In an attempt to attract the younger generation to the sport of golf during tough economic times, two innovative courses in the works plan to bring fitness back to the game by offering tee times to those looking to use their feet, rather than ride in carts.
Though I am not a golfer, my Dad is in that age group that is obsessed with chasing a little white ball around for hours with a club. A traditionalist, his biggest complaint is that golf courses no longer cater to those who want to walk. There lies a business opportunity that hopes to attract a new breed of golfer to replace the declining older golfing population. Cabot Links in Inverness, Nova Scotia in Canada is heralded as Canada's next great course even before it opens in 2010. What will make it unique even more than its sandy shores reminiscent of St. Andrews in Scotland and other great links courses of the world is that it is going to be a golf course for "walkers only".
"Build it and they will come" is the goal of entrepreneurial partners Ben Cowan-Dewar and Ran Morrissett (shown in this picture with course architect Rod Whitman).
The concept of attracting new customers to the game, or at least to a remote location such as Inverness, by using such a "retro" approach is endorsed by no less than Tiger Woods and the USGA. Tiger's own first U.S. course design, The Cliffs at High Carolina , will also be a walking course. Woods said in a press release. "Walking is integral to golf, and it will be very unique to have a walking golf course at elevations up to 4,000 feet." David Fay, the United States Golf Association's Executive Director has written: "We strongly believe that walking is the most enjoyable way to play golf and that the use of carts is detrimental to the game. This negative trend needs to be stopped now before it becomes accepted that riding in a cart is the way to play golf."
That being said, this blog is about the business opportunity not the irreconcilable debate between walkers and riders. In a golf industry that is facing a financial crisis, attracting new younger golfers has to be a top priority. The strong athletic image of today's top professional golfers, particularly with golf as a potential future Olympic event, is just not the image generally perceived by younger adults and teens about today's golf courses. Since walkers and riders tend to be natural enemies who cannot seem to ever share the same course amicably, Cabot Links is betting on the presently underserved market of walkers as their niche.
If this market segment truly does emerge to attract a more athletic profile of golfer, many other opportunities should materialize as well. How about a golf club and fitness center combination or a jogging round of golf as is seen in Korea?
Via Jim Graddon