Was golf successful enough at the Rio 2016 Olympics?

By: December 2, 2016

One of the key topics of the 2016 HSBC Golf Business Forum was the evaluation of the participation in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Did you follow the golf tournaments of the Olympics?

What I see as a key challenge for the golf industry regarding the inclusion of golf in the Olympics is the perception of the gold medal and golf as a sport (and not as a leisure activity). 

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, Anthony Scanlon, International Golf Federation Executive Director and Jack Nicklaus said some interesting thoughts during their panel discussion:

  • Tim Finchem: “Anything that is golf related that young people can use to connect to the game is positive. It doesn’t matter what it is.”  Unfortunately, I have not seen any big buzz around the golf tournaments in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Did anybody measure and monitor social media what people are thinking and saying about golf’s inclusion in the Olympics? (Probably the best performing Twitter account was @OlympicGolf with 17.2K followers). The Olympic Golf YouTube channel had only 190 subscribers (vs. Golf Channel has got 25 909 subscribers).
  • Mike Whan: “..if you wanted to summarize where golf is now in 2016 in three words. ‘Global youth movement.” – Do we have  local programs/initiatives to harness the benefit of the participation in the Olympics?  What are we doing with the “low hanging fruits”?? Personally, I missed a globally coordinated program that builds awareness for the inclusion of golf in the Olympics and a “post-Olympics” activities.
  • Anthony Scanlon: “Golf at the Olympics was one of the great comeback stories of the year because the players embraced it. There is no other opportunity to showcase this sport to a global audience that the Olympics delivers for the game of golf. I know of no other initiative that causes hundreds of countries to invest in the future of the game of golf for both men and women. Only the Olympics can achieve this movement globally.”
  • Jack Nicklaus said it best here when he stated the world is changing and golf needs to change with it.

Finally, we should ask ourselves:

  • Did we do enough to maximize the reach of the broadcasts? Social media? Live streaming? Facebook Live? Periscope mobile app? etc. Facebook users are watching 100 million hours of video on mobile every day. 500 million are watching videos on Facebook every day. Is TV the new radio?
  • When we are working on to maximize reach, let’s not forget that we are in the so-called ‘attention economy‘. We are competing with other sports for the attention of the fans!!!
  • Did we do enough to maximize fan engagement? Mobile is the new reality for fan engagement. Mobile devices enable users to choose when, how, and with what content they engage.
  • If you did not have a strategy how to utilize the inclusion of golf in the Rio 2016 Olympics they why not. What will you do before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to activate inactive golfers and to attract more people to golf?