The 2015 Masters Tournament By The Numbers

by John S Kiernan

The-2015-Masters-Tournament-By-The-Numbers-BadgeFour. It’s a number deeply representative of the Masters Tournament – one of golf’s quartet of “majors” – and the 2015 iteration in particular. Can Rory McIlroy – the No. 1 player in the world – take home the Green Jacket and in so doing win his third major in a row as well as complete the career Grand Slam? Or perhaps defending champion Bubba Watson will prevail instead, taking ownership of three out of the last four Masters titles. Who knows – maybe one of the four Koreans in the field (or the single player from Japan, Thailand or India) will even become the first Asian Masters champ.

There’s ultimately no shortage of intrigue or interesting statistics tied to the 79th Masters Tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA. And, from the $9 million purse and the $35 million in expected ticket sales to Georgia’s $5 billion golf economy and the Masters’ $115 million local impact, we’ll break it all down below. Make sure to also check out our Ask The Experts section for tournament predictions and economic insights from a panel of leading experts.


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Ask the Experts

  1. Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?
  2. Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?
  3. What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?
  4. Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?
  5. Will Tiger Woods win another major?
  6. Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?
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  • Beth A. Cianfrone Associate Professor & Director of Sport Administration at Georgia State University, College of Education
  • Nate Miklos Head Women's Golf Coach at Youngstown State University
  • Donald G. Farr Director of Professional Golf Management at Florida State University, Dedman School of Hospitality
  • Tim Rice Professor of Sport Management at Columbia Southern University, College of Business
  • Christopher J. Prosser Lecturer of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Internship Coordinator in the PGA Golf Management Program at University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Catherine Benson Director of Golf Management at Trine University
  • Cale A. Bigelow Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, College of Agriculture
  • Orin Starn Chair and Professor of Cultural Anthropology and History at Duke University
  • Windy Dees Assistant Professor of Sport Administration at University of Miami, School of Education and Human Development
  • Scott J. Callan Professor of Economics at Bentley University
  • John Orr Associate Professor of Management at Webster University
  • John E. Kaminski Associate Professor of Turfgrass Management, and Director of the Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program at Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences
  • Sean Daly Associate Professor of Sports, Entertainment, and Event Management at Johnson & Wales University, College of Management

Beth A. Cianfrone

Associate Professor & Director of Sport Administration at Georgia State University, College of Education
Beth A. Cianfrone
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

I’ve used the golf discount websites like golfnow.com or played in the afternoons to keep costs down. I don’t play often, but I’m a big fan of cheap, public, par 3 courses, where I can reach the green in a shot!

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

I think the biggest challenge the PGA Tour is facing right now is the decline in television ratings for the Tour events over the last two years. They stream a lot of events online, so that might influence the television ratings, but it may also be a reflection of a drop in fans’ interest in the game. Fortunately, the PGA has sponsors for all the Tour events, which is key for their television advertising. To combat the dip, the PGA seems focused on the next wave of stars. With Woods and Mickelson aging, the PGA is promoting Rory and the younger players, and their winning is helping.

A side note, a great challenge with golf for the recreational player will always be the barrier of point of entry costs for playing—equipment, greens fees, etc. are pricey compared to other sports.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

I’m a big proponent of fantasy sports as a marketing tool and what it can do for enhancing the sport experience for fans. Fantasy sports is about a $5 billion industry, so the PGA has a lot to gain. Fantasy sports can be tied to a fan’s attitude toward a player—if a fan feels positively about a player that can influence how frequently he/she watches the sport on television. Fantasy sports makes you more invested in a handful of players, rather than just one player. Research has shown that fantasy football complements the NFL fan experience with increased viewing experience and online consumption. I would anticipate golf would see similar effects- you would pick four PGA players and compete against other fans, in turn, you’d become invested and feel strongly about those players. Even if your favorite player is not performing well on Saturday, you’d still tune in and watch on Sunday because some of your fantasy players may be at the top of the leaderboard and you’d want to watch your “team” win.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

I’m a Univ. of Florida graduate, so I’m going with my fellow Gator Billy Horschel.

Nate Miklos

Head Women's Golf Coach at Youngstown State University
Nate Miklos
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

Keep an eye out for specials/twilight rates at courses. If your schedule is flexible you can often save a lot by waiting a couple more hours for the twilight rates.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

I would lean more towards rehabbing courses depending on the area. A lot of courses quit investing though in their product which leads to poor course conditions, poor service and ultimately dissatisfied customers. Communities would be better served to rehab their courses to make them a better option for a variety of golfers (things like shorter tees for juniors, 3-4 hole loop for people who just want to play a few holes, and so on).

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

I think there are a few big issues involved with the game but to me the biggest right now is the time it takes to play a round of golf. People are busier than ever and want more family-oriented activities and a lot of people don't want to spend 5 or so hours playing a round of golf. The difficulty of the game, participation and cost have always been challenges but we've gotten busier as a society and it's changed the way people view spending part of the day on the golf course. A lot of people are willing to spend 4 hours playing a round but when play is slow and it ends up taking 5 hours or more, it becomes a big problem and people choose to spend their time on other activities.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

Fantasy golf is great for the sport. We've seen interest grow in other sports because of fantasy sports and it can have a positive impact on golf. Those playing fantasy golf have a more vested interest in it and end up watching and following more events that they wouldn't otherwise.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

That's a great question- on the one hand, I find it very difficult to ever count Tiger out but with everything we've seen in the last few years it's becoming harder and harder to think that he'll get back on top. I would still bet on him to find a way to win another major.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

I think the Masters is wide open this year. I think there are a lot of young guns that are waiting to break through- Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and many others. Then there's Rory McIllroy who has won the last two majors and it's almost unbeatable when he's on his game. With the way McIllroy has played in recent majors, he would be my pick to get his first green jacket.

Donald G. Farr

Director of Professional Golf Management at Florida State University, Dedman School of Hospitality
Donald G. Farr
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

We have some terrific municipal and university golf courses in this country that offer golf at reasonable rates. Additionally, many courses have afternoon leagues and off-peak memberships.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

I believe that communities should invest in rehabbing golf courses and provide inexpensive access to all residents. I also believe that these facilities should be multi-use facilities that could host Foot golf, Frisbee golf, junior leagues and other community events. Golf can be inexpensive enough if the goal is providing an arena for residents to play the world’s greatest game and not to sell real estate.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

The biggest issue facing golf from a developer’s viewpoint is the oversupply of golf courses and the diminishing demand of golfers.

I believe the disconnect between current golfers and potential golfers is that the established traditionalists still believe the game itself will rebound without significant changes. The game is not fun for young people. We cannot enforce dress codes, eliminate cell phone and other technology use, and rush people around the course in 4 hours. Golf needs to be made less formal in order to encourage young people to play.

Other issues in golf include access for the middleclass, equipment costs, environmental concerns, and social issues such as exclusion and discrimination protected by the 1964 civil rights act at private clubs. I also think our leading professional and amateur golf associations could have a greater impact in growing the game for the middle class, women, and minorities.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

I don’t believe fantasy golf will make a significant impact on the game but games that make golf fun such as TopGolf could help grow the game.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

I hope Tiger becomes competitive again; the majors are much more enjoyable to watch with him in the mix. Unfortunately he has had a violent swing for years and I believe it has caught up with him physically. As great as Tiger is, the competition today is so strong I believe it is unlikely an ageing, hurting Tiger will have difficulty winning another major.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

I have Jonas Blixt winning the Masters this year.

Tim Rice

Professor of Sport Management at Columbia Southern University, College of Business
Tim Rice
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

I think taking a look at the Internet to see what the best public courses are is a great way to find some courses. I am not an avid golfer these days, but really enjoyed playing public courses in the Pittsburgh area when I lived there.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

I think it all depends on the community. There is no doubt that golf is a great game that is good for any community, but most communities are not very open to raising taxes to refurbish or build golf courses. The game needs to continue to become more mainstream to see communities invest. We see skateboard parks going up all over the country...I do not see why golf course construction cannot grow in the same way.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

I think the biggest issues are with the costs to play, as well as equipment costs. Folks want to get the most out of their dollar these days, especially when it comes to activities for the family. The game is cost prohibitive in many ways. I think finding a way to offer low cost or no cost golf could not only help more people want to play, but also lead youngsters to want to play at an earlier age. PGA REACH programming is a great initiative to offer kids with more opportunity to learn the game. We need to see more initiatives like this for older golfers, as well. It is a great lifetime sport.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

I think that anything that can hold the interest of consumers is a good thing for any sport. I know that I was a big GoLo player when it first came out. It is a dice game that is based on golf scoring. I have played Fantasy Golf for the Master’s before, but it has been a long time. The fact that over 33 million people above the age of 12 play fantasy games with a $3-$4 billion economic impact shows the power of fantasy sports.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

He can, but it will take him getting out of his own way. I think his issue deals with his mindset. He needs a good sport psychology professional to help him find his way. I know he has some issues with his swing, but I think his major issues are psychological. There is no doubt of his ability.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

I have not been keeping track lately, but I am a big Bubba Watson fan. He is from my area of the country (Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast) and went to junior college near my hometown in Alabama (Faulkner State JC).

Christopher J. Prosser

Lecturer of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Internship Coordinator in the PGA Golf Management Program at University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Christopher J. Prosser
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

If you are trying to hit the links without breaking your bank I recommend the following:
  1. Call the golf course and ask for Twilight Rates (Most golf courses in Maryland and Delaware start twilight rates at 2:00pm so there is plenty of time to finish 18 holes.
  2. Use the GolfNow app on your Apple Phone or Android to find discounted green fees.
  3. If you can play during the week you will save a few dollars over the weekend green fee.
What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

Time. Golf takes on average 4.5 hours to play not including warm-up and travel time to and from the course. This is sometimes a difficult to make it to the course if your kids are involve in sports or other activities.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

Tiger is one of the greatest golfers of all time. I think it’s only a matter of months before we see him rise back to the top of the tour rankings. Once he gets back to playing in more events he will win another major. However, I am not sure he will beat Jack Nicklaus’s record.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

Rory McIlroy

Catherine Benson

Director of Golf Management at Trine University
Catherine Benson
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

Always call ahead to find out when prime times and rates are. Most courses run specials at least one day a week.

Ask if there is any kind of a deal for foursomes. Many courses are now offering specials for groups of 4 or more. This is a great way to save money and spend time with friends!

If you play a lot of golf (usually 40 or more rounds), consider a membership or season pass at your local golf course. Membership rates are becoming very competitive and you can find great deals that will allow you to play all year long for a fraction of the price you will pay for daily rates. Always ask if there are group discounts, corporate deals, or family specials.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

I am not sure that building a golf course in our current economy is the most prudent decision, but communities should continue to invest in maintaining existing golf courses. With some of the national initiatives such as The First Tee and PGA Junior Golf League, we are seeing a rejuvenation in the golf industry. Golf courses are providing tremendous learning opportunities for juniors, socialization and competitive opportunities for adults, and healthy family activities for people of all ages. Communities support so many other forms of recreation…why should golf be any different?

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

One of the biggest issues facing the game of golf is the perception that it is a rich man’s sport and that it takes too long to play. The PGA and other golf organizations are finding ways to combat this stigma by providing low-cost learning opportunities, non-traditional formats that enhance enjoyment, and modes of play that are faster for those pressed for time.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

With the way he has been playing, I would not be surprised to see Jimmy Walker atop the leaderboard at the Masters.

Cale A. Bigelow

Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, College of Agriculture
Cale A. Bigelow
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

Lots of ways to cut costs… There is nothing wrong with honing your game on the local municipal courses… (Unless they are notorious for SLOW PLAY!!!). Those are reasonable and if you want to play somewhere really well manicured once in awhile, perhaps bidding for a round on some of the “elite facilities” across the nation at The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America “Rounds for Research” program is a way to gain access without breaking the bank. All monies benefit the Environmental Institute for Golf and Turf Research “For the Good of the Game”.

At the moment, our Green industry is in need of that “next generation” of people to care for courses, manage the playing surfaces and be environmental stewards. Turf Science programs like ours at Purdue would very much to see people become more interested in the Plant Sciences instead of the typical desk-jockey/“work-cubicle sciences”.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

It depends. In many situation, Golf courses provide numerous benefits in urban environments, everything from acting as a wild-life habitat in densely populated areas to serving as “green-spaces” that filter water and provide a pervious surface that actually absorbs rainfall as well as a place to participate in recreation. But in some places golf was simply “over-built”.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

Slow play, both in terms of slow players but also the time it takes to play some of the golf courses constructed in the past 20 years during the “golf boom”. Golf courses got longer, and more difficult as well as constructed in such a way that many of them cannot be played without a golf cart (long distances between greens and the next tee-sometimes across roads, etc. in residential developments) which may take longer to play.

I think we need to rethink “Why 18-holes”. What’s wrong with 6, 9 or 12 or 14, whatever it takes to make golf fit people’s busy schedules? People want to get out have fun with their friends/family out in nature… but most of us don’t have 4-6 hours.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

It will generate interest but I think it will not increase participation by much. Concepts like “Top-Golf” will have a bigger impact attracting people either to the game (actually picking up a golf club) and maybe increasing participation. If you have not tried it you should. My family and another spent 2 hours over Spring Break and it was really fun for all involved. But still a bit pricey.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

Yes.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

There are so many great players. You cannot discount “Lefty”, Rory or Bubba Watson but I think some of our younger generation like Rickie Fowler or Jordan Speith will be right in the hunt.

Orin Starn

Chair and Professor of Cultural Anthropology and History at Duke University
Orin Starn
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

It’s a myth that golf’s an expensive sport. It costs a lot less than an X-Box habit. You can get a good set of clubs on Craig’s List for not much money, and there have never been more good, reasonably priced courses than in America now.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

These are tough times for the golf business. There’s been a lot of overbuilding of courses, and it’s risky for a community to spend much money on a course. But they’re a wonderful community resource – a place for kids to get outside; a quiet green zone; and a draw to outsiders. The city of Durham, NC, where I live, recently helped to save an old municipal course, Hillandale, and it’s been a winning proposition all around.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

Getting young people interested in the game. It’s a tough sell between sports video games and the lure of more glamorous action sport.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

Fantasy sports have become a giant phenomenon. Frankly, I don’t get it. I’d rather play sports myself, or just watch the game. But to each…

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

Yes. People forget that he was still number one in the world a little more than a year ago. And that he’s Tiger Woods. But he’s lucky he’s not a basketball or football player. It’s only in golf that athletes in their forties can still compete at the highest level.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

Tiger Woods. It’d be a miracle if he won after his long lay-off and chipping yips, but it’d be the sports story of the century so far.

Windy Dees

Assistant Professor of Sport Administration at University of Miami, School of Education and Human Development
Windy Dees
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

Learning, playing, and enjoying the game of golf does not always have to be expensive. Public driving ranges and public golf courses often have more reasonable rates than country clubs and don’t require initiation fees and monthly memberships. These are great places to take lessons from golf professionals, practice your skills, and play rounds of golf. Many public courses will also allow golfers to walk, which is great exercise, and it costs less than renting a golf cart.

Golf equipment can also be expensive unless you know where to go. Lightly used and sometimes even new equipment is on eBay and being sold for a fraction of the cost of retail. This is because many people buy brand new golf clubs and accessories, realize they are not playing as often as they thought (or the equipment didn’t make them Tiger Woods overnight!), and they sell the items for much less than they paid. There are also large discount golf retailers on the web that carry everything you might need to hit the links at better prices than golf pro shops. For even better deals on equipment, clothing, and rounds of golf at your local club, try downloading a free golf app, like Golf Logix, or using the website, Golf Now, to find the cheapest available tee times in your area.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

Golf courses serve more than just the purpose of providing sport entertainment to neighborhoods. Golf courses that are well-maintained can raise property values versus ones that are neglected and become unsightly. Golf courses are also social places where people can meet, interact, and engage with others in their community. They provide a means for healthy sporting activity, relaxation and entertainment, as well as interaction with nature.

Many communities in golf-friendly states, like Florida, California, Arizona, North and South Carolina, already revolve around golf courses and/or country clubs. These communities are often marketed to seniors and retirees, but there is a high quality of life to be had for anyone living in these residential areas.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

The biggest issues facing the sport of golf presently are high cost of play, amount of time it takes to play, and the complexity of the game and its rules. These challenges make it difficult for certain groups of people to take up the game of golf and develop a passion for it.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

Fantasy sports are great for most any game and its industry – golf is no different. Fantasy sports expose fans to more than just one team or one player. Fans can learn the game and its rules through managing a team, or roster of players, and consuming the sport at a much higher level through various forms of media. Fantasy players tend to develop greater sport knowledge, interest, and engagement. These are certainly things that could help the game of golf in the near future. The sport needs more fans – young fans – and people who may translate their interest in watching golf to actually playing the sport. With so many professional players, male and female, from all over the world, fantasy golf would help fans learn more about the game and all of those players competing at the highest level.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

I don’t see it happening. Two reasons: 1) Too many serious injuries that have negatively impacted his swing, and 2) a continued decline in his confidence that has affected his performance, particularly in the most challenging events, the majors.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

My picks in this order would be Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson, or Sergio Garcia. Jimmy Walker has been playing tremendously for the last couple seasons and I think he is due for a major soon. Bubba is playing fantastic and loves Augusta and plays with great confidence and has the home crowd, which he admits, highly motivates him. Lastly, I think this might be the year Sergio finally gets the monkey off his back and wins a big one. He has contended at The Masters before and come up just short, but he is playing extremely well right now.

Scott J. Callan

Professor of Economics at Bentley University
Scott J. Callan
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

Play public courses during the week, join a league, and purchase used golf clubs. Obviously, the cost for a round of golf is considerably cheaper at a public course when compared to either semi-private or private courses. Weekday golf is generally less expensive than weekend play. Joining a league helps guarantee a set tee-time (usually weekly).

As far as equipment goes, there are plenty of online retailers offering used clubs. A used driver can be purchased for a fraction of the cost when it was new. The drawback with used clubs is that you will lag the new technology by at most one year. For most of us, this is not a critical factor and the savings can be substantial.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

The decline in younger people playing the game. Part of the reason for this decline is the expense and the other part is the lack of interest in picking up a game that can be very difficult to learn.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

In general, fantasy sports has grown in popularity. Golf is no exception. Rather than play the sport, younger people are more comfortable “playing” it through technology. As the technology continues to evolve, more people will be exposed to the fantasy of playing the sport. The availability of fantasy golf may not grow the actual number of golf participants, but it should grow the popularity at the professional golf level (in the US and international) as more people become interested in how their fantasy picks are doing from week to week.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

When it comes to a major tournament, I don’t think it’s a wise decision to bet against Tiger Woods. Despite his recent setbacks (injuries, swing changes and bruised confidence), he should still be among the favorites to win any tournament he enters. While he is getting older, if he regains his health and confidence, he will be a strong candidate to win at least one more major. Given that he is almost forty, he should have many more years to compete at the highest level. Lastly, he has essentially only one record left to achieve and that is the most majors won. Given his drive and determination, I’m convinced he will do everything that is humanely possible to reach that goal.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

I like Dustin Johnson. Since coming off his “suspension” he has performed very well.

John Orr

Associate Professor of Management at Webster University
John Orr
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

For spot green fees: Look for “dynamic pricing” patterns. You’ll pay full price for Friday mornings in nice weather, but other times – such as Tuesday and Thursday PM – may have hefty discounts.

For golf equipment: Get fitted for clubs, and then PRACTICE to learn to use them. The wrong clubs can hurt your game, but you can’t BUY A GAME by purchasing each year’s hot driver.

Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

If salvaging a golf course prevents a golf facility shortage in the area, I say yes. But, community (and government?) ventures must be run in a businesslike manner. You can’t hire the mayor’s drifty brother-in-law to run the course; you need to hire professionals who know the trade.

Also, there’s the “quality of life” issue. If we don’t have a community golf course, are we a dump place to live? You need to get realistic projections on costs to build and potential revenue, or you have a nightmare. Here’s (to my way of thinking) a rather expensive public course going up in New Jersey.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

The X-Factor golf swing, in which players try to restrict lower body motion on backswing to build more torque on downswing. This puts major strain on back muscles, and appears to be a factor in the rising number of injuries in the 30-something tour pros

Disappearance of “Adult Time.” The Generation X parents want to ensure their designer children are “perfect,” so adult time has largely disappeared from Kindergarten until graduation from college. You can’t cheer at youth soccer games and play golf at the same time.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

I’m ignoring it. I want to be out on the real golf course.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

Due to advances in sports medicine, I think Tiger will win another major or two. He just needs to take some time off and “get well” first. Also, due to sports medicine, I suspect we’ll see golfers over age 50 win an occasional major.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

Patrick Reed.

John E. Kaminski

Associate Professor of Turfgrass Management, and Director of the Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program at Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences
John E. Kaminski
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

There are a lot of ways to get involved in golf without breaking the bank. Hitting the driving range would be a good start. It’s pretty affordable and can be a lot of fun for all ages.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

The biggest issues facing the game of golf today is probably the lack of young players interested in the game and the time commitment needed to play a typical round. I think that the USGA has done a good job with their “While we’re young” campaign, but until you can get a golf round under 4 hours then it will be tough. That and when the next “Tiger Woods” hits the scenes and inspires young people to take up the game.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

Nothing. It’s another worthless fantasy game…and yes, I participate in it.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

Yes, Tiger will win another major and I can’t wait for that to happen. I think that he will be hard-pressed to take the overall title from Jack Nicklaus, but I do believe he will win another major or two before it’s all said and done.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

Jordan Spieth will beat Rickie Fowler in a playoff and Fowler will retire from the game.

Sean Daly

Associate Professor of Sports, Entertainment, and Event Management at Johnson & Wales University, College of Management
Sean Daly
Do you have any tips for hitting the links without breaking the bank?

Golf can be a very expensive game. In fact, here in the Denver Metro area, we are hard pressed to find a round of 18 holes with a cart for less than $60. It seems as though our price sensitivity to golf has gone down and we are more willing to pay higher rates for the same course we played years ago for 20% less. In order to maximize your golf experience without breaking the bank I think the consumer has to consider the following:
  1. What are my goals? Do I want to play at a prestigious club or enjoy a round with my friends at the local municipal course? The difference between each can be $100 at times.
  2. How much do I plan on spending? Like many sports events it’s the ancillary costs that make it seem expensive. The Fan Cost Index for many sports shows that the cost of attending a MLB game is hundreds of dollars for a family of four. The same principle can be said for golf. We pay greens fees and don’t factor in the beer/soda/water, food, and merchandise that we buy, which can easily double the cost of our round.
  3. Walk or ride? The cost of renting a golf cart can add $20+ to a round. If a golfer would walk the course or rent a pull cart ($5 or less) they can save a great deal of money and get the added benefits of walking at the same time.
Overall, if a golfer wants to enjoy the experience of golfing and not break the bank they need to consider:
  • Play at a local municipal course
  • Walking with a pull cart
  • Don’t drink beer and eat food – drinking alcohol doesn’t actually help you play better so for the casual golfer it’s best to avoid it.
Should communities invest in building or rehabbing golf courses? Why or why not?

The trend that I see occurring in golf course management is troubling. The courses spent a great deal of time and money designing and renovating courses to be more challenging so the golfers felt they were getting the most out of their experiences. Unfortunately, today’s consumer is the opposite. With less discretionary time and money, golfers are looking for a round that plays in less than 4 hours and affords them an acceptable amount of success. This means that all those courses that have high slope ratings and are known for being tough will have a harder time competing for the casual golfers dollars.

That being said, it is my opinion that rehabbing courses is always a good investment. Can you imagine going to a stadium or arena that has never been renovated. The seats, bathrooms, and even concession areas would not meet our expectations for the dollars we spend to be there. Those individuals in charge of course management must consider what the expectations of their consumers are. They need to do good research to gain a better understanding of what their consumer wants and then plan renovations accordingly. Anecdotally, I hear that some resorts have made the golf hole slightly larger so that puts will fall in easier. This translates to increased success and consumer happiness, which then converts the consumer to a repeat customer. Sure, this disqualifies the course from hosting PGA or USGA events, but at the end of the day if their customer is someone who is traveling than the goal of them golfing isn’t competitive, it’s social and recreational. And that is the marriage between consumer knowledge and investment.

What are the biggest issues facing the game of golf these days?

In my opinion, the biggest issue facing most high end sports is access for young people. Young people, 18 and under, have very little discretionary money to spend and when they do have an extra $100 they probably aren’t considering a round of golf. Furthermore, young professionals with families have tight budgets and often can’t golf as much as they want because of family and work commitments.

So, simply put, the golf industry’s biggest issue is how do they structure themselves to be more accessible to the future of their game? How can they reduce the financial and time barriers that prevent young, urban, and family-focused people from being able to participate? Remember, young people eventually turn to older people with higher wages and more free time. Don’t forget your consumer.

Fantasy golf seems to be gaining traction – what impact do you think it will have on the sport?

An industry friend recently told me that the Fantasy Football market is valued at $70 billion. The amount of time and money spent on gaming and fantasy sports is staggering and shouldn’t be left alone. The concept of gaming and how gaming increases engagement and loyalty over time is a young academic area, but there are many people out there who see this area as one that is vital to the success of any sport industry.

In my opinion, fantasy golf, if it takes off, will have a large impact on how much the mediated consumer invests in watching the sport. When a fan participates in fantasy sports their investment in watching the event increases. This will be great for organizations like the PGA who can capitalize on this with increased advertising, broadcasting, and sponsorship revenue. Furthermore, as with the last three questions, fantasy sports may help connect the sport with young people who may otherwise not play. Maybe this is a way that we introduce the game to young people so that they are less sensitive to the large overhead (gear, greens fees, etc.) of playing the game. If I were part of the golf industry I would be excited about what this can bring to our sport.

Will Tiger Woods win another major?

Tiger seems to bring a great vibe to the fan experience and increased ratings to accompany his appearance at a tournament are undeniable. However, whether or not he can win is for the golf experts to weigh in on.

Which is your pick for 2015 Masters?

I love all watching and experiencing the Masters. It’s part of the spring American experience. I can’t wait to see who comes out on top and won’t dirty the waters with my amateur assumptions of who is the best player.

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John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
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