July 24, 2012

Being too good just isn’t sporting

Filed under: Marketing,Technology — by xrematon @ 7:34 pm
Tags: , ,

I have recently been involved in a report looking at the future of golf – and must confess to having found it all far more engrossing than I expected. That having been said, let me take the opportunity to plug the report written by The Futures Company for HSBC.

One theme that intrigued me was the impact of technological advances in improving player performances. There are a variety of different ways in which technology is used.

Some players are using their own IT to improve their game – players take their iPads out on the course to film themselves taking their shots, and then carefully analyse their strokes using video analysis software.

Then there are changes in the equipment directly used to play the game. In writing the report, we deliberately didn’t go into this area, but there was one development which cropped up.  A number of people we spoke to brought up the fact that changes modern balls can travel increasing distances. This is a source of concern to those in the industry as the below quote from Gary Player (interviewed for the report) illustrates.

“The golf equipment and ball have completely changed. One of my main concerns at the moment is how far the ball travels.  With the advances in golf ball technology, courses now have to be needlessly lengthened.  These costs are hurting the game because courses will have to recoup the costs somewhere.  The expense to scale back the ball would be miniscule compared to the money being spent around the world modifying golf courses.”

The third area I would like to bring up is technology being used to replicate the whole game experience, whether this is through video games, or golf simulation. One of the hypotheses posited in the report is the idea that virtual golfers become real world golfers. Indeed, comments from Urban Golf founder, James Day, who has set up three golf simulation experiences, suggest that virtual is very much about encouraging interest in the ‘real thing’, not a replacement.

‘I think the simulator model is going to be the best way to keep players hungry to play outdoors.’

Obviously, golf is not alone amongst sports in being impacted, in both desirable and undesirable ways, by developments in technology. Similar to the issue presented by golf balls which travel too far, so too the distance reached by javelin throwers became a source of concern.

It was whilst mulling over these issues that an article in The Economist caught my eye – it’s about how high tech is causing ripples in the angling world too.

“It is really getting kind of unfair,” says Macquarie’s Dr Brown. “If you are going to use GPS to take you to a location, sonar to identify the fish and a lure which reflects light that humans can’t even see, you may as well just go to McDonald’s and order a fish sandwich.’



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