Can the Airpark’s golf industry stay relevant?
“Golf? Nixon plays golf.”
The source of that jab was the movie “Caddyshack.” The year was 1980.
So 37 years ago – long before we had the internet, smart phones or attention spans shorter than a 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway – some were already bemoaning the impending death of golf. Many were saying the younger generations found the sport irrelevant.
Golf fared pretty well through those subsequent years.
But now, nearly four decades later, the industry is scrambling once again to attract a broader audience, lest it go the way of bowling and tennis.
This month, in our annual golf issue, we examine the business of golf, still an economic driver in the Airpark.
Of course, the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale draws hundreds of thousands of spectators with deep wallets to the Airpark annually. Wisely, the tournament has loosened its grip on tradition and recognizes that its future depends not only on the game, but also upon creating an event.
Golf is hardly a sideshow at the Open, but the party atmosphere in the gallery, especially on the infamous 16th hole, is now as important to younger spectators as the leader board. So is the after-hours Birds Nest, which expanded its musical lineup this year hoping to take on more of a festival feel.
In this issue, we take a look at what golf-course operators in general and especially near the Airpark are doing to insure a robust future. The industry is luring younger players with options that insure a faster pace, more technology and affordability.
You’ll also meet a former caddie-scholarship winner, now director of instruction at TPC. He, and others at high-end golf courses in the area, are attempting to bring back caddies.
Airpark icon Bob Parsons has roared onto the local golf scene. He recently bought Scottsdale National and created PXG, an elite golf-club manufacturer in the Airpark.
Parsons is betting that golf still is relevant. That’s a pretty strong vote for the future of the sport.
This we know: The skies are blue and the grass is green in the Airpark, and there’s no better place to find yourself in February. Enjoy every day of it!