Thursday, August 23, 2018

Golf needs a framework to get youngsters into the game … and then keep them involved


By Alistair Dunsmuir
THE GOLF BUSINESS
The new chief executive of Scottish Golf has called on venues in the country to think creatively about how they can be more welcoming.
Andrew McKinlay, who is a regular contributor to The Golf Business, has said clubs could have games rooms for youngsters and allow phones on the course to encourage people to take pictures and share them on social media.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the former interim chief executive of the SFA said his focus is on getting membership of clubs back up to 200,000 people after it fell below this number in 2015.
“Our top priority is around memberships numbers but we need to be careful,” he said. “I don’t think we have had a massive decline in participation. I believe it is about how people are consuming their golf.
Our focus is on getting our membership back up to around the 200,000 mark.
“We have the highest recorded participation of any sport. The Scottish Football Association has 140-150,000 members. We have 180,000. This is a cradle-to-grave sport.
"We have to build a framework for getting young people involved and then keeping them involved. There is a danger you think you know what kids want without asking them.”
He provided a list of measures clubs could introduce to be more welcoming, especially to children, which included embracing nine-hole or even six-hole golf due to the length of time it takes to play 18 holes.
He also suggested that clubs could have rooms where Xboxes or PlayStations were welcome, with children playing virtual reality games before going on to do the real thing.
“In golf clubs, there is a perception that it is all about what you are not allowed to do,” he said Andrew McKinlay (pictured)
 
“Not changing shoes in the car park or not wearing jeans, for example. But what is wrong with having decent WiFi in clubhouses? What is wrong with having phones out on the course? Yes, you don’t want people to be taking calls on someone’s downswing but people might want a photograph of what they are doing on a course.
“Clubs must become more family-oriented because that is the only way they will survive. There are huge opportunities.
“’There is no point in fighting against what is happening in society. Golf has to find ways to embrace it. That’s the only way forward. It may need a handful of clubs to be revolutionary. Some clubs are thriving. We must tap into that.”

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