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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.

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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.

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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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Courses

Coming Up: A Big Golf Adventure

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My name is Jacob Sjöman, and I’m a 35-year-old golf photographer who also enjoys the game we all love. I will be sharing some experiences here on a big golf trip that we are doing. With me I’ve got my friend Johan. I will introduce him properly later, but he is quite a funny character. According to Johan, he is the best golf photo assistant in the world, and we will see about that since this is probably his biggest test yet doing this trip. Previously on our trips, Johan almost got us killed in Dubai with a lack of driving skills. He also missed a recent evening photo shoot in Bulgaria while having a few beers to many… and that’s not all.

Anyway, the last couple of days I’ve been packing my bags over and over. I came home from the Canary Islands this Sunday and I’ve been constantly checking and rechecking that we’ve got all the required equipment, batteries, and that the cameras are 100 percent functional and good to go for this golf trip. I’m still not sure, but in a couple of minutes I will be sitting in a taxi to the airport and there will be no turning back.

Where are we going then? We are going to visit some of the very best golf courses in New Zealand and Australia. There will be breathtaking golf on cliffsides, jaw-dropping scenic courses, and some hidden gems. And probably a big amount of lost balls with a lot of material produced in the end.

I couldn’t be more excited for a golf journey like this one. Flying around the globe to these special golf courses I’ve only dreamed about visiting before gives me a big kick and I feel almost feel like a Indiana Jones. The only thing we’ve got in common, though, is that we don’t like snakes. Australia seems to be one of the worst destinations to visit in that purpose, but all the upsides are massive in this.

First, we will take off from a cold Stockholm (it’s raining heavily outside at the moment) and then we will do our first stop at Doha in Quatar. Then after two more hours, we are finally heading off to Auckland on the north island of New Zealand, a mega-flight of 16 hours. I believe that could very well be one of the longest flights available for a ordinary airplane. I need to check that.

Flights for me usually mean work, editing photos from different golf courses I’ve visited, writing some texts, editing some films, and planning for the future. Last time, though, I finally managed to sleep a little, which is a welcome progress for a guy that was deadly scared of flying until 2008.

Now, I am perfectly fine with flying. A few rocky flights over the Atlantic Sea to Detroit helped me a lot, and my motto is now, “If those flights got me down on the ground safely, it takes a lot of failures to bring down a plane.”

Anyway, I hope you will join me on this golf trip. Stay tuned!

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Opinion & Analysis

Be Curious, Not Critical, of Tour Player Swings

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After a foul ball by a tour player, the talking heads on TV are often quick to analyze the “problem” with that swing. Fair enough, I suppose. Even the best players are human and our game has more failure than success. But I’d like to offer a different take on swings of the best players in the world.

First, let’s remember how good these guys and gals really are. If you met up with the lowest ranked player on any professional tour at a public course one day, I’ll bet that golfer would be the best golfer most of you have ever played with. You’d be telling your buddies in the 19th hole about him or her for a very long time. These players have reached a level of ball striking most people only dream about. That’s why I’m more curious than critical when it comes to a tour player’s swing. I’m not thinking about what he/she needs to do better; I’m thinking, “How do they do it so well?” In other words, I want to know how they put their successful move together. What part goes with the other parts? How did their pattern evolve? What are the compatible components of their swing?

Let’s use Jim Furyk as an example. Furyk has what we might call an “unconventional” move. It’s also a swing that has won nearly $70 million and shot 58 one day. But I’ll offer him as an example because his swing illustrates the point I’m making. From a double-overlapping grip, Furyk picks the golf club up to what might be the most vertical position one would ever see from a professional. Then in transition, he flattens the club and drops it well behind him. Now the club is so flat and inside, he has to open his body as quickly as he can to keep the club from getting “stuck.” Let’s call it an “up-and-under loop.”

Let’s take Matt Kuchar as a counter example. Kuchar’s signature hands-in, flat and very deep takeaway is pretty much the total opposite of Furyk. But he comes over that takeaway and gets the club back into a great position into impact. We’ll call that an “in-and-over” loop.

Both are two of the best and most consistent golfers in the world. Is one right and the other wrong? Of course not. They do have one thing in common, however, and it’s that they both balanced their golf swing equation.

What would happen if Kuchar did what Furyk does coming down? Well, he wouldn’t be on TV on the weekend. If he did, he’d be hitting drop kicks several inches behind. That doesn’t win The Players Championship. The point is that the Furyk downswing is incompatible with the Kuchar backswing, and vice versa, but I’m guessing they both know that.

How can this help you? My own personal belief and the basis of my teaching is this: your backswing is an option, but your downswing is a requirement. I had one student today dropping the arms and club well inside and another coming over the top, and they both felt better impact at the end of the lesson. I showed them how to balance their equation.

My job is solving swing puzzles, a new one very hour, and I’m glad it is. It would be mind-numbing boredom if I asked every golfer to do the same thing. It’s the teaching professional’s job to solve your puzzle, and I assure you that with the right guidance you can make your golf swing parts match. Are there universal truths, things that every golfer MUST do?  Yes, they are the following:

  1. Square the club face
  2. Come into the ball at a good angle
  3. Swing in the intended direction
  4. Hit the ball in the center of the face (method be damned!)

But here’s the funny part: Let Kuchar or Furyk get off base and watch every swing critic in the world blame some part of the quirkiness of their move that has led to their greatness. When players at their level get off their game, it’s generally due to poor timing or that they lost the sync/rhythm that connected their individual parts. The same holds true for all of us. We have to find the matching parts and the timing to connect them. You might not need new parts.

After all, weren’t those same parts doing the job when you shot your career low round?

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Opinion & Analysis

The numbers behind “full scholarships” in NCAA men’s college golf

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If you are in the world of junior golf, you’ve probably heard about a young man you know who’s getting that coveted full ride to college, maybe even to a Power-5 school. With all the talk in junior golf about full scholarships, and a lot of rumors about how many are available, we decided to poll coaches and gather some real data about “full scholarships.”

So, what did we find out? In total, we got responses to a voluntary online survey from 61 men’s D1 coaches, 19 men’s D2 coaches and 3 NAIA coaches (83 total). On average, the coaches in the survey had 11.8 years of coaching experience. Of the coaches that responded, 58 of the 83 coaches reported having zero players on full ride. Another 15 coaches surveyed reported having one player on full ride. This means that 69 percent of the coaches surveyed reported zero players on full scholarship and 18 percent reported one player on full scholarship, while another four coaches reported that 20 percent of their team was on full ride and six coaches reported between 2-3 players on full ride.

We then asked coaches, “what percent of golfers in Division 1 do you think have full scholarships based on your best guess?” Here’s what the responses looked like: 25 coaches said 5 percent and 36 coaches said 10 percent. This means that 73 percent of respondents suggested that, in their opinion, in men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA, there are less than 10 percent of players on full ride.

Next, we asked coaches, “what was a fair scholarship percentage to offer a player likely to play in your top 5?” The average of the 83 responses was 62.5 percent scholarship with 38 coaches (46 percent) suggesting they would give 30-50 percent and 43 coaches (52 percent) suggesting 50-75 percent. Only two coaches mentioned full scholarship.

The last question we asked coaches, was “what would you need to do to earn a full scholarship?”

  • Top-100 in NJGS/Top-250 in WAGR – 41 coaches (49 percent)
  • 250-700 in WAGR – 19 coaches (23 percent)
  • Most interesting, 17 coaches (20 percent) noted that they either did not give full rides or did not have the funding to give full rides.

The findings demonstrate that full rides among players at the men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA levels are rare, likely making up less than 10 percent of total players. It also suggests that if you are a junior player looking for a full ride, you need to be exceptional; among the very best in your class.

Please note that the survey has limitations because it does not differentiate between athletic and academic money. The fact is several institutions have a distinct advantage of being able to “stack” academic and athletic aid to create the best financial packages. My intuition suggests that the coaches who responded suggesting they have several players on “full rides” are likely at places where they are easily able to package money. For example, a private institution like Mercer might give a student $12,000 for a certain GPA and SAT. This might amount to approximately 25 percent, but under the NCAA rules it does not count toward the coach’s 4.5 scholarships. Now for 75 percent athletic, the coach can give a player a full ride.

Maybe the most interesting finding of the data collection is the idea that many programs are not funded enough to offer full rides. The NCAA allows fully funded men’s Division 1 programs to have 4.5 scholarships, while Division 2 programs are allowed 3.6. My best guess suggests that a little more than 60 percent of men’s Division 1 programs have this full allotment of scholarship. In Division 2, my guess is that this number is a lot closer to 30 percent.

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