PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- While millions watched the top golfers in the world compete in the season's first major this past week, the PGA of America was focused on getting those viewers out on the course to stem the golf industry's downward participation trend.
"We know there is great interest in golf," said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. "The final round of the Masters was viewed by millions of people…many of whom are watching but not playing. It's time for us to get those folks off the couch and onto the course."
To accomplish this, the PGA continues to promote Get Golf Ready, a player development program endorsed by the golf industry and operated by the PGA. Through GetGolfReady.com, consumers can find participating facilities in their area offering five lessons starting at $99. This program is the focus of a new $6 million integrated marketing campaign launched by the PGA in April.
Get Golf Ready, now in its sixth year, has a proven track record of introducing consumers to golf with nearly 86,000 participants in 2013. However, the golf industry has also recognized the need to identify non-traditional ways to grow the game.
In late April, the PGA will host the first meeting of the newly-formed PGA Task Force. Comprised of a diverse group of millennial, multicultural, female, industry and non-industry experts, the task force will develop and evaluate non-traditional concepts. In addition to Bishop, the group includes such wide-ranging members as Olympian Bode Miller, former USTA CEO Arlen Kantarian and former LPGA star Dottie Pepper.
"Golf does not have to be a nine or 18-hole experience," added Bishop. "We have to embrace new ways of bringing people out to the course to experience the beauty and health benefits derived from being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends."
One of the new initiatives being embraced by golf facilities is FootGolf. Launched in the U.S. in 2011, FootGolf is played on golf courses with a regulation soccer ball. Holes 21 inches in diameter are added to the course and players compete by kicking from a teeing area into the hole. Nearly 100 golf facilities are now offering FootGolf, where participants are playing alongside those playing traditional golf.