Many people and businesses are very concerned about “growing golf,” and seem to dedicate a lot of time on their websites and social networks talking about it. Nice to have a cause I guess.
I’m not convinced golf needs to grow. In fact, I’ve said many times that it may be in the game of golf’s best interest if it shrunk. Businesses with self-centered motives want to grow golf for their benefit, and don’t care if the game itself is bastardized and compromised in the process. They want to grow their bottom line, but saying that doesn’t sound as good.
Case in point, and the focus of my discussion in this article, is “Foot Golf.” Foot Golf is a hybrid between soccer and golf, where the players kick balls into larger holes. Foot Golf is played on a golf course, or a course setup in a similar fashion. Some golf courses around the country have started offering Foot Golf, and are excitedly promoting it saying they’re growing golf.
They are not growing golf. They are growing Foot Golf.
Their narrow minds obviously don’t realize that golfers like me and thousands of others do not want our home courses turned into Foot Golf courses, nor do we feel like dealing with “Foot Golfers.” If my home course turns into a Foot Golf course, I will promptly find a new home course.
These courses are trying to pay the bills and keep the doors open. I get that. But perhaps if they had not built a 100,000 square foot clubhouse they might not be in financial trouble? Maybe if their maintenance budgets weren’t so insanely high because they think the course has to be as green as Augusta National is during the first week of April, they might not be in financial trouble? Let the course harden up and brown a bit like, you know, real golf courses in Scotland? Perhaps instead of raising tee time prices, lower them to increase participation? Simple supply and demand. Price goes down, demand goes up. More participation means more bodies buying buckets of practice range balls, more hotdog sales at the turn, more lessons for the teaching pro, more golf equipment and apparel sales in the pro shop.
In Foot Golf there are no buckets of balls or equipment items to be sold in the pro shop. No lessons for the pro either.
After the novelty of playing Foot Golf on a golf course which charges them money wears off, the Foot Golfers will head to a park where they can play for free, leaving the golf course high and dry. The courses will be stuck with bigger holes in the ground and a bigger hole in their revenue stream since their original, loyal golfing clientele is now playing at the course down the road.
There are no simple solutions to the challenges the golf industry faces and my generalizations above may or may not reflect all the complexities involved, but I’ll tell you one thing I know is fact:
Foot Golf does not grow golf.