learn and play our game.  No matter the real number, these folks have only an interest.  They have yet to take their first lesson or own their first driver.  The game can create an invitation to help these people understand and learn the game with a great foundation.  Here are 5 thoughts on how we can handle this interest with care:

  • Don't rely on Bubba.  Bubba will not grow golf, neither will the Open, the Ryder Cup, or the 2016 Olympics.  The professional with the passion for growth will grow the game for the long run
  • Take every newcomer with interest very seriously, every day
  • Find equipment newcomers can borrow and use.  They will not make any great investment until they understand why, and until they feel the passion
  • Build a local mentor and golfer network group.  It is important not only to instruct new golfers, but also to mentor them and play a few holes together often.  Use your local golfers as the support team
  • Be there before they quit.  We all know the frustrations.  Overbuild the fun and support early in the relationship.  Create a system from the start where you put newcomers on a 2 year growth plan.  Show them more than grip and stance

Let's invest where growth happens.  The game should place the resources and support with the local professionals who walk the talk.  Let Bubba be Bubba as he swings for the curved fences, while the local clubs do their thing.  This time, let's do what the fragile box states.........handle with care.

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