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March 2019

A Glimpse Into Golf of the Future

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By Jay Karen
CEO
NGCOA

One needed to look no further than the exhibition floor at the recent PGA Merchandise Show to feel the changing winds in golf. To say I was impressed with the products in the marketplace today — and those in development — would be an understatement. I found my head nodding and eyebrows rising with what some technology companies are working on to generate demand. It’s very encouraging.

At a golf industry leadership meeting one afternoon, executives from golf’s leading companies and organizations heard an impressive presentation about what’s happening in consumerism.  The most prevalent, proliferated and popular goods and services are doubling down on the following traits: personalization, ubiquity, on-demand platforms and subscription service revenue models.

Below I offer my own thoughts on how golf is, can, should or will checking those boxes. Some are happening now, some I see coming.

Personalized 
(Notification pops up on my iPhone) “Good morning, Jay. Based on your availability this week, and that of your chosen golf buddies in our player database, three of you could squeeze in nine holes Friday afternoon at Patriot’s Point. The weather forecast is good for play. Would you like for us to book the tee time?  Click here.”

(Email received) “Hello, Jay! Our records show that your daughter turned 13 last week.  What a fun time to be a dad! Is she ready to upgrade her set of golf clubs? Click here to see the options.”

Ubiquitous and On Demand
(At 11:54 p.m. at night, I’m thinking about my June golf trip to Pinehurst). “Click here to book a lesson with Zach Newsome, your PGA professional. You’ll see all available times, and you can lock one down to help with whatever you want to work on.”

(While putting my 10-year-old son to bed, he says he wants to play golf with me on Friday after school.) “Hey Alexa, are there any openings at Patriot’s Point Golf Links this Friday between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., nine holes and two golfers?”

(After just finishing an amazing round with a set of rental clubs.) “Did you just fall in love with me? Scan this QR code to order this set of clubs and have them delivered in three business days to your home!” (The manufacturer ships the clubs, and the course gets a commission.)

As a Service
“Thank you for signing Jonah up for his golf club subscription! We know he’ll enjoy his new set of clubs for only $20 per month. Whenever he’s ready to trade in and trade up, just let us know! And by the way, we’ll check in with you in about six months to see if he had that growth spurt most kids have about this age!”

“For only $89 per month, as a Premium Member, you have exclusive access to unlimited time on our driving range and free golf during the Purple Tee Times (the purple-colored tee times only found on our website).”

I’ll close with a nod and word of thanks to those vendors leading the way on these fronts. Your investment of money and sweat to move your services and products forward is what drives this industry to new places — places where other industries are already thriving, and where we need to catch up.

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