Rumours of golf’s demise greatly exaggerated, says PGA
The PGA of Australia has hit back at suggestions the golf industry here is in disarray and says some unflattering comparisons with the Greg Norman era are misleading.
PGA of Australia chief executive Max Garske came out swinging today in response to media comment following the release of the 2008 Sweeney Sports Report last month.
He also disputed the report’s findings that golf “suffered most” over the last 12 months with reported “record lows” in relation to participation and television viewing.
“The Sweeney Report and the consequential media commentary have painted a flawed and potentially damaging picture of the Australian Golf Industry,” said Garske in a statement.
“And the PGA of Australia wishes to not only respond, but also refute these claims.
“Given the nature of the research, we feel it is irresponsible to draw such generalised conclusions and accordingly we feel the need to add context to the debate.”
The PGA of Australia’s statement came with its own report on the state of the game refuting some findings of the Sweeney Report.
Among the Sweeney Report findings were that the proportion of people who watch golf on TV had dropped to 19 per cent, down from a peak of 42 per cent in 1990-91 – when Norman was the No.1 player in the world.
It also said overall public interest in the game was at an all-time low of 23 per cent, down from last year’s 31 per cent, and the proportion of Australians who said they played golf was the survey’s lowest ever.
In response, the PGA of Australia drew together information from a range of market research.
One section of its response was devoted to frustration over media coverage and comparisons to the state of golf in Australia when Norman was the game’s biggest star.
“Australian golf is constantly compared to the time when Greg Norman was at the peak of his game,” Garske said.
“The sports and media landscape of the 1990s bears little resemblance today.
“Consider this. Of Greg Norman’s 20 international victories only two were shown live on Australian TV compared to all 87 of Tiger Woods’ victories being beamed into Australian homes.
“People consume their golf interest in different ways today and their ability to consume it when and how they like is virtually unlimited. In the early 90s they had no choice but to tune in to Australian telecasts and read tomorrow’s newspapers for the results.
It added: “It is misleading to compare a domestic free to air audience of 2008 to one in 1990.”
The PGA’s report also produced a number of statistics to show golf holding its own in a crowded sporting marketplace, including that 31,000,000 rounds of golf were played in Australia in 2006-07, a steady result over the past three years.
It said more than 1,535,000 dozen golf balls were sold in Australia last year, compared to 1,472,000 dozen in 2004.
Total wholesale sales of golf equipment in Australia also increased by nearly $20 million between 2001 and 2007 to $166.6 million.
And over 39 per cent of all golfers maintain club memberships.
Garske pointed to the amalgamation of golf governing bodies in this country in recent years to answer criticism that the game is too fragmented.
And he suggested some media reports read too much into problems finding financial backing for some major tournaments in Australia.
“By itself, a golf tournament in Australia without a naming rights sponsor is not the sole barometer of popularity, support or interest in golf here,” he said.
“It is evident from broader analysis that the state of the Australian golf industry is far from dire,” Garske added.
“Never in history has the industry worked so closely together in an effort to develop the game at every level and, contrary to recent speculation, we are extremely confident of a promising future.”© AAP 2013
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