By Mary Vlahos
The golf industry has seen dramatic changes over the past few decades as trends toward technology, research, and customization have hit an all-time high. This has resulted in new, hot products emerging onto the market. The demographics of the game have changed as well, although we still have a long way to go to make it even more diverse. Another change in the golf industry is the playing field. The golf course is not the only place where golf is played and practiced anymore.
What direction will the golf industry be moving in the future? Every sport has been influenced by sports technology and research, and golf is no exception. There are machines to analyze your swing and products to help you eliminate your shortcomings. Swing analytics assist golf professionals in suggesting specific club brands for your specific swing. You may think that custom clubs are more for experts than for beginners, but quite the opposite is true. The right custom clubs are equally as beneficial to a beginner as they are to the professional if not more so. Trying to adjust to clubs that are too long or too short, too stiff or too flexible would be harder for a beginner than for a pro. Foxy Golf, a family owned and operated business with stores in Canton and Akron, has a Foresight Golf Simulator that has two high speed cameras to evaluate your swing and a wide selection of clubs for you to use. This allows you to see how each club impacts your swing. “Foxy Golf performs hundreds of custom club fittings a year,” said owner Joe Durkin. “We carry all the major brands for you to try.” If you are starting the sport, give yourself a fighting chance at succeeding and get fitted for clubs. It will make all the difference and avoid frustration.
What’s hot in the golf industry right now? Oakley Prism Golf Sunglasses are specially made to help you see the differences in the textures of the grass enabling you to spot fairway and fringe transitions. The new Arrcos system has an app that automatically records and analyzes a golfer’s swing in real time. This will help you correct any weaknesses during play. Golf shoes have had a redesign as well over the years to make them more flexible and grip better with more spikes on the ground.
The demographics of the sport of golf have changed. Thanks to the successful career of Tiger Woods, the diversity of the game has increased especially at the youth level. According to Forbes State of the Golf Industry 2016, the number of kids playing the game has gone up 20% since 2010. The First Tee program has 48% of their membership being ethnically diverse and 38% being female. Having golf as an Olympic Sport in 2016 has for the first time in a long time promoted the game to other countries. I see golf becoming even more of an international sport in the future. According to CNBC, only about 20% of the golf-playing population is female. That has actually remained unchanged for decades and was surprising to me. Golf is definitely the corporate sport, and playing golf could only assist up and coming female executives to break that glass ceiling. Hopefully the current population of youth golfers will affect a change towards the positive and encourage more women to play the game.
The golf course is not the only place you can play or practice golf. Indoor golf courses, driving ranges, and simulators abound in northeast Ohio. You can play an entire round of golf, work on specific aspects of your game, take lessons, or just hit the driving range. Golfers can practice 365 days a year in ideal conditions, although the traditional golf course is still the most popular place to play the game. There are many websites to help you locate golf courses in your area or out of town for a golf vacation; www.golf.com/coursefinder, www.golflink.com/golf-courses , or www.publiccourses.com. Did you know that Stark County is considered “Ohio’s Golf Capital?” Check out their more than 20 courses at www.VisitCanton.com/golf.
The future of the golf industry relies on the youth of America. “With all the young new talent on tour like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, the game of golf is in a great place for future growth,” commented Durkin.
The next generation will continue to add new technology and diversity to the game, as well as finally increasing the number of women playing the game. I believe we will see new and innovative ways to practice and play the game of golf in the future and products that are on the cutting edge of technology. So, get out there rain or shine and play through.
Golfing Trends for 2017