Golf Industry Central Spring 2012 - Page 14

INDUSTRY MUST CHANGE TO PROSPER By David Newbery I’d like a dollar for every time I have heard someone say, “What the golf industry needs in Australia is another Greg Norman”. Most pundits agree Norman did wonders for the golf industry in the 1980s and early 1990s but the chances of finding another Great White Shark soon is about as remote as NASA’s Curiosity rover finding a golf course on Mars. But when the Shark started to fade from the scene and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) arrived things started to go a little pear shaped. Less people were joining golf clubs and clubs struggled to hang on to members. Still, it’s not all doom and gloom according to former and respected Royal Queensland Golf Club’s general manager Ted Coker and manufacturer Wayne Bosley. Back then, Norman was the face of golf in this country and the game powered along faster than Usain Bolt. Both men have spent a lifetime in and around the golf industry and agreed to share their thoughts with Golf Industry Central readers. New golf clubs and resorts popped up like mushrooms and club professionals had permanent smiles on their faces listening to the sound money falling in their tills. Some of the topics covered in this article include juniors, women, membership, marketing of equipment and committees – once the bane of all golf club managers. Manufacturers, too, laughed all the way to the bank as enthusiastic golfers regularly swapped old gear for the latest technology money could buy. “I am impressed with the way golf clubs are looking after juniors now,” said Coker, who spent 38 years in golf club management. “Forty years ago golf and tennis fought each other for getting people to play their sport. “A bloke called Greg Norman changed all that in Australia. Gone were the days when you bought a set of golf clubs and kept them for 10 years or more. Golfing and non-golfing parents alike encouraged their offspring to pick up a club and have a go. 12 “Within 10 years suburban tennis courts were closing and golf clubs were being built. I know Greg wasn’t responsible for all of it, but he started it.” The Golf Marketing Professionals Bosley, the one-time Acushnet Australia and NZ distributor who now runs Vision Golf, backed up Coker’s sentiments. “Greg Norman did do a lot, but there is confusion as to what he did,” Bosley offered. “If you have an elite player at the top of the tree it draws a lot of players, which has been the case in a lot of sports. “Golf’s got its own place in the world because it’s a lifetime activity, but it’s never been explained to people that it is something you should learn when you are young. “It’s like riding a bike – it’s so much easier if you pick it up early.” Coker is a case in point – he took up the game early and is still going strong at 83 years young. “I play three times a week,” Coker said. “Golf is the only sport I know that allows you to play all your life. “I think the future is bright because of the junior coaching. If we only get 10 per cent of the kids into golf, it will be a big help in the future. “There will be a lot more people playing golf. There won’t be that many people playing at