Matt Adams is a New York Times best-selling author, who has co-authored multiple books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Matt is an expert in golf equipment technology, having spent many years on the manufacturing side of the game, building and designing clubs for major brands including Nicklaus, MacGregor, Ram, Lynx and Wilson. He is also a professional sports broadcaster for the Golf Channel (Golf Central contributor) and PGA Tour Network, speaker, golf historian and golf travel writer. Matt is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Golf Travel Writers of America, Press4Golf (U.K.), National Association of Sports Writers and Sportscasters Association, Club Managers Association and Ancient Order of Hibernians. Matt is a perfect person to talk about the game and its many aspects. At the recent PGA Merchandise Show, Matt agreed to share his thoughts.
How would you describe the state of the game?
In a few words, the state of the game is not good enough. Golf is challenged by many growth barriers or the appearance of them including: it’s too hard to learn; new players facing embarrassment and quitting when don’t know how to play; and new players, especially young and women, not feeling welcome. Golf also can take too much time, and for the best quality conditions and experience, a round can be too expensive. It’s disappointing that golf hasn’t attracted as many baby boomers who were expected to be a growth opportunity for the game.
How can we get more people playing golf?
I support collaborative initiatives like Play Golf America because they bring together all the interested bodies: USGA, NGF, PGA Tour, PGA of America, etc. We also will benefit from introducing the game beyond the competitive nature of the sport. Golf is about what I call “a walk in God’s garden.” The game is about the companionship, the fun, the test versus yourself in handling adversity as well as playing the game. I also think all golf organizations should support and promote affordable, nine hole rounds, even if we forfeit 18-hole revenue at times. Imagine all the additional revenue a course gets from nine-hole events like leagues where players spend at the grill, pro shop, on carts, at the range, and build a bond with their course that only grows revenue. Clubs can only gain from recognizing that its revenue comes from more than just greens fees.
Why should a person take up the game of golf?
Golf is like meditation or a prayer. It’s a great game because of all its facets. Golf offers solitude and yet it’s the most social of games. You can compete with your friends and at the same time compete against yourself. It’s about ethics when you must call penalties on yourself, teaching us lessons beyond the fairway. And for people who fall in love with it, it’s more than just a game, it becomes a way of life.
What’s the most important gift that golf gives?
Golf brings out the best in everyone, and its cruelty is that it can bring out the worst. It demonstrates the value and importance of balance. In its purest form, it’s an opportunity to commune, know yourself, relax, engage in competition and make new and deepen relationships. There is no doubt that shared golf experiences grow relationships. Those who have been on a buddy’s golf trip will assure you that their relationship changes afterwards.
What makes golf business news?
There’s a dichotomy between what a product or organization believes is news and what actually is. Marketing and PR folks need to engage and know that news is foremost what somebody else wants to hear. The vast majority of news announcements, whether in releases, conferences, etc, circle around the news the sender wants you to hear, not what the recipient wants to hear. Organizations will benefit from knowing what the recipient cares to hear and hook him on what interests him. If it’s a new wedge for instance, you should hook into an established fact that 50% of your strokes are from 100 yards in and here’s how this wedge will help improve this important part of your game. Any marketer needs to pay attention to what the consumer is interested in and what his needs are, instead of only focusing on the message they want to send. You can have something to say, but if no one wants to hear it, it does you no good whatever.
How do you evaluate that for something like the PGA Merchandise Show?
It’s a simpler platform. I consider what the passionate and average fan will think of this introduction. When you think that way, you can develop a powerful message. So think for a minute, an average golfer wants a club or ball that’s longer, straighter and more consistent. He wants to play better, putt better and get out of a bunker easier. The PR manager will benefit from looking at that hierarchy of needs. For instance, on a driver, does it offer more stability at impact or allow him to square the face easier? Other questions might include is it longer, tested and proven in some demonstration? Do you have a celebrity that can endorse its superior design and performance like Tony Jacklin, a multi-Ryder Cup player and U.S. Open and Open Champion? If someone of that credibility endorses it that will get my attention. At the same time, I have seen some outlandish demonstrations, which could be a gamble. You want to make sure they don’t detract from the product’s message. Essentially, you’ve got to do more than just show up.
What’s your perfect golf day?
It would be on a golf course with my late father in Ireland. That might be a dream day for all of us because our dads really get many of us into the game. They are the gateway that starts and nurtures that lifelong passion for golf.
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