Why is golf so fixated on millennials?

The Scoop

LG columnist Emma Ballard considers golf's obsession with millennials and puts forward a new idea for getting more women into the clubhouse

We keep being told that for the survival of our golf clubs we need women, and in particular, female millennials.

Well luckily for you all, I’m a female millennial!

How do I know I’m a millennial? Well I looked it up on Google. Turns out that if you’re born between approximately 1981 and 1996 you are one of the lucky people selected by the golf industry as the most suitable candidates for a golf club.

What more do we know about them? Tech savvy, coffee loving, TV-phobes, who live for an experience that they can post on social media. I may have missed something but this really doesn’t scream prospective golf club member to me.

Maybe we should look a little closer at women specifically, as we are the current target market. I’m a 34 year old, mother of 2, addicted to social media and have played golf since I was a junior. Compare me to a 23 year old, fresh face out of university, no children, never played golf and got a student debt to pay off.

Alright, that’s a little extreme, but even a 28-year-old full time worker with no children will have different needs and will be looking for a different experience at the golf club than I am. It seems to me that due to the different family dynamics and life stages, golf clubs are going to have a very tough time trying to suit female millennials whilst also keeping their current membership happy.

But before golf clubs throw their millennial marketing plans in the bin, if we delve a little deeper we may find that female millennials, gen Xs and even some baby boomers may not be as dissimilar as I make out. Is there really a distinct cut off between generations? There are plenty of 40-something women (Gen Xs) who rely on social media, I know of women in their 50s who can handle their prosecco better than me and baby boomers who just want a decent cup of tea (or coffee).

They all have strong friendships, find strength in numbers and just love a good gossip. Ok, money, time and family circumstances do differ, but at the heart of it all are the same common values, with millennial traits running through every generation.

So rather than chasing one generation, should golf clubs be marketing to attract women as a whole?

An industry that seems to have already worked this out is the fitness industry. Take your local health club and you’ll find people of all ages and generations, mixing together harmoniously under one roof, with the majority there to maintain their health in a relaxed environment. Phones are visible, skinny chai lattes are the norm and lycra, jeans and baseball caps are all allowed.

What if golf clubs were to shift focus from one particular generation, and instead focus on making themselves places that are welcoming to all.

If golf clubs have a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere, where you can have a decent cup of coffee or a glass of fizz with your friends, as well as a relaxed dress code and Wi-Fi for Instagram stories (Facebook for baby boomers) then surely they will attract every generation? Potentially even the unknown Gen Zers!

At this point I haven’t even mentioned actually playing golf because I believe this actually comes secondary to the overall club experience. The fantastic facilities, golf course(s) and PGA Professionals only enhance the product that a golf club has to offer. It’s at this point that golf clubs are then able to target what they have to offer to the specific groups they want to attract.

The great thing about golf is that is can be played throughout your lifetime and it has a great ability to bring generations together. Why not celebrate this within a clubhouse? Rather than alienate the members you already have and give the newcomers a bad reputation.

I may still be looking for different things from a golf club than a fresh faced university graduate, let’s not even get started on the massive benefit of crèche facilities, but there isn’t any reason why you can’t build a successful golf club by looking at women as a whole.

Golf needs to realise that we’re not so different after all.

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