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7 reasons why golf is the sport of now

Written by Adam Stanley/ Golf Canada

Golf has always been a positive addition to anyone’s healthy active lifestyle. More so now, as the world navigates the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, adding golf into one’s physical and mental health routines can provide a litany of benefits.

While the sport is a positive addition for these times, it’s also an idyllic activity for millennials who are perhaps feeling the pull of wanting to see friends, enjoy a cold Steam Whistle outdoors, and feel a part of nature again.

The only place all three of those things can happen these days is on the golf course.

Here are seven reasons why golf is the perfect sport of now for millennials:

1. The ability to get together with friends

The only place to get a group of guys or group of girls together—all from outside their family/household bubbles—for a couple of hours and have fun is on the golf course.

“The reality is that there are few activities available right now where people can get together and enjoy the company of friends and family,” says Brian Decker, the director of marketing and communications at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley.  “Golf is uniquely positioned to give people a safe way to do just that, and we feel that if we can give people an outlet to get away from the stresses of this crisis, we’re playing a small role in our collective recovery,”

Young active woman in casualwear standing on golf field and getting ready to hit ball with clubAs millennials, we’re used to having constant connection with people.

Sure, we have been able to digitally connect with our colleagues and have made headway in virtual game nights or catch-up drinks over the last 90 days or so, but there’s nothing like in-person connection. Playing golf allows for that.

2. Digital-first communication

Millennials are strapped to their phone—there’s no way around that. It’s not as though phone usage should be looked as a negative, either. Phones these days are used for banking and work connections, not just games or dating apps.

Golf courses have done a fantastic job with their digital communication strategies as they open across Canada in the time of COVID-19.

You’d be hard-pressed not to find courses using new features on Instagram, like the ‘Story’ function to show the different things golfers can expect at clubs upon arrival and through their round during the time of COVID-19.

“All of our member communication about our COVID-19 procedures has been done through our broadcast emails.  We have also used video and provided the links,” says Dave Fox, the general manager at Islington Golf Club.

While many golf courses struggled to dedicate time and personal to marketing and communications, one thing COVID-19 has helped to boost is the social and digital relevancy of golf clubs.

This is a positive as many millennials, and many for the first time, will be searching and following golf courses they want to play. The information provided, through digital and social channels, is the perfect way to connect with millennials.

3. Social Sharing

Millennials are the earliest adaptors of social media, and as such, there are approximately 3.5 billion millennial social media users in the world. Golf provides the perfect canvas for millennials to want to share their experiences on social media.

Whether you’ve been able to get together with your friends for the first time in months, you’ve been able to buy a beer from a bar (or in this case, a halfway house or clubhouse) for the first time this summer, or you’ve caught the perfect late-afternoon light—posting about your day on a golf course is millennial friendly.

[Victoria, B.C.] – August 24, 2018 – Canadian Men's Mid-Am Championship Victoria Golf Club Photo Credit: Chad Hipolito“Social media has always been a priority for us in communicating/marketing to the travelling golfer,” says Mark McLane, the executive director of Golf Prince Edward Island, who says the agency’s Facebook page prompted nearly 20,000 website views in April alone.

McLane says—with only 27 coronavirus cases on PEI and no deaths—the islands reputation for safety and tranquility has promoted groups who usually travel internationally (including to the U.S.) for golf wishing to come to the island.

A Canadian golf trip experience is an ideal platform for social sharing, and whether it’s wrapped in food, friendship, or, of course, the golf, millennials love the opportunity to snap a picture and click share.

4. Exercise

With no gym facilities open across Canada, millennials are looking for places to exercise that isn’t usually their kitchen, bedroom, or basement.

Golf Canada research suggests players burn approximately 2000-2500 calories during a round while walking a minimum of 9,000 metres. Golfers will exceed 10,000 steps over 18 holes.

The golf course is not just a place to get together with friends for a hot dog at the turn, but it’s a place to burn off the one-too-many hotdogs from being quarantined.

5. Sense of Normalcy

If there were one place where millennials could feel as if they were participating in a “normal” activity, it would be the golf course.

Those lucky enough to have access to a car can jump in it, see their friends or family members at the parking lot of the golf course, play 18 holes together and catch up, and then drive home.

“The tee sheet has been busy. We couldn’t accommodate all the requests to play the first weekend,” says Fox from Islington, showing that people are just anxious to get back to something that makes them feel as if they are doing something as normal as possible these days.

From a business standpoint as well, the golf industry in Canada has a $19.7-billion impact on economic activity in the country. According to recent Carleton University COVID-19 stats, younger Canadians are more bullish about reopening the economy.

“Golf employs a ton of people,” says Sam Wills, a PGA of Canada Assistant Professional at Deer Valley Golf Club in Regina. “From an economic standpoint, getting golf courses getting open is a great thing.”

6. Responsibility for the greater good

A new 10-year-long study from the Case Foundation of 150,000 millennials revealed that one of the top-10 takeaways is that millennials care about social issues.

The ability for millennials to be part of the safe reopening of the economy while caring for the health and safety of their fellow man makes golf so important in the millennial ethos.

“We continue to evaluate our protocols daily in such an evolving landscape,” says Brian Mossop, the general manager of Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club. The club was closed for several weeks to have the opportunity to completely re-evaluate its services and service-related items. 

Female golfers. Emily and StephAnd while millennials continue to practice physical distancing, it can be done with aplomb on the golf course.

“Golf,” Wills from Deer Valley says, “is safer than going into a grocery store right now.“

7. Hope

While millennials have been blamed for everything from the demise of chain restaurants to cereal, one thing is true—this group has hope.

During an unprecedented time in our history, when you combine all the good things about golf (social health, physical health, mental health, fun, positive economic impact, environmental benefits, and more) it gives millennials hope for what can come on the other side of this pandemic.

“Shortly after we opened earlier this month, we received an email from someone who had played here and thanked the staff for a great experience and helping them to feel ‘normal for the first time in two months,’” says Decker at TPC Toronto. “That really hit home for our team and confirmed for us that golf can play a really positive role in these times.”

Women golfingWhether you’re picking up the game for the first time, returning to golf after a bit of a break, or if you’re a long-time player just thrilled to be able to get back out there again for the 2020 season, it’s imperative to follow the guidelines as listed by your golf course or club. The new rules are in place to reflect government and health organization best practices as we all navigate this global pandemic safely. And although your time at a golf course may look different than in year’s past, one thing should remain the same: be sure to treat the golf-course staff with respect and understanding. We’re all in this together.

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