In the past week, I have learned of 3 friends in the golf industry who have either been let go or have resigned. It is scary. How do you build security where your livelihood depends on the wants and needs of present and future golfers? The past few seasons, work / life balance, Pay $ for time & effort and the fact that so many professionals are leaving the industry I believe contributes to these factors. So whats the deal? I absolutely love what I do. However I can count about 10 people I know personally who have left the business in the last year. Working in this industry where the “bulk” of activity is: 28 weeks (Mid April – October 30 ) or 196 days (Provided we have perfect weather) or approximately 3000 hours (averaging 15 hours per day) or 2.7 million minutes to make enough money for an entire year is incredibly HARD!
Who is going to replace us when we retire if we constantly lose the best talent in the business don’t have a process that moves quick enough with our changing world to make this job appealing and practical. it is a hard game being a golf coach and it scares me to think that this industry is declining. I have taught in a PGM Program for 14 years and have watched enrollment and student enjoyment lower each year. They are looking at this Industry and are seeing this vocation as not prosperous. Why? The guys coming out of the courses want a job being paid very well and remunerated for their skills based on the generation of expectations and when they don’t receive what they want they LEAVE.
So I ask you where does the passion come from? Where are the next round of golf professionals able to be found and how can this be looked at so we don’t lose our most talented to a secure job in another field. in summer of 2013 I had 3 teaching professionals working for me. As the winter came I kindly helped them find jobs through my friend at a chain of hot tub stores. Well, when summer 2014 rolled around, they were all too comfortable to come back to teach. They could’ve made an extra 40% wage teaching golf, as well as the hot tubs, but they chose to stay in the consistency of a paycheck.
As golf professionals we are not finding the right mix to make this industry sustainable and appealing for the next wave of future golf professionals.
This blog post by Matt Diederichs nicely sums up how golf has changed.
So what can we do? How can this industry make the necessary shifts to stay profitable and enjoyable?
I don’t have the answers here, but things really need to shift. There are some indicators as to the toughness ahead for the golf business.
Below is part of a Maclean’s Magazine article titled Why Canadian Golf is Dying. Click HERE for the full article
“If you talk to a golfer, he’ll say the game of golf is fine,” MacKay says. “But if you talk to a golf course owner, he will say the business of golf is suffering because we overbuilt.” Don MacKay who has built and bankrolled more than 18 courses in Ontario. Macleans said The numbers are stunning. There are an estimated 2,400 golf courses across the country, while Statistics Canada pegs the number of golfers in Canada at about 1.5 million. That’s one course for every 625 players, or 14,500 Canadians—among the highest number per capita in the world. Moreover, Canadians appear to be playing less golf than they used to. A recent study by the National Allied Golf Associations, or NAGA, found that the number of rounds played on the average Canadian course has dropped 10 per cent over the past five years, with the blame falling on everything from waning interest to the time commitment required.
How did the industry end up in such an obvious hazard? Overly optimistic predictions about how many retired Baby Boomers would hit the links was part of it. But the real culprit was golf’s unhealthy relationship with North America’s overheated real estate market. Developers can sell houses for far more money if they back onto a golf course and the fancier the golf course, the bigger the premium. But not everyone who wants to live next to a golf course plays golf—so many courses sit relatively empty. Egos also play a role. “I watched in astonishment as people poured tens of millions into a course that they probably knew they weren’t going to get their money out of,” says MacKay, who once worked for a company that built golf courses.
Neil Haworth is a Canadian golf course designer who spent most of his career in Asia, where he’s worked on some of the region’s top courses, including Shenzhen Golf Club in Guangzhou, China, and Sheshan International Golf Club near Shanghai. He recently completed a renovation project at the Parcours du Cerf golf course in Longueuil, Que., that involved transforming nine holes of a 36-hole facility into a new, faster-to-play 12-hole executive course, the first of its kind in the province.
Haworth says one way to appeal to a wider audience is a greater focus on forward tee boxes, which often lack the dramatic vistas or challenging obstacles that the back tees do. He also suggests golf courses adopt slower greens and fewer bunkers, which are expensive to maintain and “tend to catch the golfer you don’t need to catch, because he’s shooting 120 already.” A change in attitude is evident at the professional level, too. For the first time in recent memory, this year’s U.S. Open was held at a course without any rough. As part of a $2.5-million renovation, North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort ripped out the lush, Augusta-style turf that edged the fairways on Pinehurst No. 2 and replaced it with sand, hardpan and brush. The new look was sold as a nod to its century-old heritage. “It’s the way it should be,” gushed two-time U.S. Open winner Curtis Strange. But an equally compelling reason for the makeover is what it will mean for the grounds crew: They need 150 million fewer litres of water each year to do their jobs. Which should free up time—and money—to cut soccer ball-sized holes into the fairways, should it come to that.
So there seems to be ideas on how to attract people to golf, keep them interested and get new players playing more often. Maybe there should be a similar “SHIFT” in employment on how to get them attracted, interested and stay!