Calling For a New Mindset for Golf in Asia!

Calling For a New Mindset for Golf in Asia!
Calling For a New Mindset for Golf in Asia!

The 13th Asia Pacific Golf Summit 2019 will be held at Gurugram in India; home of the DLF Golf & Country Club. Besides the Summit in October, the venue will also play host to the grand 20th Anniversary of the prestigious ASIAN GOLF AWARDS

Some thought provoking editorial comment about the future of Asian golf has been made prior to the event by the APGS Group. Here’s what the organisers had to say: The pride of super luxury communities of Gurugram, the impeccable DLF Golf, and Country Club was honored with the coveted ‘Asia Pacific Order of Zenith’ by Asia Pacific Golf Group at the Asian Golf Awards 2018.

“The time has come for the golf industry in Asia, which incidentally is reported to have more than 14% of the world’s golf courses to take the industry seriously. It ranks third after North America and Europe, and with this sort of critical mass in place, it’s time to start taking matters in its own hands. The industry is large and it’s growing in Asia and we need conscientious decision makers from the region to be responsible for charting and growing the game instead of adopting oftentimes failed cookie-cutter templates from other regions of the world. While the developed world struggles to arrest a decline in the golf industry, there is tremendous potential for the growth of the game in Asia.

By just looking at population and economic megatrends, there is no denying the fact that Asia has all the right ingredients to throw into the pot to stew up a healthy and promising elixir for golf’s growth. First off, take the combined population of three geographic regions in Asia – China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Collectively, these regions account for more than 3.3 billion humans. In any language, this is a massive number. Next, break down this number by age groups with the focus falling on those under 25 years old and we are looking at a number in excess of 1 billion.

The latest figures available on the size of the combined economies of the regions under review hits the revenue barometer gauge at over US$20 trillion dollars. Note that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are not included in this review. One just can’t ignore these staggering statistics and when projected against key demographics of the population in China, India and ASEAN, close to 1 billion are in the tender 25 years and below age group. When viewed in the context of higher education, higher wages and more moving up into the middle class, the region really starts showing off its muscle.

The middle class in China and India is expected to exceed 1 billion people by 2030. There is no denying the fact that the numbers speak for themselves and one cannot ignore the fact that even a tiny percentage from this huge prospect base can give golf a massive boost. The math looks good and if the golf industry comes together to start working on this potential market, the future of golf at least in Asia is very promising. To understand the potential for the future, the Asia Pacific Golf Group conducted a random on-line survey amongst Asians under the age of 30 years to determine their perception of golf.

We received over 1,300 valid responses and these were some of the key findings: Do you play golf? Only 9% of the respondents gave an affirmative answer. What do you not like about golf? 91% reported that it was too expensive while a further 93% thought that golf was only for the rich. Would you consider taking up the game if it was inexpensive? The response was overwhelmingly over 95%.

Young golfers say golf is for the rich Note that the objective of this random survey was to get a read from the young in the region as to how they perceived golf and when analysed, it was discovered there was a high “aspiration factor” amongst this target group to give golf a try. With this knowledge, the industry must put its money where its mouth is. For decades, the golf industry has talked about making the game more affordable and more accessible and more playable. Unfortunately, this has just remained as talk with no real action being undertaken.

Smart Apps to promote unused tee times The golf industry needs to engage with technology and make the game more accessible using Smart Apps like tee-time reservation services to promote and sell hours that go unused daily throughout the region. Special discounted tariffs should be looked at to convert the unsold times and this is where affordability comes into play. Allow flexibility where new and younger golfers can play a reduced number of holes instead of having to play a full nine or eighteen holes. Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat at a new GolfSixes format with fireworks, music and shot clocks Another way to attract the young is for golf course owners and operators to change their business models to give access to the general public to play the game.

China, India and the ASEAN countries need to seriously look at converting from membership clubs to a more pluralised operating system with the objective of promoting and growing golf. This infusion of new blood is urgently needed and, in an environment where very few public courses exist, ease of accessibility must be boldly pursued. In the case of India, around 160 courses are owned by the military. These ArmyNavy-Air Force owned courses account for 60 percent of all golf courses in India. The time has come for these courses to throw open their doors to a growing middle class so that golf no longer remains a game for an exclusive few.

There is most certainly an aspiration amongst the young to take up the game and with role models like China’s veteran Zhang Lianwei and young superstar Li Haotong and Indian veterans like Jeev Milka Singh and youngsters like Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma together with Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, there has never been a better time to promote golf to the region’s burgeoning young market. The movers and shakers in Asia must show their initiative and take a bold leap forward to change for the better and grow golf.

Everything is in place and the time for ACTION is NOW.”