While cranky boomers have bashed millennials for everything from overdosing on student loans to consuming too many Caramel Macchiatos at Starbucks, this generation is, and will continue to make a profound impact on the golf industry.
I recently reviewed a Millennial Golf Study that reveals intriguing insights and statistics on their habits, attitudes and preferences in golf.
The study was a collaborative effort by growth-of-the- game organization Nextgengolf and GGA Partners, international consulting firm and trusted advisors to the golf, private club, and leisure industries, with input from the PGA of America.
Over 1,600 Millennial golfers (those born between 1981 and 1996) were interviewed for The 2021 Millennial Golf Industry Survey, conducted in November 2020 through January 2021. It was administered via an open survey collector link distributed by Nextgengolf through its nationwide email and player network.
— 62% of the golfers interviewed plays public golf. 20% play private and 20% semi-private
— The average annual rounds played reached a new peak: 33.9 rounds, which is a 9% increase year-over-year.
— The average handicap reached a record low, decreasing 5% to 8.8.
— Golf has become more important to millennial golfers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic according to 60% of sample – 25% significantly so.
— On average, millennials spend approximately $47 per round. The average spend per round has increased 28% over the past five years, climbing at an average rate of $3.25 more per round each year.
— Most millennials have experienced increased work flexibility (84% can work-from-home) which has been favorable for allowing them to get on the course more frequently. Half say work-from-home allows them to play more golf, 18% significantly more.
–Popular off-season golf activities participation includes: indoor golf simulators (62%), entertainment complexes such as Topgolf, X-Golf America and Drive Shack (47%) and console video games (36%).
— 60% said they prefer golf venues that exhibit responsible social and environmental behavior.
— With regard to private clubs, 43% expressed a willingness to pay higher annual dues in lieu of a larger joining fee. The average entrance fee tolerance is $5,711 and average annual dues tolerance is $3,760.
The major trend is how the game is consumed by millennials. While the 18-hole round is still popular, millennials pressed for time are increasingly looking to short courses, par three courses and entertainment facilities as ways to enjoy the golf experience without a five to six hour investment.
If you’re paying close attention, you’ll see millennials are making a stunning impact on the golf industry.
Tech happy golf entertainment complexes like Topgolf, X-golf America, Drive Shack and Big Shots have re-invented the range experience to include point scored electronic games, golf simulators, data tracking, Chef crafted menus and full bars where the margaritas and mojitos are always flowing.
Tiger Woods is a partner in PopStroke, an upscale putting course entertainment complex concept targeted to millennials and Gen-Zers. The Fort Myers, Florida PopStroke opened in September 2020. There’s another PopStroke in Port Saint Lucie. Other facilities in Florida in Orlando and Sarasota are slated to debut this year with Delray Beach and Tampa in 2022. Scheduled for a 2021 opening is a PopStroke in Salt River/Scottsdale, Arizona.
Short courses like Goat Hill Park (California), WP9 (Florida) and Sugar Mountain GC (North Carolina) are hugely popular with Millennials and par-3 layouts are no longer viewed as pitch, sip a brewski and giggle experiences. Top tier resorts like Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links and Big Cedar Lodge all have par-3 courses in addition to their championship course menu. Pebble Beach Resorts recently debuted The Hay, a par-3 course designed by Tiger Woods.
Fitness is an integral part of the Millennial lifestyle so it’s not surprising that pursuits like Footgolf, a hybrid game of soccer and golf on the course, has caught on. Resorts like Crystal Springs in New Jersey, French Lick Resort in Indiana and TreeTops Resort in Michigan offer Footgolf. You also see an increasing number of Millennials jogging on golf cart paths early in the morning before the course opens.
Suffice it to say, this is not your grandfather’s or even your father’s game anymore.
You better start working on your golf simulator game.