Speaking to CNBC at the Carnoustie course, Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A said “We have a goal to have 25 percent of the attendees under 25. We want to increase the level of diversity. We don’t just want to have middle-aged men watching, we want women and young families as well.”
The R&A recognizes the importance of the older demographic as the ones who spend most on golf and golf accessories, but it’s also targeting engagement of a new generation. However, getting the right balance is still importance.
“Professional golf is a business and the business of professional golf depends on sponsors and TV companies being able to sell to people and therefore the more people that play the game, the more commercially attractive the whole sport is at the professional end.” Slumbers added.
This idea of inclusiveness may not appeal to everyone. Notably, President Donald Trump called for golf to remain at a premium price in an interview a few years ago.
“I feel golf should be an aspirational game, something people aspire to,” Trump said during an interview with Fortune in 2015 before becoming president. “People should come to golf, golf shouldn’t come to them. It may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs. Let golf be elitist.”
That view of Trump’s is further underlined with reports that his Mar-a-Largo resort doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 following his election to the White House.
That figure isn’t close to the world’s most expensive golf club membership, reportedly available at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. A Chartered Diamond membership can cost $382,000 and a further $14,400 a year in rent.
Equipment costs have also made some feel as though the sport is prohibiting them to play it seriously. If you wanted to have the exclusive Majesty Prestigio Super 7 driver by Japanese manufacturer Maruman in your bag, it will set a golfer back around $2,500 and a full five star set of irons, bag and accessories from Honma Golf could cost up to $76,000.
Introductory sets are available for less than 1 percent of that price and the R&A, in conjunction with the USGA (United States Golf Association), will be introducing a rewritten rulebook for the game to be enforced from January 2019, simplifying rules to make the game more accessible.
New rules include; no more penalties for accidentally moving a ball on the green, option to putt with the flagstick in and a player can take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke. The Women in Golf charter was also announced in May 2018 by the R&A.
The spectrum of golf interest and the opportunities to become involved seem to be evolving, whether that be through traditional forms or modern adaptations of the game.