The game of golf has spawned quite a few alternate ways to play – FootGolf, Disc Golf, Sling Golf and more of which I might not be aware.
It is a huge endorsement of golf being a great sport. Others want to play, but swinging a small club at a smaller ball can be a very challenging experience. The process of learning golf at any age can be arduous – and this challenge grows exponentially as we age. Having played since I was about 10 years old, I was blessed with a naïve introduction with a 5iron and a putter. My parents were not of large financial means and every dollar counted. When I was 13 I got a 9 iron and that was momentous. I could now flub a real chip!
Golf can be expensive to start. Clubs range from $500 to $3500 for a set of new adult clubs. Kids clubs are not cheap at $300-$500 per set to start – for a sport junior might not play as much as they professed while standing in front of them in your local pro shop.
Memberships can vary by type of club – but it is still a serious commitment. And one that has usually blocked players from getting into the game. They add everything up and look at their income and feel a disconnect.
We have taken an aggressive approach which has resulted in 75% of membership being under 40 years of age. This is our membership annuity. They will continue to age and pay more every year. When I heard people talk about the challenge of the younger crowd, we actioned a plan to get it involved in golf. And it is working well.
For all the above reasons (we purposely did not mention time as so much of this depends in the players that day), people started looking at other ways to play this wonderful game.
We brought FootGolf to Canada and it has been a struggle. But it persists with some very committed Footgolfers in the Toronto region. It has succeeded in soccer-rich areas where the competition after their game is to put a soccer ball into a garbage can or through some distant target. Footgolf offers all of this and the ability to compete with your friends – for fun or prizes or both. You are still on a golf course so the cost to play cannot be anything less than a golf round.
Disc sports are large around the world. It was only a matter of time before someone adopted golf as a target. These are easy to build, can go into forested areas and all you need is a kit of discs to play it. The courses are sometimes publicly funded. And companies who design and build these courses are answering that call.
Sling golf I have seen only once. Played with a version of a hockey stick, it plays on Canada’s favourite sport – hockey.
But through all of these alternative, the key word is golf. And it carries the day for them.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Golf is flattered.