Doctor Golf: Ufford Park Resort
The environment of golf clubs has changed, with many developing into golf centres aimed at the whole family. For instance, driving ranges, adventure golf and indoor simulators are becoming more normal rather than the exception. This has helped to create an environment where individuals or groups can feel more welcome, respected and valued than they might have done in the past.
Although there may be a majority of middle-class, middle-aged white males playing the game, this is significantly smaller than before. Tiger Woods may well have impacted the number of black golfers that now enjoy the sport, with many golfers in their 30s growing up with their first introduction to the game playing Tiger on their gaming consoles!
The growth of the game around the world, with many legends now designing new golf courses in such varying places as Korea, Japan and Mexico, has helped to broaden the appeal to a much wider audience. To reinforce this view, recent Majors winners have been players from those countries. The Ladies PGA Tour has now become very diverse, with players from 12 different nationalities in the top 20 (as of July 2022).
Becoming a more inclusive game
The more these successes are documented and circulated, the more chance there will be of others starting to look at golf as a modern, inclusive game. This is certainly something that all the worldwide golfing authorities are aiming to achieve, but it will take time to break down the stigma that can sometimes surround the game.
With that being said, the current divisive situation surrounding the new LIV Golf tour, which is backed with Saudi money, has attracted some of the game’s top male players to their tour, under the banner of ‘growing the game’. It’s a little hard for many of us in the industry to swallow. For the sport to be thought of as truly inclusive, the multiple millions paid to these already financially comfortable PGA stars could (and should?) be invested towards building more facilities around the world, to help target a more diverse base of golfers.
The introduction of TopGolf and other ball tracing technology at Driving Ranges, has brought the game to a younger audience, with many owners seeing a significant upturn in participation, particularly in the evenings, weekends and during school holidays. With more of these venues also adding an Adventure Golf/Crazy Putt option and a food and beverage concession, this has helped bring many younger or newer players to look at taking up the game on a more permanent basis.
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