When will start the on-demand economy in the golf industry?

By: January 5, 2015

In the last couple of weeks I was thinking (inspired by The Economist‘s article) about how will the so-called on-demand economy change or modify the golf industry and the way we conduct golf club business.

I think there is a connection between smartphone penetration and the rise of the on-demand economy. Smartphones are a gateway to information and services. The on-demand  (let’s call it) movement is actually bridging the gap between real-world services and the online world. 

Mobile apps have simplified and eased the way we do certain tasks and they are in line with our on-the-go lifestyle (see the example of Homejoy or Housekeeper). Just to understand the size of this business: SherpaVentures raised $154M for a fund specifically targeting investment in on-demand businesses. Uber raised recently $1.2B (the new investors are BlackRock and Fidelity).

VC in OnDemand economy

Many companies find on-demand business models attractive because:

  • no need for offices;
  • no full-time contract employees;
  • clever use of computers to repackage one set of people’s needs into another set of people’s tasks etc.

This kind of business model will affect our perception of a good job. In the previous century, good job meant to be an employee of a particular company. We as employees knew what is our role and what kind of career we can reach within a certain company. This gave us a feeling of stability and predictability.

Temporary workers vs union membership

Did you know that half of American freelancers have turned to self-employment by choice rather than necessity?

So my bad news for those who value stability more than flexibility that they will not be enthusiastic from the on-demand economy.

How this affects the golf industry?

As golf participation is declining, golf clubs will not be able to afford to keep up such a big workforce than before. Golf operations managers will need to consider services of on-demand companies. Maybe the first step will look like Callaway Golf‘s promotion idea for the US Open Championship in 2013 where they cooperated with Uber.

After the recent global economic crisis, we remained with so many untapped/unexploited professionals in the golf industry. In addition to this golf clubs will have to cope with such phenomenon that they cannot add more people to the payroll due to hiring freeze, but we would like to solve a specific problem/work.

So I can imagine if there will be Uber-like companies in the golf industry they will provide employment opportunities, but in the on-demand business style. For those who are still working in the “old-school” way, they will be able to better utilize their idle hours, but they will also have to be prepared for all employment scenarios.

My bet, is that the first Uber-like company will be about golf club usage. So it will challenge the golf club rental businesses like ClubsToHire.