Anytime someone asks, “What is the best way to grow the game of golf,” the answer is almost always on junior programs. I respectfully disagree, and I have been operating junior golf programs for 15 years. There are all kinds of junior initiatives that have been around for several years. They have not lived up to expectations. From my own experience about one in ten stay with the game once they reach their teens. Not that we shouldn’t be supporting the effort, it’s just that there is little monetary benefit for golf courses. Junior golf is a labor of love, a way to give back to the game. For teachers, it can provide decent cash flow, but for courses, it does little for the bottom line. Think about it. You can’t realistically charge 8 to 14 year old kids $40 to $70 to play golf. That would be criminal.
So where should golf be looking to grow revenue? Simple. There will be 76 million people retiring in the next 10 years. They will have money and time on their hands. Talk about a marketing opportunity. Think I’m off base, then check out a place called the Villages in central Florida. It’s a retirement community. They have 28 executive courses and 9 regulation golf courses and each is full every day. Statistics say there are about 25 million golfers in the United States. That’s less than ten percent, which means that a great number of those retirees have never played golf. If I were a golf course owner, I’d be down at the Social Security office handing out flyers about the benefits and healthy activity of golf. I’m not discouraging junior efforts, just being realistic when it comes to keeping cash flowing.