This week Charlotte asks: Is team golf the key to growing and sustaining participation in the sport?
Golf has long been a sport associated with individual performance. But there’s a growing trend towards team golf that, I think, could revolutionise the game and enhance its appeal to a wider audience.
And I’m not only talking about Solheim Cup-esque matches. Scrambles, shambles and betterball competitions are gaining popularity.
Here are the reasons behind the shift towards team golf and why more focus on it could help ensure the game’s continued success.
Camaraderie and social interaction
One of the primary advantages of team golf is its ability to foster camaraderie and social interaction.
Golf can often be a solitary sport, but team golf introduces an element of teamwork and companionship, And that makes it more appealing to people who crave the social aspects of sports. Team competitions create bonds and friendships that can keep players engaged and returning to the game.
And a little bit of rivalry goes a long way too. It’s great to roll in a birdie putt in your monthly medal. But knowing you rolled it in to lead your club to victory in a team match is something else altogether.
Just look at the Solheim Cup last weekend, and the Ryder Cup now. Whether you play golf or not, you can’t help but be drawn in by the drama and electric atmosphere. And it opens the game up to people who otherwise wouldn’t give golf a second thought.
Suspense and excitement
In any sport, there’s something magical about team events. And golf is no exception.
The feeling of winning as a solo golfer is brilliant. But being in the winning pair in a shambles match is even better. It’s a different level of suspense and excitement. And it’s contagious, and it will keep you coming back for more.
Attracting and keeping people in golf
Team golf can also be a powerful tool for introducing newcomers to the sport. The traditional 18-hole rounds can be intimidating for beginners, especially young golfers. Team formats, like scrambles and betterball, give newcomers the opportunity to ease into the game without as much pressure, making golf more accessible to a broader demographic.
Research also suggests that women are more likely to be sustained longer term in a team activity rather than in an individual sport. So focusing on introducing more team formats of golf could go some way in retaining women and girls in the game.
I’m not going to beat it round the bush here: Team golf is better to watch. We live in a fast-paced world, and we’re used to getting things immediately. Traditional tournaments are spread out and slow, whereas team events offer immediate excitement and drama.
Watching teammates strategise, collaborate, and celebrate together is more dynamic and engaging, which can attract a broader audience and boost the sport's popularity.
All about the balance
I’m not for a second saying there’s no place for traditional formats of the game. As team golf gains momentum, it coexists alongside conventional golf.
And it’s that balance that will ensure the game remains relevant, appealing, and accessible to a broader and more diverse audience in the years to come.
What do you think? As an industry, should we be focusing more on team golf? Let me know your thoughts by emailing [email protected].