Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Will Be A Great Year For The Golf Industry

I love New Year’s Day.  It’s a day in which most of us are reflecting on the past, thinking about the future, and doing so in a purely optimistic and hopeful way.  One of my goals for 2013 is to approach every day like that.

I didn’t write a New Year’s blog in 2012.  That’s because, while being optimistic and hopeful about most things, I wasn’t for the golf industry.  I thought early on that 2012 was going to be painful, and in many ways it was. 

More industry professionals lost jobs, saw decreases in pay and were forced to look elsewhere for career pursuits.  I know because they were calling me.  Unfortunately most didn’t have the capital to start their own business with TGA as they had been living paycheck to paycheck for years as golf professionals waiting for the industry to turn around.

The USGA didn’t help matters by telling pros and amateurs alike that they’re cheating if they anchor (i.e. use) a long putter, literally causing backaches for the ever-important baby boomer generation.

The PGA Tour further hurt matters by literally wiping away the dream for journeymen professionals of making it onto Tour with a few good weeks at Q School.

But, as in all years, good things happened too.  Year over year rounds were up 7.7% through August, hopefully not the sole result of weather being more golf-friendly this year than last.  And there's new leadership at the PGA of America, with Peter Bevacqua as the newly-appointed CEO and Darrell Crall filling the newly-created COO position, both of whom come from business and development backgrounds.  These are positive steps forward.

But there was a bigger thing that happened in 2012, a bright spot that was/is very bright, that fuels my optimism and hope for 2013.  That is the early sign of a significant and critically important cultural and philosophical shift within the industry.  It’s difficult to describe this paradigm shift with concrete examples as it’s more of a feeling – little things picked up by open ears and eyes.  People being more open-minded to new ways of thinking and acting.  New ways to enjoy the game being thought of and tested.  People being less territorial and more collaborative.  I see it and hear it every day.  The number of golf entrepreneurs is growing.  The status quo is diminishing.  And I believe this is exactly what needs to happen for the industry to rebound, the game to grow and those of us within it to thrive with viable opportunities to build a career and generate wealth.

For this reason, I think 2013 is going to be a great year for golf as this feeling hopefully becomes cemented in strategies, decisions and actions – and we’re investing in that belief at TGA.  We’ve doubled our staff and increased overhead.  We’ve identified and are pursuing new revenue streams.  We are trying to execute an aggressive growth strategy.  And because I believe so much in these things, I recently increased my equity position in the company.

I hope 2013 is a year of innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship for the golf industry and I wish you all the best in it.