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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

Golf’s Sweet Spot: Gen G
This 'Golf Generation' is the most vital age group for the golf business

by National Golf Foundation

September 2019

Are you familiar with Generation G? If you work in the golf business, you should be.

Some in the golf industry look at the wave of retiring Baby Boomers as an economic windfall, while others expect a sharp falloff in business after they’re gone. Millennials have garnered plenty of attention too, and many of the industry’s development programs are focused on juniors. But the real sweet spot for golf businesses? That’s the Golf Generation, or Gen G.

While not technically a generation, the age cohort from 46 to 65 is the most vital group for the golf industry, accounting for the most golfers, rounds and spend in the industry – more than $9 billion in total annually. Gen G includes younger Baby Boomers (55 to 72 age range) and the older members of Generation X.

 

Gen G comprises more than eight million golfers, 34 percent of the game’s overall on-course participation base of 24.2 million. They also play more than one-third of rounds, approximately 156 million in total. The traits and behaviors of this important group were highlighted at this year’s NGF Golf Business Symposium during a presentation by Dr. Alexis Abramson, a generational expert and award-winning journalist who is recognized as a global authority on the Millennial, GenX and Baby Boomer consumer. Abramson shared what golf can learn from other industries who are innovating to address generational impacts on their businesses.

“What’s nice about them is their disposable income goes up about $5,000 a year,” said Abramson, who is frequently retained to help organizations make products and services accessible and user-friendly across generations. “Their disposable income is about $1,300 a month. Their discretionary spending is about two times more than the average household.”

The average age for on-course golfers is almost 45. But it’s the golfers on the high end of that average who have the most significant impact on the industry. Abramson noted that 61 percent of those in Gen G said they have more free time than their younger counterparts, and that 53 percent of them are employed full-time compared to 75 percent of those in the 25-to-45 age group.

So how to connect with golfers in Gen G?

Abramson says the idea that “mid-lifers” don’t spend a significant time online is myth.

Dr. Alexis Abramson speaks during a presentation on Gen G at the 2019 NGF Golf Business Symposium.

“They spend more time across all devices than Millennials,” she noted, adding that 70 percent in Gen G report being social media users. Among that group, 70 percent say they’re not only likely to follow particular brands and businesses, but to patronize or buy from those that they follow. And Gen G spends about $7 billion annually online, Abramson told Symposium attendees.

Those in Gen G, golfers included, are high on customer service. Loyalty offerings and discounts are important to them, according to Abramson. “They want to feel like you care,” she said, noting that it’s crucial to consider the Gen G circle of influence, particularly word of mouth. More than 60 percent are asked for a recommendation from a friend or family member at least twice a week. Even more notably, 89 percent of them are quick to offer that suggestion.

Facebook is the social media platform on which those in Gen G get most of their targeted ads, yet 86 percent of them still check their mail every day, so they’re extremely receptive to direct mail. Online reviews and testimonies are also important to Gen G members.

“To transform and thrive, you have to be the brand that Gen G needs,” said Abramson. “You have to begin to pivot and figure out different ways to position your products or services.”

For more information about the NGF’s annual Golf Business Symposium, click here.

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National Golf Foundation

The NGF is widely regarded as the foremost authority in the golf business for data, research and consulting. The foundation serves members across every sector in the golf industry, with an expertise that includes market intelligence in golf participation, consumer behavior, course operations, facility development, travel, retail, consumer confidence and more.