Mar 21st, 2017
R&A to focus on golf clubs
To broaden appeal of The Open
Words: John Dean Photography: Getty Images
The R&A will focus more of its marketing for The Open Chmapionship at golf clubs and general sports fans in an attempt to broaden the game’s appeal.
Chief executive Martin Slumbers believes getting more people to watch the Open is a similar challenge to increasing golf participation, and clubs can play a key role in aiding this. The fact that the R&A moved The Open from the BBC to SKy Sports cannot have helped this process in the first instance.
“We are going to apply as much marketing analysis as we can and I think there is a big short in our relationship with clubs,” he said.
“Certainly if you compare to say tennis, where tennis clubs and Wimbledon have a very close connection.
“I think there are many golf clubs who don’t even have the date for the Open Championship in their diary. I’d say there are more of them that don’t have any signage in the club about the Open, and probably more of them who don’t sell tickets. One of the things that we are doing as far as marketing is concerned is actually trying to build that connection with clubs.”
Slumbers also wants to raise the profile of the Women’s British Open.
“We talk about golf participation, but getting people to watch golf is also a challenge, and we’ve got to get the right product,” he said.
“The people that come and watch The Open, and I would say probably the same for The Women’s Open, tend to be golf clubbers.
“We need to move beyond that to sports lovers, who particularly want to see the very best women play in sport and trying to get an angle from both of those is part of our business plan.”
He also reiterated the need to get more women playing golf.
“I think the growth of the game will be driven by increases in family golf,” he said. “But, if you look at membership here in the UK for women members, they’re about 14 percent of club members.
“Countries on the continent where the game is growing, it’s in the 30s to 40 percent, and I think that’s a good benchmark for the game to really focus in on. I think women being more active with younger people is good for the game.”
Now that they have switched to Sky Sports they should have plenty of money to support these efforts. The fact that they admit that they have previously ignored golf clubs says a lot in itself. They really have been missing an open goal, if you will forgive the pun, and that they and golf as a whole have failed to engage properly with women is another blatant failing.