Saving golf’s future: Gadgets keep golfers playing longer
Story published at 9:56, Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
Northcroft Golf, leading golf gadget manufacturer, has launched an initiative to help golf clubs retain less agile senior golfers and extend the revenue they represent for at least a further two years. Northcroft Golf will be offering golf clubs their latest Tee-Up product to make available to their members, which is specifically designed to cut out the need to bend and allows stable placement and removal of the tee and ball, which would otherwise be difficult or impossible for the player.
Retired men and women who enjoy a game several times a week still account for around half of all rounds played. Long established golf clubs today may typically have at least 10 or more members over 80 years old and this is expected to triple over the next five years. This represents a substantial challenge for golf clubs aiming to maintain levels of membership and related club revenues as the average age of golf club members is 60 plus. For the health of the players and the clubs, older golfers need to be supported in playing for as long as practical.
If the average annual Golf Club membership fee is around £1,000 and a member would typically spend a further £500 a year in the pro shop and club facilities, a club could gain around £3,000 extended revenue per member over two years, that they would otherwise lose off their annual turnover.
John Bennett, managing director of Northcroft Golf says: “Golf is going through a difficult time and our research with older players shows our product provides one simple solution that can enable golf clubs to keep membership revenues which could so easily disappear. Unfortunately many members just give up the game, because of physical impairment, without realising that there is an option available to them.”
Golf is not just walking and swinging the upper body, it involves a lot of bending or squatting – to place balls on tees, place and pick up markers or balls and collect the ball from the cup at the end of each hole. So, there comes a time when back, hips and knees become less flexible, hands become less steady and retired golfers consider retiring from golfing. Players with trembling hands can find it difficult to place the ball and players recovering from hip or knee operation, who still want to play, have to observe caution.
A recent survey of their customers by British manufacturer Northcroft Golf conclusively demonstrated that their Tee-Up can extend a golfer’s playing life by several years. The problem is not just putting the ball on the tee, but making sure it is not knocked off the tee as the placing device is removed. The Tee-Up has a patented stabilising spigot that rests on the ground behind the ball on its tee to compensate for hand tremors; it is lightweight, robust (comes with a lifetime guarantee) and stows easily in a golf bag or on its specially designed bag attachment. Using the Tee-Up, the golfer loads the ball and tee into the jaws and while still standing upright is then is able to place the ball and tee onto the teeing ground. Then after playing the shot picks up the tee.
John Bennett continues: “We are encouraging all golf clubs to have a number of Tee-Ups they provide for their members. We believe that clubs should achieve a significant return on investment from this one simple but effective product costing about the same as a reasonable pair of golf shoes.”
Northcroft has signed up Sam Torrance, the 62 year-old vice-captain of last year’s Europe Ryder Cup team as an ambassador for the Northcroft Tee-Up. “The Tee-Up eliminates bending and even compensates for trembling hands. It works and is high quality. I believe it will help players to play the game we all love.” says Torrance.
Golf is worth around £3.5 billion to the UK economy but the game is under pressure as it has started to decline in popularity; attracting fewer new players and losing both casual players and older players. Golf appearing in the 2016 Olympics, for the first time since 1904, will, it is hoped, provide a new stimulus. There is also much talk of shorter fairways, shorter courses and even bigger holes being introduced to the game to attract newer time-challenged younger players. However, perhaps it is time for clubs to look at ways of retaining those who are the mainstay of the sector; the more mature players, who play most frequently and spend most time and money in the pro shop and the nineteenth hole.
Northcroft Golf www.northcroftgolf.com