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GOLF 20/20 Concludes with Historic Alliance


Editor’s Note: The following press was released during the week of November 12, 2001 by the participants in the GOLF 20/20 conference in St. Augustine, Florida. The press release is included in its entirety.

Fortified with a better understanding of target consumers, promising results from 2001 programs and continued support from industry leaders, “GOLF 20/20: Vision for the Future” is strongly positioned to serve as a catalyst for golf’s future growth.

The World Golf Foundation initiative’s second conference concluded Tuesday at World Golf Village with approximately 200 industry leaders encouraged by results from a player development program and a junior golf initiative that has introduced a Web site to create a database of junior programs nationwide. Extensive segmentation research that was conducted in 2001 also has provided important consumer information that will enhance future growth efforts.

“This has been an important year for GOLF 20/20 in that several key initiatives have provided significant results and information that have established a firm foundation upon which to build,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, Chairman of the World Golf Foundation.

“GOLF 20/20 has established itself as a place for the industry to exchange ideas and to serve as an incubator for programs with merit. An important role of GOLF 20/20 will be to monitor the industry’s progress. We also have been asked to expand the conference to have a bigger international focus for next year and beyond. GOLF 20/20 is here to stay.”

One such program is GOLF 20/20’s Link Up 2 Golf, tested this summer in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. With the help of The PGA of America, Link Up 2 Golf successfully introduced the game at an affordable price and in a friendly, non-intimidating manner. More than 300 participants paid $199 for six hours of lessons, five rounds of golf, seminars and range use. Eight facilities participated and the response from the vast majority of instructors and participants suggested it is a viable means of connecting with potential golfers on a broad scale.

One of the most significant results was that prior to entering the program, nearly 60% of the participants had expressed some level of discomfort at a golf facility. Afterward, that plummeted to 3%. Moreover, nearly 65% entering the program said they were uncomfortable or very uncomfortable on a golf course; afterward, only 4% said they were still uncomfortable.

Due to this initial success with Link Up 2 Golf, PGA of America CEO Jim Awtrey and National Golf Course Owners Association Executive Director Michael Hughes announced Tuesday that The PGA and NGCOA will partner in expanding Link Up 2 Golf in 2002. The two organizations will meet in the near future to formulate a rollout plan.

“Everyone has a vested interest in growing the game and increasing the rate of participation,” Awtrey said. “We look forward to developing Link Up 2 Golf with the NGCOA and to take advantage of this synergy to get the most out of it.”

“We are very much dedicated to making this work,” Hughes said. “The NGCOA will be dedicating all of its resources, the number one resource being our owners. We have a lot of motivated people to make this a success, because they have the most to gain by creating new players.”

Also unveiled at the conference was juniorlinks.com, a Web site developed as part of the junior initiative spearheaded by the United States Golf Association Foundation. The site has been established as a resource for youth, their parents and junior golf program administrators with a listing of structured junior programs and a variety of related information.

In addition to juniorlinks.com, the USGA Foundation coordinated a series of local and regional summits in 2001 to share ideas and best practices, which will continue next year. Also in development is a GOLF 20/20 Web site that will provide information and serve as a forum to generate new growth ideas, according to Ruffin Beckwith, Senior Vice President of the World Golf Foundation, who oversees GOLF 20/20.

Segmentation research conducted in 2001 that was shared during the conference provided a better picture of consumers and opportunities for growing participation. Among the findings were:

· Golf’s best customers total more than 10 million, representing 40% of adult golfers in the U.S. They average 48 rounds per year (84% of all rounds played) and spend an average of $1,700 annually on fees and equipment (81% of all spending).

· There is room and opportunity to grow from the best customer base. There are 12 million adults in the U.S. who are not currently best customers, yet fit the demographic profile and are interested in learning how to play or playing more than they currently do.

· There are two distinct keys to cultivating future best customers: ball-striking and playing partnerships. These are much more influential on enjoyment of the game, easily surpassing score, course condition, competition and exercise.

· Growth initiatives should have a presence at professional golf tournaments. Nearly one in five (16%) of tournament attendees currently do not play the game, but express an interest in doing so.

· Junior programs pay off in the long run. U.S. golfers ages 18-34 who were exposed to a junior program are playing 58% more rounds and spending 71% more on fees and equipment than those golfers who did not participate in a junior program.

· Affordability is critical to growing the game. Affordability/value is by far the most important factor that influences play. Nearly 60% of golf’s best customers believe affordability is one of the three most important factors that influences play, and that an 18-hole round of golf is a good value at about $35. A round begins to get expensive at about $55 and is too expensive at $117.

A wealth of other statistical data was shared on participation tendencies in the U.S. through the screening of 100,000 households. The three-day conference provided attendees the opportunity to offer opinions and suggest opportunities in several key areas through a series of breakout sessions, which in turn were reviewed during general sessions. Besides Link Up 2 Golf and Junior Golf, topics included Alternative Facilities, Colleges and New Ideas.

“The GOLF 20/20 initiative was started to bring the industry together to strategize about the future, and to foster alliances that will promote growth, and we are delighted with the outcome of the conference,” Beckwith said. “The quality of what we’ve learned this year, the success of several of our initiatives and the support of these efforts by the entire industry leave us well positioned to reach our long-term participation and interest objectives.”