Don’t let footgolf be an own goal!

    Tony Clark isn’t convinced that footgolf is a panacea for golf’s ills and points out potential problems.

    Footgolf – it’s the new messiah, the saviour of the golf industry. Really? Let’s take a look at what’s happening here. A niche has been identified that brings new people and extra cash to golf clubs. It appears cheap and easy to set up and we know that it can generate instant and not insignificant cash. That’s a good thing, right? Or is it?

    Tony ClarkWhat’s the real objective here? Is Footgolf supposed to be the sprat to catch the mackerel, converting footgolfers to golfers? Or is it simply an opportunity to capitalise on what may be a fad and cash in whilst we can, creating a new and welcome revenue stream. I don’t believe it’s the former and I’ve no issue at all if it’s the latter.

    Frankly I’m in favour of anything that gets kids out the house, away from the gadgets, into the fresh air and moving their body more. Now of course you probably don’t want just kids; you want people with disposable income; working adults! Great, but have you considered the potential impact upon your existing customer base and your resource?

    You’re inviting a group of people into an environment with which many are unfamiliar. Their ignorance of etiquette and a dress code could easily be misinterpreted as showing disregard for the game and its rules but in many cases that will be far from the truth. People wandering onto the golf course when golfers are playing or continuing their football outside of the footgolf area is already occurring as is the wearing of jeans, trainers and football shirts in the clubhouse as sweaty footgolf players head to the bar for refreshments.

    So we now have the potential for a dilemma and for want of a better description, double standards in favour of the footgolfer. This will displease a club’s core customer and is very likely to have them reconsidering their options. But segregation would be expensive and probably undesirable.

    So I believe that if footgolf is to be introduced to your course that the key message is caution and analysis. Don’t jump in with both feet, make a plan. Try to bring your existing customers with you. Introduce it to them in the first instance with the opportunity to play. Set out the ground rules and take into account the likely concerns of your existing customer base. Don’t assume anything.

    If conversion to golf is a key objective then support your footgolf programme with incentives for footgolfers to subscribe to golf coaching; fun nights on the range; putting comps and so on. Analyse the success or otherwise of the programme, seeking regular feedback from your golfing customers.

    Finally check your insurance cover.  Does your existing policy include another sport being played on site? It may also be time to order that defibrillator you’ve been thinking of installing! Happy footgolfing!

    Tony Clark is Owner/Managing Director of PlaneSWING Golf and a business consultant with Clark Management Group Ltd. He can be contacted at 01604 830880 or by email at


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    Miles is the Owner and Managing Director of Robel Media, and the award winning GOLF RETAILING Magazine. With over 25 years in the media business, Miles has a wealth of experience in magazine publishing, digital media and live events. HANDICAP - 7.2