Here we are at Monday again and of course I spent a chunk of the weekend playing golf.
As you know, I think we can learn an awful lot about business (and life) from the game and I came across an article this morning that’s a perfect example of that. It’s on the USGA website and was written by an agronomist about course care in challenging times. What caught my eye is that he writes about a new business model for the game and of course that sort of thinking is exactly what we try to do in this space.
If you’re not familiar with what’s going on in the golf business, it’s a mirror of many others. The number of folks playing (the customer base) is down, those who do play are playing less (consumption), and the costs of maintaining and operating the business are always going up. Sounds like a lot of other industries. So let’s see if what he suggests might help some of those businesses.
First, he talks about making a difficult game easier. The USGA has a “tee it forward” initiative which encourages players to play from tees more appropriate to their skill level (which also speeds up play). The piece also gets into removing long rough and getting rid of many bunkers (sand traps) that make it hard for less-skilled golfers. While I have mixed feeling about that as a golfer, I do think that any business needs to take a hard look at barriers to usage. Playing golf badly is no fun just like spending hours trying to decipher a PC problem or fix an issue with your car can make veins pop out of your neck. Game manufacturers have long known this – almost every game offer the ability to set the difficulty level. How can you do that in your business?
Next he talks about controlling costs. In golf’s case it’s actions such as not cutting grass in some areas – there are out-of-play areas adjacent to tees that are mowed, irrigated and fertilized and acres of turf can be removed from many golf courses without altering the golf experience. It reminded me of a legendary story about the early days of Capital Cities Communications and how they were so cost-conscious they only painted the sides of the buildings that faced the roads. Where can you look at costs without impacting your product? It needs to be a regular evaluation.
Finally, he talks about using alternative grasses which will cut maintenance and stand up better to heat, etc. which provides a better play experience. This too is a great point for any business. While the product may not change (the game is the game!) making it a better user experience is a constant. No one likes to play a burnt-out golf course jut like no one likes any experience that doesn’t meet the brand promise that got them to the product n the first place. Lt’s put that on our “to do ” list as well.
What else can you come up with? Do you like what the author is saying?