Golf Industry Central Winter 2012 - Page 12

NZ Golf fighting back, says chief By David Newbery Last year there was a 5.1 % drop off in golf club memberships, but the entire country is working towards reversing the trend, according to Murphy. “It’s a difficult time for golf overall,” he said. “Obviously, there are a lot of market forces and a lot of habits in changing society that are counting against the game of golf, but there has been a lot of success around diversification of membership packages. “Golf clubs need to be proactive and promote new-style membership packages that appeal to the modern day golfer.” “We appreciate that the traditional membership models are still an integral part of the game, but the challenge is to have the right kind of products and the environment in the golf club. “That’s where a lot of our work is heading – understanding the market and understanding what products we need to put into place to help the market attract new people to the game. “We need to diversify the offerings in order to get some new people involved in the game and keep them interested.” Murphy is passionate about growing the game and is not averse to telling it like it is. A few years ago he said, “if golf was a dog it 10 would be a german shepherd”. “I think in some areas it’s very much the case and we don’t present ourselves as well as we can,” he said. “There is obviously a growing number of clubs that are changing in the way they approach new people and the way they present themselves to the public and that’s great. “But we are a pretty traditional and guarded society and you have to work hard to get into “ “ Dean Murphy, the boss of New Zealand Golf, feels the country is making inroads in its quest to grow the game. “There is still a long way to go, but in New Zealand it’s business as usual.” a golf club these days. They are not inviting places on occasions.” Still, the initiatives introduced by the game’s ruling body are starting to pay dividends, especially in the junior and social area. “We have seen a lot of success in the Junior Tiger Tournament Series and in the work we do in schools. A lot more children are participating in golf. “Our programs around our junior stuff and the things we do with overall membership are working well.” The Golf Marketing Professionals Our friends from across the ditch have also seen a spike in social golf and the discount green fee market. “We are seeing growth in people participating through driving range concession cards,” Murphy said. “We are working pretty hard on that casual golfer space and what products we can put into play to engage the casual golfer. “We want to have a relationship with the casual golfer in an effort to draft him into full golf club membership. “There is a huge army of people that are playing a lot of golf, but just not joining golf clubs,” Murphy said. “Perhaps that’s just a reality of where 25-45 demographic is at – not wanting to join a club but wanting to play a lot of golf at different courses. “In some ways that’s good for golf because the more people playing the more likely we are to have that lifelong love affair with the game and joining up as a member at some stage. “The market is tough, but there are clubs doing some wonderful work so if we can pick out those examples and share it with other clubs then they can have the same success. “There is still a long way to go, but in New Zealand it’s business as usual.”