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A case for re-imagining long drive

Colin - Head Shot II copyRT’s Note: I’ve had several good chats with Colin McDougall while sitting at London’s Hunt Club or in a nearby Starbucks in recent months. Like most conversations I have people in the golf business, the situation inevitably leads to a discussion about the state of the industry. Colin, whose family ran the Accuform brand of golf clubs, is now a Professor of Golf Management in the 4-year degree program at Georgian College in Barrie. This is his final blog on the role long drive could play in golf. 

I don’t have erectile dysfunction.

Having said that, I’m pretty sure by the time it inevitably occurs I will have consumed so many ads for the prospective ‘cures’ to the global geezer-can’t-get-a-boner epidemic that I could literally list the endless concoction of ingredients, mind-numbing volume of side effects and collective commercial taglines for every pharmaceutical company’s proposed solution.

From a marketing perspective, the virtue and the curse of golf is that pretty much anyone can play it.  Whether you’re 7 years old or 70 years old you can play golf, thereby making the game itself a challenging vehicle through which very disparate brands try to communicate messages of influence to you in fervent pursuit of achieving their marketing goals.

The net result is that golf media consumers are consistently exposed to an insane tonnage of marketing messages that have nearly zero value to us – simply because we’re not the intended target recipient.

Case in point:

My 9 year-old son watches PGA Tour broadcasts with me almost weekly and absolutely loves the Golf Channel. Now I can only imagine what in God’s earth he thinks is happening when that ‘moment is right’ for the people in those Cialis ads that seem to come on during every commercial break.

Watching the scenery behind the characters metamorphosize from a contemporary kitchen to a full-on lair of lady love like frickin’ Optimus Prime from the Transformers when a couple shares ‘that look’ is not exactly an easy thing to explain to someone who just learned how to tie their own skates last month.

So exactly how does this relate to my case for a re-imagining of Long-Drive?

The content from a Long-Drive event can (and should) be much more targeted in terms of its desired audience – I say that’s the 18-34 year old male category.  Unlike golf, Long-Drive can (and should) break every marketing taboo about the game as we know it.  Here are a few examples of what I mean:

 

  • Branded players: Long-Drive guys should look more like Nascar drivers

nascar

  • Sex appeal – 400 yard drives + Hot girls = A good time out with the boys!

sexappeal

  • Logo-ing the fairway (or ‘the Grid’ as it’s referred to in Long-Drive)coors

 

If any of the above images offended you, that’s actually a good thing from a marketing standpoint as it likely means you’re outside the desired demographic (in which case, we wouldn’t care) or a hardcore golf traditionalist which is unlikely for an 18-34 male (and of whom we also wouldn’t care….).

If you’re outside the target demographic but cool with the concept and marketing, that’s just a bonus to the brands involved.

The key point is, there is far less waste in terms of hitting your intended target.  Those who do make time to consume your media are far more likely to be within your desired demographic thereby making your marketing budget far more efficient.

I could go on and on about what else could be done to aid in the re-imagining of Long-Drive and why, but perhaps it’s best to end here with a few questions in order to leave things open for more critical thought and imagination on your part…

Here goes:

 

  • If distance is what sells equipment (and it IS), then why don’t the Long-Drive guys influence driver sales the most? (Note: They do in fact use legal, USGA approved gear)
  • If professional golf consisted entirely of one U.S. Open each year (like Long-Drive only has its one, annual World Championship), what would the rest of the golf business landscape look like?
  • What if brands like Callaway, Taylormade, Nike & Titleist competed weekly the same way that Nascar (Chevy, Toyota, Ford etc.) does in terms of Long-Drive branded teams?
  • What if you could sit in the audience or at home/online and actually wager on Long-Drive (how far, over/under XXX yards, head to head match-ups, etc.) like people wager on other athletic pursuits?  Note: 4 players x 8 balls = 32 distinct outcomes which is far greater than any horse race…..
  • Can you order a club sandwich if you’re not a member?
  • Why don’t ‘vice’ brands (spirits, energy drinks, online gaming, etc.) use golf to reach their target audience?

I certainly appreciate that these blogs are, in golf terms, coming from about 3 fairways over!  So, I do want to make a point of saying thanks for hanging in and hope you enjoyed my view from askew on the upwards potential for Long-Drive.

Next time – back to some regular golf-y stuff!

 

 

 

 

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Who watches commercials? PVRs have been around for years – and you can gain lots of time by skipping over commercials as well as Tiger circling the hole lining up his putts.

    Does distance really sell equipment? Then what driver does the current driving distance leader on tour (Luke List of course) and do you think he sells more clubs then this Tiger Woods guy who currently ranks 64th in driving distance?

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