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Growing Golf Participation. Jim Baugh Industry Consultant, 30 SG Industry Vet . Focusing on Player Development. Growing Golf Participation. Trends, Competition, & Retention Programs.

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Growing Golf Participation

Jim Baugh Industry Consultant, 30 SG Industry Vet

Focusing on Player Development

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Growing Golf Participation

Trends, Competition, & Retention Programs

Practical Applications for Golf Course Owners

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Trends in Golf Participation

  • Rounds, participation = stagnant!

    • 28 million players, 17 million Core Golfers

  • SGMA data shows a 2% decline in total golfers

  • 4 million people try/rejoin each golf year

    • 4 million leave each year!

  • 2006 - More course closures than openings

  • A great sport with potential to grow!

  • Lots of press…Lots of meetings…

    • Rounds and players…FLAT

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Trends in Golf Participation

(Facility Research)

Biggest challenges for Facility Operators

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Trends in Golf Participation

(Facility Research)

Biggest challenges for Facility Operators

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Trends in Golf Participation

(Facility Research)

Biggest challenges for Facility Operators

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Growing Golf Participation

  • We can learn by…

    • Looking at American trends

    • Looking at successful sports & activities

    • Looking at successful golf programs

    • Keeping things simple and focused

    • Realizing who is responsible for the growth of the game

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Growing Golf Participation

Looking at Trends in America

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American Trends

Much more competition for people time

  • A Few Years Ago

  • 20-30 Sports / Activities

  • 30 + TV Stations

  • Phones

  • Computers

  • One H of H Working

  • Active Society

  • Today

  • 40-50 Sports / Activities

  • 100 + TV Stations

  • Cell Phones, PDA’s

  • PC’s, Blackberrys

  • Two H of H Working

  • Less Active Society

America is making BIG changes!!

Are WE changing???

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American Trends

  • US Population grew by 50 million in the last 15 years (+17%)

  • Will grow again by 50 million people in the next 20 years

    • Lower growth rate for Whites (+5%)

    • High growth rate for Hispanics (+62%)

    • The ‘next 50 million’ in growth will have lower disposable incomes

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Growing Golf Participation

Looking at Successful Sports & Activities

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New SGMA Research

Fitness activities rank 12 out of the top 15!

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New SGMA Research – Frequent Participants

Notice the void of “Traditional Sports”

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New SGMA Research - Total ParticipantsNotice the 6 year growth patterns

Americans are notdoing what they are watching!

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New SGMA Research - Total ParticipantsNotice the 6 year growth patterns



Americans are notdoing what they are watching!

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Growing Golf Participation

A New Research Project Reveals…

  • What Americans have tried

  • What they want to try

  • What is easy to learn & enjoyable

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“Which of the following sports or activities have you ever played or tried?”

Golf has been tried by 30% of Americans

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Which of the sports or activities have you ever played regularly?

10% have played golf regularly

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How easy it is to “learn and enjoy” each of the following?

For those who have NEVER tried the listed sport or activity

Americans say “Golf is Very Difficult”


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Even regular players see golf as “hard to learn and enjoy”

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What do these 3 charts say??? “hard to learn and enjoy”

  • Traditional sports have huge competition from “fitness activities”

  • Golf is an extremely hard sport to learn and enjoy…one of the hardest!

  • If a person just goes out and tries golf on their own, they will be very challenged!

  • Proper introduction to the game is VITAL!

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Americans have limited interest “hard to learn and enjoy”


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For those who have tried golf, interest is better “hard to learn and enjoy”


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What do these 2 charts say??? “hard to learn and enjoy”

  • When Americans are deciding on which of leisure activity to try… golf is not the first thing they think about

  • We must promote golf…for the beginner

  • When we realize NO other sport is promoting “play” like golf is… the present PR and advertising campaign for “Play Golf America” doesn’t seem to be connecting

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Golf is the ONLY sport or activity with a “hard to learn and enjoy”national “play” campaign


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Growing Golf Participation “hard to learn and enjoy”

Is there a traditional sport similar to Golfthat is breaking through?

Tennis & Golf…Similarities

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Tennis & Golf similarities “hard to learn and enjoy”



Retention is the Problem!

Traditional sport

Skill based

Powerful Governing Bodies

28,000 Local Pros

17,000 Local Facilities

29 million golfers

3-4 million people try golf each year

Trial is not the issue

Traditional sport

Skill based

Powerful Governing Bodies

17,000 Local Pros

10,000 Local Facilities

23 million tennis players

5+ million people try tennis each year

Trial is not the issue

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Is the beginner’s experience in tennis similar to those trying golf?

Other facts

  • Only 17% of new tennis players had a good initial experience

  • Only 15% of Americans were aware “new player programs” existed!

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Growing Golf Participation trying golf?

Tennis - the growth in players, revenues, etc.

And…How this Growth Happened!

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Tennis is on a Roll! trying golf?

  • Participation Numbers are very strong!

    • Total players are up over 1 million players in the past two years

    • Frequent players are up over 14%

    • Total Play Occasions are up 23%!

  • Facility and Retailer businesses are strong!

    • 71% of club owners have either very high or high optimism about the future …only 5% are not optimistic

    • 55% of retailers say sales are up… 66% say because of new players joining the game

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How is Tennis growing?? trying golf?

  • We learned how to grow through “Trial and Error”

  • We tried…

  • National Advertising promoting “Play Tennis” using Donald Trump, Jeff Gordon, etc.

  • “Mall Tennis” – promotions in malls

  • “Kids Days” at Pro Events (too much of a circus)

  • “Free lessons” (with no follow up programs)

  • We spent over $5 million while learning

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  • Focused local facility based programs

  • Supported Nationally

  • Giving Americans what they want

    • A better initial “experience” when trying tennis

    • A better way “to get fit” in tennis

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A Better initial experience for beginners! trying golf?

We recruited facilities & pros who established…

  • ONLY 2000 facilities

  • 4-6 week classes for new players

  • 6-8 players in each class – group instruction

  • Taught by Pros who like teaching beginners

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…is working! trying golf?

  • Beginner retention rates improved from 18% to 54%!

  • 87% of facilities offered “transition programs”

  • 73% offered follow up “ beginner leagues”

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A new way to attract fitness oriented Americans to Tennis

Players of all abilities have fun!

60 minutes of action!

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Results are Positive! Tennis

74% of all facilities rated Cardio Tennis “very good” or “good” for their facility

Over 1000 Cardio Tennis facilities said Cardio Tennis

increased the club revenues 15%

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Three Other LOCAL Tennis initiatives Tennis

  • 1. New Schools Programs

    • Only promote tennis in schools …which have RETENTION programs

  • 2. New Parks Programs

    • $’s Invested in new public facilities …where Americans start to play tennis

  • 3. Expanded League Programs

    • Increase frequency, fun, & good experiences

Tennis is starting to promote too many initiatives

Keep programs and promotion focused!

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Growing Golf Participation Tennis

How YOU can make it happen!

The Steps to “Stepping Up” to growing the game of Golf

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The Steps to “Stepping Up” Tennis

  • Understand the changing dynamics of American demographics

    • Time crunch

    • Instant gratification

    • Fitness / other activities are easier to learn… and more desirable

    • Multi-cultural

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The Steps to “Stepping Up” Tennis

Golf Welcome Center

Learn to Play Golf Here!

2. A commitment to Player Development from top down

  • Give new players the “right experience” … “hold their hand”

  • Run Player Development as a separate business? (make $ to breaking even)

  • Think long term

  • Track results - research

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The Steps to “Stepping Up” Tennis

Don’t try to be all things to all people Stay Focused!

3. Define your target market

  • Adults

  • Kids

  • Women

    4. Find the right pro or instructor

  • Great with beginners (or kids)

  • Great with groups

  • Motivational & Fun ….a person with PASSION

  • With the right compensation

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The Steps to “Stepping Up” Tennis

5. Use or capitalize on “trial programs”

  • Free lessons, etc.

    6. Establish a good retention curriculum

  • Multi-session classes

  • Basic skills, chipping, etc

  • Golf etiquette, basic rules, golf cart

  • On Course sessions with the pro

  • 8 to 1 ratio (players to pro) GROUPS

  • Not expensive

    7. Have follow up programs & leagues

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Trial & Promotion Tennis

Retention Curriculum

Follow up Programs

Vital steps are the Multi-session Retention Curriculum & Follow Up Programs

Golf has a lot of this

But, needs to focus on here!

And also here

  • Play Golf America Campaign

  • Free Lessons

  • Take a daughter to the course

  • Family golf month

  • American Express Women’s Golf Wk

Multi-session, right $, Group sessions, etc.

“Wine and Nine”

“Couples Night”

“Nine hole or less”

“Play with the pros” days / events

“Corporate Leagues”

“Teen Time or Kids Leagues”

“Executive Women Golf Leagues”

Multi-session, right $, Group sessions, etc.

Multi-session , right $ , Group sessions, etc.

Multi-session, right $, Group sessions, etc.

Multi-session, right $ , Group sessions, etc.

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The Steps to “Stepping Up” Tennis

  • Local Marketing

    • Increase awareness of your “Learn to Play” program

    • Use Guerilla Marketing

      • Visit local businesses

      • Articles in newspapers

      • Social groups (couples, etc.)

      • Banners in visible locations

      • Schools

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Other things you can do… Tennis

  • Do you have the right forward tees?

  • Look at other locations for Player Development (where we have a leaky bucket)

    • Go into the schools (Snag)

    • Work with ranges, public courses, par 3’s, executive courses

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It comes down to … Tennis

A commitment to the 5 P’s

  • People

  • Passion

  • Programming

  • Promotion

  • Patience

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Learning Centers Experts Tennis

A couple of people who understand the formula

Ted Eleftheriou, PGA Member


Blueprint 4 Business

P.O. Box 457

Fruitland Park, Florida 34731-0457

Tel: (407) 928-3976

[email protected]

Rich Richeson, PGA Member

Richeson Player Development, LLC

Owner, Adams Golf Learning Centers

2809 Fountainhead Dr.

Plano, TX 75023


[email protected]

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Summary… Tennis

Don’t wait for a fancy national program!

Grow this great game in your facility and your community… with entrepreneurial approaches!

You can make it happen!