The PGA Tour says it has seen a 43% increase in website traffic from millennials year over year, and that 6.5 million millennials played 100 million rounds of golf in 2015, making up 28% of all golfers. The PGA Tour partially attributes these increases to digital efforts, including Snapchat live stories at several PGA Tour events, and SkratchTV, an Internet-only golf network.
An article published by CNBC posits that thanks to Jordan Spieth and digital marketing, millennials may have an increased interest in golf.
Spieth, 22, is currently ranked No. 1 according to the Official World Golf Ranking, and was the youngest player to win five times in a season since a 21-year-old accomplished the feat in 1929, CNBC reported.
To commemorate Spieth’s achievement, 8,000 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am attendees can take home a Spieth bobblehead and more can watch several Spieth bobblehead comedic online videos, courtesy of AT&T. It may seem out of line for the normally buttoned-up sport, but it’s part of a greater initiative to make golf cool again among younger audiences, CNBC reported.
“The PGA Tour is certainly looking to grow their fan base, and we’re seeking to grow our millennial consumer base,” said Ryan Luckey, AT&T’s assistant vice president of corporate sponsorships.
The death knell of golf among millennials has been often rung by the media, but the PGA Tour and its sponsors believe times are changing. Using a mix of showcasing millennial golf stars and digital media marketing, it believes it has millennials interested in the sport again. Since last year, Ty Votaw, chief marketing officer of the PGA Tour, said it has seen a 43% increase in its website traffic from millennials year over year, while its Twitter followers went up 39 percent in the same timeframe, CNBC reported.
Most importantly, Votaw said there’s a “healthy” number of millennials playing golf: The PGA Tour said that 6.5 million millennials played 100 million rounds of golf in 2015. The age group made up 28 percent of all total golfers, mirroring its percentage in the population, CNBC reported.
“There’s been a little bit of a misconception,” Votaw said. “That’s not to say that we think that’s enough millennials.”
The numbers are slightly lower than what was reported by the National Golf Foundation, which found that 6 million millennials play approximately 90 million rounds each year. But notably, there are some differences in playing style. The research shows that of the age group, half are frequent golfers like previous generations (about 18 rounds), a little less than a quarter use it as social events (eight rounds) and a little more than a quarter play infrequently. Together they spend $5 billion on golf a year, a fraction of the $76 billion industry, CNBC reported.
But, by embracing digital, Votaw believes the future can be brighter. The National Golf Foundation also found that 12 million non-millennial golfers are interested in learning to play the game, CNBC reported.
“We have found a way to create content where our fans have increasingly wanted to consume it. It serves as snacks to the full meal of our television audience. Every sponsor that we have, the conversation is about what we can do from them in the digital realm across our platforms and our social media,” Votaw said.
The PGA Tour itself has been focusing on making its content available online. It’s hosted Snapchat live stories at several PGA Tour events. It worked with digital media company Bedrocket Media Ventures to create SkratchTV, an Internet-only golf network. The organization also hosts streaming coverage of its tours on PGA Tour Live, CNBC reported.
“We have created content across our digital platforms that has delivered to our fans where they are increasingly wanting to consume that content,” said Votaw. “Digital content actually complements our television content, and helps drive ratings and further interest in the sport.”
In the past year or so, Fed Ex hosted “Night Golf,” played after sunset with glow-in-the-dark equipment. Farmers Insurance hosts University Day Challenge, which has included bringing athletes’ university mascots down to the course to cheer on their alumni and having players knock out college logos from a pane of glass in order to raise money for charity. The events were recorded and then clipped for sharing on social media, CNBC reported.
In addition, AT&T and Coca-Cola are sponsoring Spieth while Farmers Insurance put Fowler on its roster, and they’re using them in their social media marketing, CNBC reported.