As Rory McIlroy was making history to become the first European to win three different majors, the 143rd Open Championship proved comparatively special to SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. (SMS INC.) who hosted their 30th golf industry lunch during the Championship.
For a fifth year, SMS INC. teamed up with the British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) to stage the Golf Industry Lunch in support of the Golf Foundation’s initiative HSBC Golf Roots. The lunch is a major annual event and was attended by well over a 100 of the industry’s most influential personnel at Royal Liverpool Golf Club (on Wednesday, 16 July).
The occasion traditionally serves as an opportunity for those present to share ideas and new perspectives on the expansion of golf, and how they (the industry representatives) can best work together to move these discussions along to benefit the game and all involved.
During the lunch, John Bushell, Managing Director of SMS INC., gave his – some may say – “eagerly anticipated” speech that included some captivating fast facts from golf, as well as a multitude of other sports, including insight into European golf’s dominance – 39% of the last 18 Major Championships have been won by European golfers despite European golfers only accounting for 13% of global golfer numbers – and levels of participation giving a special mention to National Golf Month which facilitated the increase in the amount of golf being played for that month*.
With the need to focus on increasing play frequency whilst delivering a fun sport in a family atmosphere, there is much for the industry to embrace.
Elite player equipment usage of different sports worldwide was an equally relatable topic covered by Bushell, given the leading sports research company’s presence at The Open to perform the official equipment census of all Open Championship competitors. Of particular interest was the continued decline of the use of the Long/Belly putter on the European tour which has dropped by 9 percentage points over the past two years.
The event was well received, and as always SMS INC. and their partners the Golf Foundation and BGIA were commended for hosting the industry stakeholders. Along with McIlroy – a charismatic young Brit taking home the Claret Jug – it appears that golf is in good hands, with some exciting initiatives to look forward to.