Pandemic brings Next Gen closer to Golf

By Gagan Arora | Thriwe

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed various aspects of our lives. Sports and recreational activities, too, have seen a remarkable evolution. A country that worships Cricket has seen a shift & a keen interest in the game of Golf. With the plethora of safety precautions & social distancing norms being incorporated in the golf gaming ecosystem, coupled with less competition in the outdoor activities, Golf has not only positioned itself well against the covid headwinds but has also attracted new game participants.

If the global golf course industry & National Golf Foundation reports are to be believed, there has been a positive upward curve in the game rounds when compared to the previous year. Globally, 81 % of the facilities reported an increase in the number of rounds. In the USA, through the end of the year 2020, more than 75 million additional rounds were played nationwide than the same seven-month stretch in 2019. National Golf Foundation also reported that the number of non-golfers who say they are very interested in playing Golf has risen to 17 million, up by 1.5 million from 2019.

In step with the global golf market, India too seems to have witnessed an upward trend. Considering the popularity of Golf as a sport in the new post-Covid normal, here are the top four trends that are going to be popular in 2021:

  1. Game of Millennials: With the increase in disposable income and tech access, coupled with lifestyle advancements, the game of Golf is becoming even more popular amongst the millennials. Generation Z enjoys Golf as a channel for lifestyle attributes they value: socializing, spending time outdoors, sharing experiences with others, mental wellbeing, and exercise. The work-from-home flexibility has also enabled more professionals to take up this sport.
  2. Golf rounds of 6, 9, or 12 holes: A new trend has already emerged where golfers prefer playing six, nine, or twelve holes instead of the traditional 18 holes. Considering that millennials are always on the move to create a work-life balance, short rounds with quick turnaround times are preferred. With the new 9-hole golf courses coming up, the game will undoubtedly get the attraction of the urban golfer. The trend is similar across the globe- The 9-hole play is on the rise and contributes to over 25 % of the rounds played in the USA.
  3. Digital Wave: Contactless experiences are going to be a priority in Golf for the year 2021. Online bookings are on the rise, with fewer courses and customers preferring cash on the counter. COVID will boost the automation efforts within the golf industry globally. Other aspects of the golf courses such as Food & Beverage, Pro Shop, and Scoring would also receive the digital push. US market, which already has a high penetration of online golf booking platforms, has seen a 40% increase in rounds booked online in 2020. This trend would continue and pave the way for online and convenient golf procedures, which would further contribute to the growth of Golf in India.
  4. Social Media coverage: Social media has been grabbing more and more time and attention from us. Generation Z has grown up with Social media as a new normal. While Golf has been popular in the western feeds, there is a rise in Indian golf courses and golfers engaging through social media platforms. As per the latest report shared by ‘Ravi Shankar Prasad’ on Social Media trends, Facebook has around 410 million and Instagram has 210 million active base of users. The sport of Golf will be looking to reach this crowd by providing more coverage of tournaments and more highlights of amazing shots. This would further engage the younger generation with the sport.

I would say that Indian golfers, primarily Jyoti Randhawa, Anirban Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma and Aditi Ashok have already surprised the golfing world with their class apart performances at prestigious International tournaments.

The platform for Indian golfers is already set at the global level. However, all growth and popularity of the sport is halted due to the limited golfing infrastructure in the country.

The Covid mandated advancements in the field of Golf should nudge the authorities and corporations to build on the golf landscape in India, leading to a tectonic change in the Indian Golf industry. So, do keep an eye on the trends that are going to make a huge transformation to the game of Golf.