How could Fungolf entice people to golf?

By: January 8, 2019

In the National Golf Foundation’s 2018 Golf Industry Report I found that in 2017 were:

  • 23.8 million people who played golf on a course in 2017 — the same as a year earlier.
  • Another 8.3 million only played off-course, a year-over-year increase of 7%, putting the game’s overall participant pool at about 32 million.
  • Approximately 35% of newcomers are women, while 26% are non-Caucasian.
  • 70% of the newscomers are under the age of 35.
  • An estimated 21 million people hit golf balls with a club at off-course locations, with Topgolf the most popular form of engagement.

As we can see from this US-focused study that golf is not dead and the composition of our potential customers and guests is becoming more colorful and diverse.

Some of the major golf club management companies (e.g. Troon, ClubCorp) and golf equipment manufacturers (Callaway Golf, TaylorMade) understood quite soon the business potential of off-course golf entertainment venues like:

  • Topgolf: has 38 U.S. and three venues in the UK. In 2017 signed a strategic alliance with ClubCorp. Thus, ClubCorp‘s 430,000 members will be able to enjoy special offers from Topgolf. In 2017, Topgolf had 13 million customer visits + overall averaged more than 35,000 customer visits per day. The PGA Tour, PGA of America and LPGA have promotional partnerships with Topgolf. Even Mastercard has recognized the potential in Topgolf. Topgolf states that about 51% of its customers are non-golfers, 27% are occasional golfers, and 14% moderate golfers.
  • 4ORE! Golf – backed by Troon: a 52,000-square-foot golf and entertainment facility with seating for 150 guests, located in Lubbock, Texas. It provides a mix of golf, food, and fun for the entire family. Players of all ages and skill levels will hit golf balls from one of 60 climate-controlled tee boxes that can host up to six players at a time. Their system is powered by Bigshots Golf Technology.
  • BigShots – backed by ClubCorp. Actually, it is a joint venture between the two companies. ClubCorp is planning to introduce BigShots Golf technology to consumers through BigShots Golf state-of-the-art entertainment venues, and BigShots Golf Indoor Simulators, a digitally-simulated play and gaming experience. BigShots Golf boasts Doppler radar shot tracking on games and golf course simulations. You will be able to ask questions from them at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida.
  • Drive Shack is backed by TaylorMade. The first Drive Shack venue was opened in March 2018. It is a 60,000-square-foot venue at 7285 Corner Drive in Lake Nona’s Sports and Performance District. The three-story, indoor/outdoor all-weather golf-entertainment complex features 90 hitting bays, a Free Play Game Lounge with classic games like shuffleboard, skeeball and Pac-Man, a full-service restaurant and bar, an outdoor lounge and three fully equipped meeting and event rooms. It has plans to develop venues in Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; West Palm Beach, Florida; Marietta, Georgia; and New Orleans. 

As I said above, not only golf club management companies but golf equipment manufacturers found the above-mentioned golf entertainment venues attractive.

For instance, not just TaylorMade, but Callaway Golf has also invested in golf entertainment venues.

Actually, Callaway Golf was the first to invest in such a business. Callaway Golf has already invested $70.5 million in Topgolf since 2006.

Topgolf and DriveShack estimate the cost of such venue between $15 million and $25 million depending on location.

At this moment, Drive Shack has got the most complex offer by offering conference and meeting room services as well.

Fungolf - from outside

The rising popularity of eSports

Meanwhile, we cannot pass by the rising popularity of eSports.

Can you imagine a Call of Duty competition in the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden?

According to Esports research house Newzoo, 2016 revenue totaled $493 million and is projected to rise 37% to $1.1 billion by 2019.

eSport it is rapidly gaining in terms of numbers of spectators. I think if we want to engage the Millennials & Generation Z then we have to utilize what eSports can offer to us.

Lagadère found that:

  • 1.5 billion people amuse themselves with video games.
  • 365 million people consume and watch eSports events. 
  • eSports will be an officially recognized competition at the 2020 Asia Games.
  • 700 million dollars have been spent on eSports in the past year

I highlighted this phenomenon because it can help us to build more successful golf entertainment venue plus attract such people who otherwise would not consider golf.

I consider both of them as a technical sport. It is also a good idea if you want to attract more young people to your golf club. Thus, parents can bring with themselves, their kids as well.

Fungolf – golf entertainment in the French way

Not so long time ago, Stéphane Turc, a French entrepreneur contacted me via LinkedIn with his Fungolf project idea.

He said that the FUNGOLF Concept embraces the latest changes in our societies. For instance, the severe time constraints of people.

They are targeting non-golfers.

They believe in urban golf as it is less time consuming and can be a great place for fun events.

The goal of Fungolf is to reach all audiences in France regardless of their age, gender, single or married, golfers, non-golfers etc.

Stéphane Turc told me “we would like to create some kind of network in Europe with all the Golf Range Facilities like FUNGOLF Concept, GolfLounge, etc to allow the new generation of Golfers, which are nomadic to be able to enjoy in each city such kind of complex where they can enjoy the game of golf.”

They plan to build 15 venues in France in cities like Nice, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, and Paris.

An interesting innovation or a marketing gimmick, they enable their guests to pay with bitcoins.

Lead generation for golf clubs: Fungolf, Topgolf etc.

Although I am happy that off course golf entertainment is blooming, I cannot avoid asking golf club managers:

  • Are you ready to cooperate with such venues to attract new people to your golf club?
  • Would you cooperate with these venues like ClubCorp is doing?
  • Could you imagine creating a special service or product with these venues to be more attractive?

If you have any other lead and sales generating ideas, then write them in the comment box below! Thanks.

Finally, did you know that Topgolf joined England Golf‘s affiliation program?

Fungolf infographics