ShortGolf CEO, Kelly McCammon talks junior golf and beyond.
In the past, we were fortunate that the exposure of golf on TV and the growth of new courses increased junior golf. In addition, organized activities like soccer were not that relevant. Then, as more organized sports became available to youngsters, interest in junior golf diminished. Also, moms were making the majority of decisions for their children and evaluating choices. In many cases, golf was not an option.
The new efforts with PGA Junior Golf Leagues, Drive, Chip & Putt and the LPGA Girls Golf programs, along with The First Tee programs, have created more organized opportunities. These programs should continue to thrive and ideally golf will start to compete with sports like soccer. ShortGolf is excited to reach millions of kids when they are choosing sports at ages 4-6 and, hopefully, we will becomes the feeder
system into the game of golf.
What’s missing in terms of getting younger people involved in golf?
We need to focus on the four to seven year olds and duplicate what the sporting industry has developed. For example, when a mother takes her daughter or son and looks for an after school program she will have options at the schools, parks and recreation, Boys & Girls Clubs, camps and other facilities. In all of these locations they have six to eight week programs meeting at least twice per week. All the sports like soccer, basketball, t-ball, etc. have modified equipment, they can play immediately and it is recreational. We need to have golf as an option, have modified equipment like all the other sports that they can play immediately and offer recreational events. This creates a massive feeder system into programs like the PGA Junior Golf Leagues that start at age eight, Drive , Chip & Putt and the LPGA Girls Golf programs.
What role do you see public schools especially in America playing with golf development?
The public schools are part of the infrastructure needed for future golf development. Currently, The First Tee is in 10,000 schools (5 million kids) and ShortGolf is now the equipment being implemented. The gap in the current schools is organizing more after school golf leagues like soccer. Then, if the boys and girls want to continue in learning golf they are connected to a First Tee facility or a PGA golf course, or any nearby programs at golf courses. Ideally, they would then be signing up for PGA Junior Golf Leagues, and/or Drive, Chip & Putt or LPGA Girls Golf.
Part of your efforts are on developing global strategic partnerships. Where are such efforts now and what specific steps are being taken?
We currently have ShortGolf in over 50 countries. The R&A has placed ShortGolf into 47 countries. We are working on partnerships with different golf academy companies in different countries to connect the schools with ShortGolf and feed into their academies. In some locations like China there are not many golf courses, so if a child takes ShortGolf in a school they would then link to a golf academy to continue. We look at the infrastructure of each location and create a flow chart for the progression from ShortGolf into golf. In addition, we are working with a global sports company that specializes in league play.
We have started to test and plan to roll out in the spring of 2019 a monthly global event online. We are able to send six hole set ups to all locations and everyone around the world plays the same six holes. This has never been done and we are ecstatic about thousands of kids playing the same six holes against each other and we are including educational components about different countries, cultures etc.
Golf has always had a socio – economic split between those with disposable income and those with far less. How do you see your efforts bridging that divide?
The best part about putting ShortGolf into the schools with The First Tee is the demographic studies show a much higher percentage of kids graduating from high school that have taken the The First Tee program than if they didn’t. Two results occur from this: one, they are better educated by getting a high school diploma; secondly, they might not start golf in their teens but when they are adults and earning an income we believe a higher percentage will have a great memory from starting and learning golf in school and could decide to take up golf again as an adult.
We will see in the future as more adults start golf and we conduct studies asking if they had a First Tee school program. In addition, as we put more ShortGolf programs into the parks and recreation facilities, along with the Boys & Girls Clubs, the demographics of minorities are higher. Finally, we have started some testing at universities. This curriculum would be for the value of learning golf and business relations for both women and men.
How will you measure your success – or failure in your present position?
If we focus on providing life skills content and fabulous programming with many partnerships and we reach millions of young lives, the results will be evident. In business it’s all about the bottom line, but more importantly better skills for life.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
The golf industry has many silos and each silo is focused on their initiative, so to have a governing body organizing all the groups to be more cohesive.
Best advice you ever received – what was it and who from?
My grandfather, always be thinking about others and how fortunate we are.
The biggest challenges facing ShortGolf short term and long term are what?
Short term, linking the structure globally, creating revenue and consistency. In the long term, future competition and other technology like virtual reality creating new ways to start golf.
On Course Strategies
Jane Dally Jane@oncoursegolf-pr.com
Pat Norton Pat@oncoursegolf-pr.com