Prior to the Tiger Woods bursting on the pro golf scene in 1996, golf was seen as an exclusive and relatively unwelcoming sport. Thought to be the domain of middle-class males, the game has traditionally shunned by youngsters and played sparingly by women, while a lack of ethic diversity fueled debates about whether or not the sport could welcome minorities.
Woods' arrival changed this, at least to some extent, as not only did he transcend and popularize the sport, but he also introduced a fitness element that appealed to potential younger players.
Now that Woods' career appears to be on the wane, however, those who govern and lead the sport are trying to change its perception and secure its long-term future.
How is golf trying to be more welcoming?
The PGA Tour -- and other tours -- realize they need a younger audience, so they have developed new products, including Skratch, a new digital network to help target younger fans who have developed an interest in the sport. Leveraging numerous social media channels, the network taps into modern viewing tastes and preferences, which veer towards short and punchy videos as opposed to live, drawn-out coverage of tournaments. This respects the fact that millennial fans want to watch golf differently than previous generations and identifies a successful method for engaging this demographic.
The project was originally a collaboration between the PGA Tour and Bedrocket, and, at its best, it features short and engaging stories relating to the sport, focusing specifically on players' personalities, lifestyles and the events that occur behind the scenes at professional tournaments. Tournament footage and highlights are shared prolifically across social media, hopefully creating a new generation of golf fans and laying the foundation for the sport's future.
Getting more women in golf
The PGA of America and other golf bodies are also looking to encourage a larger number of women to take up the sport, so that its level of diversity an economic health can be sustained into the future. This is why the PGA decided to focus this year's National Golf Month on encouraging female players who are new to the game, while connecting them to local clubs and driving ranges in their local areas. At present, 15 percent of U.K. golfers are female, and while this number is growing, the PGA's objective is to bring it closer in line with the European rate of 25 percent.
The Bottom Line
These measures will hopefully build on the growth that the sport has enjoyed during the course of the last 20 years, ever since Tiger Woods first won a pro event in 1996. We have even seen a number of golf-inspired titles feature in the Royal Vegas casino slots library in recent times, as the sport continues to reach out and transcends its own boundaries.
Make no mistake; there is still work to be done for the sport to achieve its full potential in the UK. The long career of Tiger Woods has helped to revolutionize the sport, however, and the PGA is clearly keen to capitalize on this in a bid to target a new generation of fans.