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Opinion & Analysis

How Snapchat Can Help Grow Golf

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The National Golf Foundation says that “Avid Golfers” (those that play at least twice a month) currently number 6.2 million golfers in the U.S., down from their high of 10.2 million in 2000. It’s no secret that participation in the game of golf has been in decline, and almost everyone can agree the best way to grow the game is to ignite interest from millennials and America’s youth. Past solutions have only slowed the decline, however, and the majority of kids today would rather play Minecraft or watch Netflix instead of hitting a little white ball toward a hole in the summer heat. At least they think that’s what they’d rather do.

If you’re on GolfWRX, there’s a good chance you’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You may not use Snapchat, however; an app that has been spreading across the country. Fourty-one percent of people 18-34 in the U.S. use Snapchat, and usage continues to grow.

One of Snapchat’s main features is the use of what are called “geofilters.” You take a picture, and depending on your exact location, various geofilters will appear. These are small visual overlays that you add on top of your picture. Here’s an example of a geofilter in New Burgh, New York.

snapchat-mllnnl-3

If you take a look at any social media platforms today, the top shared content is either a picture or a video. It just so happens that golf courses can make absolutely stunning pictures and videos. Think about it; I’m sure you have that one hole at your local course that’s gorgeous at sunset.

Snapchat is all about sharing your experiences with your friends, and the new feature that lets businesses buy a custom Snapchat geofilter at an inexpensive annual rate could bring a huge return on investment for golf courses.

The current rate for a custom geofilter seems to be going for about $450 for 20,000 square feet. Of course, it would be insanely expensive to geofence the entire course, but if you stick with the balcony of the club house and maybe the gorgeous tee box on the 18th hole, then that $450 investment might pay off big. If golf courses are really trying to become more popular among the 18-34 year olds, why not meet them where they are, and where they are is Snapchat.

If only five people per day take a Snapchat, see the geofilter, and add it to their story, then that’s about 500 impressions every day. Multiply that by 365 days = 182,000 impressions. That’s $2.47 per 1,000 impressions, which isn’t that expensive. Plus, it’s not an annoying ad. It’s a friend suggesting friends that this place is cool and you guys should come here.

A Snapchat geofilter could have an exponential return as well. As more and more people come across the geofilter and share it with all of their friends, their friends are going to come play and share it with their friends. And on and on. If golf courses are really trying to gain interest in what could be the next generation of avid golfers, it’s time to talk to millennials in their preferred medium. Social media is here and it’s here to stay. Businesses that learn to shift and pivot will win and those that don’t will lose.

I got in touch with Grant Cardone, a real estate and marketing mogul, who had this to say about Snapchat.

“I’m 59 years old, I have hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate, and I use Snapchat as a tool to grow my brand and business.”

Just like Mr. Cardone has utilized Snapchat to grow his company, the golf industry needs to capitalize on this new opportunity to grow the game among the next generation of golfers.

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Joe is studying business at the University of Georgia. He loves golf and occasionally writes for WRX when he's not studying, hanging out in downtown Athens, playing the university course, or managing his social media marketing agency, Samuel 17. With golf participation on decline, he recently discussed how golf courses can use social media to increase revenue.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Phil Yang

    Aug 25, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    The golf industry needs to focus on retaining the golfers. I left my club in disgust because the lousy way I was being treated. The club focused very hard in trying to recruit new members but stopped trying to accommodate current members. If the golf industry made sure the current golfers are happy to be golfers, that may create a more desirable effect than bending every which way in an effort to attract new golfers. Personally, I’m intrigued more by other’s passionate endeavors than by somebody trying to trick me into liking something I’ve no interest in.

  2. Katie

    Aug 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    @Ryan I think the article is bang on in terms of appealing to the 18-34 target. Youtube requires a lot more resources (video content, filming, editing, promotion of finished content), Instagram doesn’t exactly have rave reviews when it comes to ROI for ads and the majority of that demo is one of the smallest/least engaged targets on Facebook (especially when looking at ad stats/view rates). I’d say using Snapchat to engage 18-34 year olds is a smart, cost efficient, time-saving solution for golf courses and any brick and mortar businesses as long as they promote their usage of Snapchat properly.

  3. Allan A

    Aug 24, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Millennials and American youth only play golf to clown around and display their humorous incompetence. It’s not a sporting event, it’s a bash. Nobody that age takes golf seriously as a worthwhile pastime.
    If you want to grow the game in these age cohorts you gotta make it cheap, even free for an introductory period. Nobody is gonna pay hundreds of $$$ to clown around for 5 hours on a golf course.

    • Joe Burnett

      Aug 24, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      While I do see your point, I will have to disagree because I and many guys I play with are not ones to “clown around incompetently”. It’s important that people learn the rules and respect the course as well as the people playing around them- absolutely. Fortunately, not all millennials and teens are immature, and many actually have a passion to improve their scores. If golf continues to not capture the interest of the next generation, it will continue to see the number of avid golfers slide to record lows.

  4. Port

    Aug 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

    People waste enough time on the phone as it is we don’t need it trickling on to the golf course.

  5. Ryan

    Aug 23, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    So… interesting article – I especially appreciated the CPM breakdown of just five snaps per day. Smart approach.

    However, a more thorough (and potentially richer overall) article might have detailed the advertising options available to golf courses/businesses across all of the social platforms.

    In particular, you gotta be careful with the following language: “If golf courses are really trying to become more popular among the 18-34 year olds, why not meet them where they are, and where they are is Snapchat.”

    If one was targeting Americans 18-34, it wouldn’t be difficult to argue that Facebook, Instagram or YouTube might be a wiser investment of a golf course’s marketing dollars.

    • Joe Burnett

      Aug 24, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks for the comment Ryan! I definitely think golf courses should utilize other social platforms, particularly Instagram then Facebook. I have a client on doing Facebook & Instagram ads now seeing around a $11 CPM. I think Snapchat is something that local businesses should jump on because of the value it provides in relation to other advertising platforms. Of course Facebook & Instagram are much more scalable in comparison to Snapchat Geofilters, but overall, a Snapchat geofilter particularly will give you more bang for your buck. Maybe I will write a follow up piece about Facebook, Instgram, & YouTube!

  6. carl spackler

    Aug 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    is this really a thing? i dont want to grow the game if it means i have to play behind group snap chatting half the time

    • Joe Burnett

      Aug 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      I definitely agree with pace of play. However, this is an additional reason I think golf courses should stick with the minimum of 20,000 square feet for their geofilter. Give players the opportunity on to use the filter only on the beautiful 18th hole and watch more and more people come give golf a try.

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: USC head golf coach Chris Zambri on the challenges that will come with the new NCAA rules

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In this Special Edition of The Gear Dive, USC Men’s Head Golf Coach Chris Zambri discusses his thoughts on the new NCAA mandates, how to get recruited, and the pros and cons of recruiting can’t-miss superstars.

  • 9:55 — Zambri discusses thoughts on new rule
  • 17:35 — The rule he feels is the toughest navigate
  • 26:05 — Zambri discusses the disadvantages of recruiting a “can’t miss” PGA star
  • 32:50 — Advice to future recruits
  • 44:45 — The disadvantages of being tied to an OEM as a college golf team

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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