Golf Industry Central May 2012 - Page 22

Growing The Game In Asia? Growing the game of golf in Asia - fact or fiction? Fascinating proposition! I don’t think anyone quite knows if there is a serious, concerted effort to grow the game of golf on this giant continent. This is how I see it - Asia is pretty much in a state of self-denial when it comes to the growth of golf. Unlike the US where you have oodles of statistics and research to indicate trends, we have zilch in Asia (with the exception of Japan). I can see that rounds are generally in recession. Many clubs don’t quite know how to reverse this trend. Let’s face up to reality and accept the fact that like the United States and elsewhere in the developed world, golf is losing its shine and relevance as a game and this is placing pressure on club bottom-lines. Unlike America, Asia lacks “grow the game” initiatives like Golf 2.0, First Tee, Tee it Forward, GetGolfReady, PlayGolfAmerica etc. And there is very little likelihood that this will ever happen because of the absence of bodies similar to the USGA, PGA, CMAA, GCSAA and NGCOA. Unlike America, we in most parts of Asia, do not have sophisticated barometers in place to measure the health of the game and to provide us with timely statistics. Most everyone is flying by the seat of their pants and holding on for dear life in the hope that Asia will be the savior of the game. We think this is one big pipe dream! 20 Japan, by far the most mature golf market is lethargic to say the least. South Korea seems to be following the Japanese trend of decline. China - who knows? There seems to be a halt to the once frenetic pace of golf course development in the middle kingdom as the industry awaits a definitive “white paper” decision from Beijing. Will it ever come? Your guess is as good as ours! As we wait, China’s once booming property market is going frigid and this will definitely “ “ Growing the game of golf in Asia - fact or fiction? Fascinating proposition! I don’t think anyone quite knows if there is a serious, concerted effort to grow the game of golf on this giant continent. In fact, I doubt if anyone even knows if the game is in a state of decline! These guys obviously have access to a poppy field hidden away somewhere! Let’s leave all the spin-doctoring aside and look at what really needs to be done, especially in Asia. Forget all the grow-thegame initiatives that the powers that be keep making reference to. Get down to brass tacks - follow the example that equipment manufacturers are taking to change and introduce new technologies that make the game more fun to play. Throw out the growthshackling rules that govern the game for club players and amateurs – keep the rules for the professionals. Speed up the game. Reduce participation costs. Just make it bloody simple and FUN to play! We think that golf can grow, but some drastic measures have to be put in place to make it more relevant to the NOW GENERATION. If this call is not heeded, then just be prepared to accept that golf is not going to grow. It will be around and eventually, we may have to label it as an ENDANGERED SPORT! impact the future of golf course development because most projects are property driven. While all this negativism sweeps China, the China Golf Association is reported to have put out a bold claim that by 2020, the nation will boast more than 2500 golf courses and a playing population of 30 million golfers.Hey, where is this growth going to come from given the tight land reforms that China has to contend with and the growing swell of peasant discontent? These guys obviously have access to a poppy field hidden away somewhere! The Golf Marketing Professionals www.golfindustrycentral.com.au By Mike Sebastian Chief Executive Officer www.asiapacificgolfgroup.com