As I walked the floor of the 2019 PGA Show in Orlando, I was simultaneously excited and concerned for the game of golf.
I was excited at some of the new ideas presented. Super-fun single rider golf cycles, scooters and carts. Sunglasses with bone-conducting audio built in so that only the wearer can hear it. Golf games for kids that are fun, bright and easy to understand. New fitness equipment and nutrition concepts. Loads of golf course marketing and operations optimization software.
But I was concerned for the game as well, for two reasons.
Concern #1: club and putter pricing. It seems that so many club companies are racing to the top of the pricing model instead of building out a truly stylish, cool brand based on quality with affordability.
Concern #2: the hugely expanded focus on virtual and simulator golf. There were so many companies offering indoor HD systems to play and expensive hi-tech VR gear to wear. Ever larger and more realistic screen images. Glasses that put data into your field of vision. Lots of fake plastic turf.
We’re now a decade plus into wise adults telling sedentary kids to put down the video games and go outside. I hope the adults in golf remember that the game is magic when it’s played outdoors with grass and wind and sunshine.
A common rebuttal to this sentiment is that golf simulators and VR can help “grow the game.” But exactly what game is that growing?