Gather round folks! The name is Pete, yes Pete, and I have a genuine, bonafide, electrified vision of the golf future I would like to share with all you fine people.
As a wise man once said “we are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives” (RIP Criswell).
Well folks the future came to me in a vision and I would like to share that vision all with you now for the low, low price of 3 easy payments of $39.95. What’s that you say? You won’t pay for my prodigious prognostications? Well ok friends, I will give you some free tastes of the future to come.
- Future The First: Top Golf Will Save The Millennials.Oh lord have mercy, golf is in such trouble, SUCH trouble! The game is being played by old men and you know what happens to old men my friends? They die! However dire this looks now, in the future the Millennials will save golf from poor profit projections and how? By being introduced to the game at Top Golf.Top Golf has a lot going for it. Rather than just hitting at a few static targets with you imagining what you want to do, Top Golf creates games for you to play and to be fully engaged in rather than just battling your mental demons. Couple that with easy access to beer and food, it is no wonder that Top Golf has 24 facilities built, is building 9 more at the moment and is looking to further expand its footprint. Every time I play there it is a fun golf experience and I couldn’t help but notice that all those coveted Millennials were stacked in the bays around me with their friends.This company is the key to the future upswing in golf because it is fun and fast (no 5-6 hours rounds here unless you really want a 12th order of chicken wings) and somewhat cheaper than a full round of golf ($20 bucks an hour for a hitting bay which can be spread out amongst your group). Top Golf is an easy gateway drug into the harder drugs like 18 holes and in the future more people will come to the game via TG than the First Tee.While I know the future my friends, I am suspect at the impact the First Tee might have on golf participation. I have a sneaking suspicion that the First Tee’s potential impact of future golf participation is similar to youth soccer 15 years ago. A lot of kids played it but not many of them grew up to be soccer fans. There is a reason why the LPGA and PGA have partnered with Top Golf and its’ because they paid me 3 payments of $39.95 for my vision of the future and the rest of the golf world should take notice.The future upswing in golf will be quicker, cheaper and more fun and Top Golf or its competitors will be the standard bearer for the new times with real hoverboards for all!
- Future Duex: Golf Courses Will Make The Game Better By Having Less GolfersGolf courses today are a little like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it. In the shiny new future of driverless cars with pop-up holograms trying to sell you something every tenth of a mile, there won’t be a tremendous amount of new courses built. There won’t be enough water to support new courses and there won’t be enough golfers to fill those new courses to the brim. So what do the pre-existing courses do?My friends (and I can call you my friends even though you haven’t paid me my $39.95 right?) golf courses will recognize that to compete with the Top Golf’s and the other shiny objects of the new age, they have to sell “enjoyable” experiences to golfers. The best way to sell that type of experience is quicker rounds. Not only to help fit golf into people’s busy lives but I think we would all agree that a quicker round is an enjoyable round (you aren’t waiting to hit shots, you don’t have other groups breathing down your neck, etc.).Right now in Los Angeles, Rancho Park is sending out golfers every 8 minutes. The reason I don’t play Rancho Park is that often rounds take 5-6 hours to play. Whether its causation or correlation, more tee times mean more time on the course and we need to spread out the tee times and thus having less golfers play a course in a given day.(my foursome waiting to tee off, looking at the foursome who just teed off while another foursome is approaching the green meanwhile an airplane with 30 foursomes is overhead)I’m not the only one who was hit on the head with falling rocks and now has a vision of the future I am bringing to you for low, low prices. Golf courses are starting to increase intervals which costs them more upfront money but increases the amount of twilight tee times available and also increases golfer satisfaction. Still, losing a bit of money is better than going under completely.Lean and mean will be the mantra of future golf courses and there will be more people riding their hoverboards to the golf course because of it.
- Once, Twice, Three Times A Golf Prediction: Virtual Reality Will Save Pro GolfOh my friends, the sports bubble, the sports bubble! Everyone is paying more now for cable than ever before and one of the main reasons is that the sports channels that are bundled in your cable package are charging higher and higher fees. Those increased fees are going to sports leagues as rights payments to broadcast the games on the channels and round and round it goes.Except, much like housing and start up technology companies, the bubble is going to burst, eventually. People are “cutting the cord” and not subscribing to cable and instead are moving to Netflix, iTunes and similar a la carte platforms. Eventually cable will go a la carte too and the sports leagues are already anticipating that. Do any of you watch the NHL Network, MLB Network, the Golf Channel, the Big Ten Network, the Tennis Channel or the YES Network? All of these are a la carte offerings for specific sports and/or teams and eventually you will have your choice (for a price) of what to watch and importantly, what not to watch.Given this looming popping (trademark pending), what does that mean for a niche sport like golf? How will golf survive and actually thrive? When HDTV came along, all sports benefited but the sport that benefitted most was the NHL. Finally the awesomeness of attending a live game was crisp and clear for all to see while watching at home.In the future people will get really into virtual reality, whether it is those headsets or, more to my liking, a holodeck/projection viewing experience. By watching golf in VR, you will be right THERE at the course. So many golf fans tune in not just to see great golf action but to see Augusta National, Royal County Down, the Old Course, Pebble Beach, etc. To be able to be at the course from the comfort of your couch will have more people tune in and more willing to pay the a la carte fees that will be required to gain entry into this brave new world.That, my friends, is just but a small taste of what the future holds for golf when it is on the upswing again. Golfers will start watching the game via headsets, will start playing the game via the late night laser bowling efforts of Top Golf and will continue on in the game due to fun and fast rounds in the real world. Alas, for the full taste, I definitely need those payments of $39.95 so we will have to call it a day for now.
Follow Pete Flanigan on Twitter @ReGripped
Pete Flanigan a/k/a ReGripped has more musings on golf that you can read at www.re-gripped.com. You can follow his quest to play all of the Coore Crenshaw designed golf courses at www.coorecrenshawquest.com. If you know of any way for ReGripped to play Cypress Point, he will pay you three easy installments of $39.95 and be your friend forever. You can catch ReGripped live and direct on Twitter every week for #GolfChat.
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