Global Edition

Rethinking Golf: How to reset golf for the new normal

3.38pm 29th July 2020 - Opinion

Golf courses should be at the heart of local communities, delivering simple, memorable experiences that enhance people’s lives.

That’s the vision of three golf industry pioneers whose thinking and business approach could shape the future of the game as it recovers from a pivotal moment in history – and resets for a new normal.

In Rethinking Golf, a new multimedia feature from Syngenta Growing Golf, the three thinkers set out to consider how to reposition golf by answering simple, yet fundamental, questions relevant to all golf course businesses:

  1. Why? Why are we doing this?
  2. What? What is golf’s promise?
  3. Who? Who are we?

The feature includes video interviews with Cathy Harbin, formerly a ClubCorp and World Golf Foundation executive who purchased her own course in Paris, Texas, aiming to elevate the town around golf.

Olympic golf course architect Gil Hanse speaks about the need to return to simplicity in golf, from the customer experience to course maintenance – and why it makes good business sense.

And John Ashworth, golf fashion designer and entrepreneur, who is now the owner – or ‘Chief Care Giver’, as he calls himself – of the popular 18-hole community short course, Goat Hill Park, in Oceanside, California, which was saved from development.

Cathy Harbin sums up some of the consistent themes when she defines the purpose of a golf course business: “We are to be part of a community and we are here to create memorable experiences for people to enhance their lives.”

She goes on to describe how her course business, positioned at the heart of a community, with proactive coaching in town parks and recreation spaces, has both benefited the community and brought business back to her course.

“I know what golf does to the energy of a town,” says Harbin. “I have seen the town elevated as a result of golf.”

Gil Hanse, Olympic golf course architect

In this video Gil Hanse explains why simplicity makes good business sense

The feature always draws on important research and data helping businesses understand and adapt for the ‘new normal’, including the rise of Generation Z, born entirely in the internet age and who will shape the next decade.

Mark Birchmore, Syngenta Global Head of Marketing, Turf and Landscape, who commissioned the feature, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that is likely to result in profound changes in society.

“In golf, it’s possible that some of the fundamental challenges and shifts we had started to see in the industry could now be accelerated.

“It’s also clear – as our speakers demonstrate – that significant opportunities are opening up for golf course businesses where they are attuned to the balance of sustainability relative to customers and communities, the environment and business.”

To read the full article and watch the interviews, visit:

To receive market insights and success stories of individuals and businesses transforming golf, visit Syngenta Growing Golf:

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