Corporate Golf Trends
The face of golf has changed since the boom of the industry in the 1990s. Golf has become the number one choice of activity for corporate events and has become a symbol of professionalism for BMPs everywhere. With the ascension and eventual superstardom of Tiger Woods, golf is no longer a pastime reserved for the privileged and elite. However, event planners are faced with a growing number of cultural and social factors that have resulted in many a failed golf outing. Knowing these issues and understanding trends within the corporate golf industry will help prevent no-shows while ensuring that clients receive the successful results they’re looking for.

Shifting Demographics
The original assumption of who played golf can be summed up in two words: baby boomers. At first glance, the logic seems to make sense. An older, financially established generation with extra time to spare is the perfect audience for the sport of golf. However, that older, financially established generation that has become synonymous with golf is no longer free to spend hours on the field. Event planners have noted that senior employees who usually filled out the bulk of guest rosters are now busier than ever. An increase in the average life expectancy has meant that workers are retiring at an older age and senior employees are keeping just as busy as their younger counterparts.

To ensure a large turnout, event planners are finding ways to reach out to younger generations. Generation X, which as a group makes up a smaller percentage of the population than the baby boomers or Generation Y, also happens to account for a quarter of the United States workforce. Since Generation Y, the segment of the population born within the last twenty-five years, has yet to make its move on corporate American, taking a radical approach to making golf a hip pastime may not be necessary.

However, Generation X is already an established group within the business community and this younger generation wants more than anything to invest time in activities that feel relevant and contemporary. Simple alterations to the world of golf can make all the difference in this case, including a relaxing of the dress code or an invitation to bring along a friend or two. Most importantly, younger generations want to feel like they are contributing to the greater good. Get a charity involved or arrange for some of the funds to be donated to a local nonprofit organization. If they see that their participation will produce results outside of the corporation, they will more than likely respond to an invitation that they might otherwise ignore.

Time Management
Time availability has become an increasing concern with event planners. A growing number of secular and domestic commitments among golfers are relegating the sport to a narrower time frame. The problem is due in large part to the structure of the game itself. Golf is played on 18-hole courses that can support a maximum of 144 players. However, an 18-hole game filled to capacity can run as long as five hours, not including lunch or any optional activities that may have been set up. In a culture known for its adage “time is money,” golfers simply can’t afford to spend an entire day on the golf course.

Many event planners are finding that less and less of their clientele are purists of the sport. In cases where the players are not devotees of the 18-hole system, modifications to the structure of golf are being made. Shorter games consisting of nine holes are becoming more popular as well as shorter runs to accommodate players with no experience.

Of course, the rules of golf will never be completely abandoned, as management for many resorts insist that the full 18-hole system be used. Then there are the players who take insult to the revision of the sport they love. (Imagine asking a tennis player to forego the game-and-match system or a bowler to play “just for fun.”) Event planners are finding that a larger dialogue with course operators is needed. Bottom line: management will need to be persuaded that flexibility is needed and is necessary for the financial interests of both parties. Ingenious scoring systems are also being created, to allow serious players to take advantage of the full course while novices can call it quits whenever they please.

Time savvy people want to compress their schedules as much as possible. Like most people, business meeting professionals realize the importance of quality family time. When push comes to shove, the children will always take precedence over an optional golf meet. Event planners should be conscious of this and speak to management about the possibility of setting up a family friendly environment for the day. Some resorts have even set up kiddie holes alongside the adult courses to allow all members of the family to play simultaneously. By making an event open to the family, guests will be able to utilize their time efficiently. Potential clients will be more at ease with their family about them. Embracing the entire family will show that their host prizes traditional moral values and leave the impression that you are truly interested in their well-being outside of what they can do for you. Family is important, and so is time, so event planners will want to take advantage of these two factors by putting together a function that will maximize the use of both.

Ancillary Activities
The difference between hardcore golfers and less interested players is also shaping the way golf outings are planned. Optional activities are being used to draw the interest of as many guests as possible. For players who finish their golf early, spa treatments have become a popular pastime, as most resorts have some type of therapeutic facility nearby. Golf clinics are also an enjoyable option, as they allow novice players to learn the rules of the game without the pressure of performing alongside their more experienced colleagues.

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