Golf is Growing! In Non-Varsity Collegiate, at Least

Let's face it, the golf industry is not growing and everybody knows it. What's most scary about this not-so-new-news, however, is that some of the biggest declines are occurring in  junior and young adult golf that comprise the future players of the game. This issue isn't getting better in varsity golf as Title IX and budget cuts are slashing away NCAA varsity golf teams left and right. There happens to be one small segment--NCCGA--that is growing like wildfire despite feet of snow on the ground where many of our new teams are being started.

When Nextgengolf began operating the NCCGA at the start of 2013, there were approximately 50 NCCGA teams primarily located through the Southeast and Midwest. At the time, The NCCGA was run by a one-man magician, Matt Weinberger (now NCCGA Chairman), who was a Dayton student by day, NCCGA President by night, and a solid golfer despite all that he was juggling. Matt had a vision for the NCCGA and realized the value in partnering with Kris Hart and myself in our efforts to make golf more affordable for college students through CollegeGolfPass (now a Nextgen Collegiate Membership).

A few highlights over the 2013 season:

  • Officially announced a National Partnership with Cleveland Srixon Golf 
  • Expanded the national championships to a 36 hole venues with 200+ players
  • Headin' West: Texas, Northwest, California (now Pacific + Southwest Regions), and Mountain Regions are newly expanded regions as NCCGA has gone national
  • Formed a media relationship with Golfweek, check out the NCCGA landing page
  • Over 10,000 students are involved on club golf teams across the country
  • Hired a CTO, Mahesh Murthy, who formerly worked with Orbitz and Signal, and is now drastically improving Nextgengolf's technology, website, and digital presence
  • Expanded to 23 regions moving into the spring season and now have 200+ active teams

One of the big takeaways from our recent trip to the PGA show is that the industry is starting to realize the importance of Gen Y golfers. The numbers don't lie, a recent Boston Consulting Group study states:

Millennials represent the consumer market of the future, accounting for an estimated $1.3 trillion in direct annual spending. This sum will increase dramatically, says the report, as the first Millennials reach peak buying power. By 2030, U.S. Millennials will outnumber baby boomers 78 million to 56 million and are forming lifelong shopping preferences and habits

That golf industry "gets it" too; see below a recent slide published by the National Golf Foundation that highlights the 30% DECREASE in 18-34 year old golfers over the past 20 years, ouch:

Millennial Golf Stat

Kind of scary, right? For all those golf courses out there, learning how to market towards Millennials in this new digital age will be crucial as they try to remain relevant to young adult golfers that see and experience the game of golf differently than do our older counterparts. What's key to understand--and a crucial component of what we stand for at Nextgengolf--is to make the game of golf relevant for 18-29 year olds. That is not to say that we are trying to turn golf on it's head and upend all of it's traditional values. What it does mean, however, is that we are on a mission to help the industry become relevant for college and young adult consumers that have different values and buying preferences than our parents do.

Nextgengolf will continue to grow NCCGA non-varsity collegiate in full force this spring as we begin to prepare for the launching of Nextgen Graduate in major cities across the US this summer. Many of our collegiate members have asked us to help them stay in the game with graduate extension offerings. As a member driven organization, we couldn't turn that opportunity down and are thrilled for what lies ahead in 2014!