I do my best to pay attention to trends in pop culture. Not because I’m a trendy guy—I wear the same jeans and sweatshirt just about every weekend—but to see if anything looks promising that could be applied to the golf industry.
Ironically, one of the “trends” for the past several years has been to be retro; to bring back those elements of style and culture that were once mainstream, but now seem to be hip, cool and above the mainstream. Some call it being “hipster” or “old school.” One example might be the games from our childhood being sold in Target as retro versions (i.e. Monopoly, Sorry! or Battleship). Another example, which takes retro too far in my opinion, is to see men with long, curated beards and curly moustaches, as though they’re living in the 19th century. Hey, to each his own, but it just looks like an anachronism. Sorry, I digress.
One example of “what’s old is new again” in the travel industry is camping or RVing. Family camping trips and Winnebago campers were all the rage decades ago, but then there seemed to be a time period when all of that went out of style. Timeshares, cruises, airplanes and resorts filled the travel space. But camping and RVing have come back into pop culture. Campgrounds, Airstreams and RV parks are all the rage again, but now with some updated amenities. There’s even a word for upscale, glamorous camping: glamping! People are even rediscovering train travel, as another throwback experience.
I have a friend who always seems to be one step ahead of the trends. He bought and sold web domain names 20 years ago and made a killing. He bought and ran a New England B&B and made a killing. A longtime craft beer enthusiast, he also started a Vermont restaurant and brewery and made a killing. And last year, he bought a small campground and RV park. You know what I’m expecting next, right? By the way, the guy only just turned 40.
I encounter a lot of people in golf who pine for the old days. The good ol’ days, when guys were in the parking lot before the sun on a Saturday morning. When golf pros could go out and play with the customers, rather than sit behind a desk crafting the next email campaign. When hitting 40,000 rounds was no big deal. Some may believe if we just do things like we used to, then we’ll get the results we used to. That maybe golf will make a comeback, like all of those other industries.
But here’s the secret: Those things never went away. Even when it didn’t appear popular, people still traveled by train, went to campgrounds, played Monopoly, stayed at B&Bs, grew strange styles of facial hair and drank beer. Some people today may think golf looks retro, and some may think we even look like an anachronism. No, the numbers aren’t what they were 20 years ago. But we’re not going anywhere. Regardless, let’s not be complacent in 2017. Look at yourself in the mirror, and look at your business. Then ask, “What am I doing differently this year?” Seriously. What are you going to do?