Golf (and Tiger) on the Upswing in 2018!

For the first time in quite awhile, I made it a point to sit down and watch the final round of a televised tournament. The Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course on Innisbrook grabbed my attention to the point that I changed my typical routine on a Sunday afternoon. Why? One word…Tiger. Love him or hate him, there’s one undeniable quality that he’s always had, he’s good for the game and our industry.

Perhaps it’s just out of the fleeting desire to try and re-live the glory days of the past when Tiger dominated every event he entered. Certainly everyone remembers that, right? That was the time when the golf industry, in general, was reaping the benefits of growth in the game; the tee sheets were full, maintenance budgets were larger and the ownership was a little less grumpy. Ahh, the good ole’ days!

If, and it’s a big IF, Tiger can sustain his new found form which quickly translates into a, yet again, competitive golfer on the tour, those almost forgotten benefits will again become a reality in 2018. Simply understanding the direct relationship between Tiger’s success on the tour and the amount of golf the general population plays has been clearly tracked throughout his long and distinguished hall of fame career. When he contends in tournaments on Sunday, the golfers decide to play more golf. It’s just that simple.

The most interesting fact I heard on Sunday had to do with the odds makers in Vegas. When the week started, Tiger’s odds for winning this year’s Masters was at 100-1. By Sunday, the odds had dramatically changed to 10-1. That’s quite a move for only four days of play.

Betting odds change based on the amount of money placed. More money put down on the higher wager (in this case, 100-1) forces Vegas to reduce those odds to make the wager less appealing to the gamblers. In this case, however, the money kept rolling in on Tiger. That alone clearly illustrates the drawing power Tiger still possesses with today’s golfing fan who also occasionally likes to place wagers. In my experience, most golfers also like to place bets.

In terms of our industry, the theory of “trickle down” economics actually works. We will see more of the “casual golfer” pick up their sticks and head to their local course; assuming they can still find their way. More money will be spent on greens fees and food and beverage than what has been budgeted for. This uptick in play will jumpstart the competitive nature of course conditioning which will open up more funds to create a positive golfing experience for the golfers. In short, we’re going to be moving away from the maintenance philosophy of “just do enough to get by” and return to “make the course the best as you can”. What a refreshing change that will be.

Let’s all keep an eye on Tiger and pray his back doesn’t give out with his 129.2 mph club head speed. Seriously, he recorded the PGA Tour’s fastest clubhead speed of the season at Innisbrook. Hopefully at the end of the Masters we all feel like we should send him a Thank You card. Hopefully.