1. GOLF’S TRADITIONS ARE A TRAP
We get it. Values and history are part of golf’s sell. But for every sponsor that wants to reach blokes in chinos for financial services, several are looking for a sexy tech platform and innovation. This point was made by Chris Burton, head of sponsorship for business software firm SAP: “There is nothing for us to sponsor that showcases our technology.”
2. “WHAT WOULD RED BULL GOLF LOOK LIKE?” ISN’T A HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION
This question was asked on one of the panels, as though it was some future-gazing, blue-sky idea. But Red Bull was in golf five years ago. It left because it didn’t want to build golf’s database for it. Too many governing bodies to deal with, with too little information on who plays the game.
3. WHAT THE TOURS SAY AND DO MATTERS. A LOT
Women. Minorities. Ties in the clubhouse. Mobile phones on the course. Fear of the new etc etc etc.
4. DISRUPTION WILL HAPPEN TO GOLF; IT WON’T BE IN CONTROL OF IT
If you wanted to construct a communications plan to position golf as a complacent, backward looking sport, the interview given by the PGA Tour’s Tim Finchem at the Forum would be how to go about it. He wasn’t sitting in a leather-backed chair holding a cigar and brandy. But in my head he was.
5. CLOSE YOUR EYES AND IT’S AS THOUGH THE FINANCIAL CRASH NEVER HAPPENED
The language of course developers has evolved to incorporate mentions of sustainability, both financial and environmental. But they still want to build big green courses in areas of the world that are over populated and in danger of running out of water.
6. SNOWBOARDING SAVED SKIING
This comment – from Dana Garmany of Troon Golf in a private round table with Burton, KPMG’s Andrea Sartori and Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management – was the smartest thing I heard. Skiing was dying on its feet. Too stuffy. Hidebound by rules and snobbishness. Enter the boarders, with caps the wrong way around, and they blew the snow business up. Twenty years later, those boarders are skiing. Ringing any bells?
Richard Gillis is a journalist specialising in sports business and author of the blog www.unofficialpartner.co.uk Follow him on Twitter @RichardGillis1