The time for change is now: Get ready for the new age of golf culture
Tradition is a cornerstone in the game of golf. It is the reason why we dress up and act how we do. Since its inception, golf has had a reputation defined by the rules, etiquette, and traditions that come with it. In 2019, however, golf was recognized that while these traditions may have value, they could also be limited to today's players and possible future target audiences.
I started playing competitive golf at the age of 12. After fantastic success in Bermuda (where I was born & raised), I decided to move to the US and pursue a career in golf. After a successful HS career highlighted by multiple junior golf wins and an HS state championship, the next step was apparent: college.
My journey became somewhat lonely. Event after event, I was the one and only non-white player. Most college golf events have 50 Mys, so you can imagine how strange it must've felt to be the only black athlete on almost every occasion.
My favorite memories were playing golf with my dad as a child. However, after moving, all my friends who played golf were white. Why do you think this is? That's why I've prioritized it in life and hope to encourage other minorities to take an interest in the sport.
The future of the game
This next generation of golfers and leaders is already comfortable addressing the status quo in golf. Likewise, members born from the late 1990s through the mid-2010s are thinking about how the sport is changing.
I have come across many diverse individuals through my years in the game. I cringe at beginners being ejected from the game based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or socioeconomic standing. As the world comes to terms with its many centuries of exclusion, our golf facilities resemble our schools, offices, stores, and neighborhoods. There is more inclusive than ever, the most significant change in the past 50 years.
We often consider golf a microcosm of life, and like life, golf is about overcoming adversity and adapting to one's situation, changing on the fly, and persevering through hardship. People change from generation to generation, so the golf culture is and should be ever-changing.
After many years of stringent regulations regarding dress codes, some golf facilities, even private clubs, are rethinking what they consider suitable attire.
Golf apparel manufacturers are taking advantage of the influence of superstars in your local golf course pro shop. Of course, the equipment has long had this influence—now, apparel is trending in the same direction.
With technology becoming more prevalent and players under 35 years old representing such a large segment of active golfers, practice facilities are increasing the entertainment value and engaging customers more and more with music playing on the range. The golf car companies even installed Bluetooth-enabled speaker systems in some fleets. Golf, after all, is viewed as a means of entertainment, and fun and excitement are the names of the game.
Golf entertainment venues like Topgolf, Drive Shack, Popstroke, and BigShots Golf are answering the call by welcoming families, beginners, seasoned golfers, and people of all ages. These venues offer a social atmosphere with food, drink, and fun, where golf is seen differently from before, especially for newcomers.
In addition, driving ranges are adding technology to their menu of services. For example, Toptracer enables golfers to play rounds of golf virtually on the range, compete with friends and keep statistics that measure their progress. Golf facilities also add short courses that give additional social options and don't take as long as a full round of golf.
Technology has also changed the equipment used to play. Driving distances are getting longer yearly, with drivers making more significant and influential than ever. Custom club fittings combine the innovation of launch monitors with the exciting technology built into the clubs to find that ideally suited set every time.
Also, with Gen Z golfers always with a mobile device, a mobile app enabling easy tee time reservations and accessible information drives increased participation and play among this demographic.
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Eastside Golf is a lifestyle brand developed to raise awareness about golf among youth and non-golfers. We want to inspire the culture, promote diversity, and remain authentic.
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