With more venues popping up across the country, indoor golf is on the rise. Here’s why – and why it matters.
A new trend is emerging and it’s one the industry shouldn’t ignore: Indoor golf.
Indoor golf venues aren’t just a place to turn to when it’s cold and wet outside. Top-class practice facilities, music and drinks are all part of the appeal of these increasingly popular spots.
They’re lively, and they give everyone the chance to try the game in a completely new way – whether you’ve played golf for years or are a complete beginner.
Indoor venues are changing the landscape of golf. And as an industry, there’s a lot we can learn from that. Adopting just some of the principles of these facilities has the power to transform the game by appealing to a completely new demographic of people, especially women.
Here’s why I think indoor golf is on the rise and what the industry should be doing to embrace it …
There’s no dress code
I don’t think we should abolish dress codes at golf clubs altogether, but I do think they need to be relaxed. Traditional golf club dress codes were made for men, by men. And that’s a big part of the problem – they don’t consider everyone’s comfort.
You can rock up at an indoor golf venue wearing whatever you feel comfortable in. Or whatever is convenient. Want to hit balls after work? Come straight from the office and don’t worry about bringing a change of clothes.
That’s the sort of mindset we should be applying to dress codes at golf clubs.
Everyone can join in
One of the best things about indoor golf is that you can literally play with anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you’ve played before. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t have any interest in golf at all; you’ll still have a good time.
Making golf that accessible is what will propel the game forward, and something the industry needs to not only recognise but nurture.
It takes as long as you want it to
I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but a huge barrier to participation in golf, especially amongst women, is time.
Families, work, life … it’s hard to carve out five odd hours to fit in a game of golf.
But the beauty of indoor golf is that you can spend as much time as you want there. Just want to hit a few balls to keep your swing in check? That’s fine. Want to spend hours on the simulator with your friends and wake up with a hangover? That’s fine too.
Across golf, we need to be introducing a bigger variety of formats to keep everyone engaged, however much free time you have.
Music and booze
What sets most indoor golf venues apart from your average driving range is the music and the bar. The dynamic shifts and, voila … golf is as much a night out as it is a sport.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a time and place for it. But more entertainment at golf clubs and golf tournaments is exactly what the game needs to open it up to a much wider audience.
I’ve seen it work. When I lived in Abu Dhabi, I couldn’t believe how many of my friends – people who had shown absolutely zero interest in golf before – went to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Why? Because they had live music, food trucks, loads of stuff for kids … it was the place to be in Abu Dhabi and it was about a lot more than just the golf.
Ultimately, I think what makes indoor golf venues such a hit is that they are so accessible.
They throw out the rule book of traditional golf and turn it into something that anyone can enjoy at any time. They fit around people’s lives (there’s a reason so many are in city centres, close to office spaces) instead of the other way around.
Looking for a cool indoor golf venue? Read our review of Pitch London.