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The Gamification of the Golf Industry

We live in a world of ‘gamification’ and competition. We all love to compete and to demonstrate our knowledge in competition with others. There are very few households in which there isn’t one or more individuals that are “gamers” of some kind, especially with the increase in games for iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices.

TopGolf has helped kick golf into a growing game again among all age groups, especially Millennials and non-golfers. “It appeals to everybody,” says Erik Anderson, CEO of TopGolf, adding that the demographic breakdown is roughly 35 percent women.

It would be very difficult for private country club and public golf courses to bring the concept of ‘interactive driving ranges’ with tracking-chip golf balls and huge targets. However, private country clubs and public golf courses can integrate ‘gamification’ into their golfers experience in other ways.

Fantasy golf is a perfect example of bringing the concept of gamification to the golf industry. Fantasy golf is one of the fastest growing activities in the fantasy sports industry and can generate more engagement, interaction and competition for members of a private club.

With fantasy golf’s popularity increasing and increasing, this becomes particularly prevalent for the four PGA Tour ‘Majors’ (The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship), where a number of golf pro shops have offered a ‘Majors Pool’ for their golfers to participate in. However, these grass root attempts to bring fantasy golf to their club or golf course can be time consuming, overwhelming and not to the level of sophistication as expected by their golfers.

All of those negatives can be overcome by using technology to replace the “calculate the results at the end of the Major and post the results on the wall” style of Major Pools that have dominated the golf industry, until today.

One example of a private country club using an online fantasy golf game for their members is Omaha Country Club. The golf pro and general manager upgraded their Majors Pool and utilized online game for their membership to play and enjoy.

“The members loved the competition. And, they could follow the leader boards in real time while watching how they were performing against their fellow members,” says Dominick Mitchum, PGA Golf Pro at Omaha Country Club. “The ability and ease of using this game has allowed me to engage with the membership more and has saved me a lot of time by not having to calculate the scores by hand.”

The game was also a very positive revenue source for the club. As is commonly the practice of most Majors Pools, Omaha Country Club decided to use gift certificates to the pro shop as prizes for their winning members.

“The best part of the whole concept is the way online fantasy golf games have brought more golfing members into the pro shop with the certificates, has increased the number of rounds per member and has younger members participating in club activities,” says Dominick Mitchum.

An effective tool, such as the application of fantasy golf to the private club industry, encourages a level-playing field for competition and the ability to share their golf IQ and achievement. Humans are ‘hard-wired’ to enjoy games and have a natural tendency to interact more deeply in activities that are framed with a gaming concept.

Your golfing consumers expect their fantasy golf experience to be ‘top of the line’ in regard to technology and experience. Private clubs and public golf courses must enter the 21st century in the use of technology. Clearly, the days of creating and scoring your members’ Majors Pools with pen and paper is a thing of the past.


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