Who will lead golf into the future?

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The Golf Inc. editors recently unveiled our 2010 Power rankings, with Eric Affeldt on top, and seven newcomers on the list. In compiling the ranking, we kept this definition in mind: “The Power to impact golf courses through wisdom, prestige, wealth, ability or position” There are great challenges that the game and business currently face. But with great challenges come great opportunities.

We feel these 35 leaders have the greatest opportunity to lead golf into the next decade. But who will step to the plate and seize the opportunity to bring about change. Some have argued on this website that leadership is lacking. As anonymous Pete wrote: “To the members of the supposedly, "Most Powerful People in Golf", who helped create the "inaccessible, unaffordable, too expensive to play, too difficult to play, too expensive to operate, too slow", golf that you now need a "radical & creative" answer for. Adjust your thinking to the changing culture:
Downsize, Practical, Enjoyable, Efficient, Economical, Environmental, Green, Sustainable, are words that come to mind.

Design for the sake of the game, the future benefits will return to you in new & exciting ways. Who will step up to the plate?

Comments

I believe Mike Whan LPGA Commissioner should be included in the listing of the Top 35.

Amazed you don't have Andrew Wood on your list. His golf marketing bible is the standard in the industry and his ideas are way ahead.. just my two cents

Leaders are essential in taking any industry away from self defeating practices. However, if leaders becomes to far out of a main stream of thought, they lose the flock. Therefore, to make these tremendous changes that are needed to make the U.S. golf industry truly profitable, all interested parties, including the USGA, need to take stock. Even elite clubs with well healed memberships are crying for change. Without a true look at U.S. golf in general, no leader can get to far out in front of everyone else. The Members of individual golf course's won't go there alone! Yes, they want it to be less expensive. Yes, they want it to go faster. But they also want to be able to 'Keep up with the Jones', or even just the neighbor golf course. Leaders must move the industry, not just a facility.

I have only been working in the golf industry for a few years, but I have been playing it my entire life. One thing that I like about the game is the elite feeling you get when you visit a facility. It is almost an "old boy's club" of sorts, and it gives you that comfy feeling to get away from the house for the weekend. But that is all changing. Golf used to be considered a male sport, with a lot of women getting the raw end of the deal. There are still places like Augusta National that don't allow women members. But that will eventually change, in my humble opinion. Also people are starting to play at a younger age and are starting to get competitive at much younger ages than ever before. You can blame cheaper rates and global warming for that one! But the future of golf is no different than the past. Sure, things change. But I feel like the golf industry needs to welcome those changes with open arms. I understand wanting to put up a "front" and trying to stick to old ways, but perhaps the old ways aren't going to work in the future. With the popularity of the Internet and social efforts such as Facebook and Twitter, clubs need to be not only accepting that shift, but embracing it by connecting with members and guests on these social sites. Turn the membership feel that I get when I walk into your clubhouse into a line of communication on Facebook. Share stories with your audience. Share low rounds, hole in ones, new items in the pro shop; the list goes on. There are so many ways you can benefit from these free marketing tools. Regardless, I could go on all day about that but I think the clubs that embrace this will eventually see the benefit. If you want to be a leader in this business I suggest becoming a thought leader elsewhere first. Thank you for sharing this, it has me thinking!

I believe that the people you list in the Power rankings will be the people who have the power to make the changes necessary to make the sport's future more inclusive and stronger economically. However, they will have to listen carefully to people who have sound ideas on the issues of making the sport more welcoming, less costly and less time consuming. These, plus the difficulty of the game which may be the hardest issue to deal with are the issues that must be addressed. The comments of Ricky Potts are right on the mark! My wife, Jann Leeming, and I owned Province Lake Golf for 10 years and were able to figure out solutions to many of these issues/hurdles. Most people in the golf industry thought that most of what we did was crazy because it was brand new and flew in the face of traditional practices. But, guess what, most of what we tried worked and made a really big difference in our bottom line. We talk about a number of these things on our website, www.golfwithwomen.com and soon I will be adding a detailed "how to guide" for golf facilities which will cover all parts of the facility from the parking lot to the course, pro shop, F&B etc. It is a tribute to Mike Keiser who has told us that he wants to make The Bandon Golf Resort more women and family friendly that he was willing to listen to the ideas Jann and I developed at Province Lake Golf on tee positioning. He adopted our ideas and it resulted in the 4258 yard royal blue tees on the Old Macdonald course which make the course very playable and fun for players with slower swing speeds. He has now placed tees of similar length on the other three Bandon courses. We, meaning all golfers, can only hope that others follow Mike's lead and adopt changes that at first blush are non traditional and may seem a bit crazy. Arthur Little

The real problem is golf was never intended to be a business. And it for sure was not meant to be an affordable endeavor for all. Courses were built for and by people that wanted to enjoy that lifestyle. When someone discovered the way to sell real estate connected to golf courses by subsidizing the course until enough lots were sold and then turning over the unprofitable golf course to the unsuspecting members, it paved the way to overbuild golf courses. And the problem was helped out by the erroneous figures yesrs ago about how many new courses needed to be built to keep up with the growth of the game. That organization still 'leads' the way with it's data collection on the golf industry. Changing the game of golf should not be the answer to growing the game as so many people are suggesting. Play something else if you don't like golf. If we want golf to grow it must work it's way into the schools. The PGA and the USGA have not addressed that issue yet. They are big on introducing it to the 'underpriviledged', those unable to afford to play the game unless it is given to them free, and then these organizations wonder why the game isn't growing. It is no real mystery.

Smart business owners look for products and services for their customers, not customers for their products and services. The future of golf is in the hands of those who listen closest to what players want. Too many club owners and managers base decisions on what they assume to be true. A service called Golfer Insight can provide more information about what members think in just 48 hours, than most will learn in a year. Some managers are reluctant to use Golfer Insight because they're afraid to draw attention to themselves. It's easier to blame the decline in business all the usual cliches, than it is to discover the truth behind why member expectations are not being met. Think about it. How easy is it for the average golfer to communicate with the owner of a golf course in an easy and convenient way. Most find it awkward so they don't. Is the industry really listening, or are they dying a slow death by defending the status quo?

An industry friend (Mike Kahn) once told me his "secret" to growing the game of golf: "Get rid of 3000 courses or add 1000 'affordable' courses." Hmmmmm. I wrote a marketing column a few years ago with his thought in mind. Think about it. He makes sense.

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