Destination Golf - September 2016 * - Page 28

Peter Walton at the Star Trophy with Colin Montgomerie © IAGTO DG: Does golf need to change to address people’s changing habits and available leisure time? PW: This is a question that the leaders of the golf industry tackle every day. From a golf tourism perspective, there is an indelible link between golf participation on a regular basis and the number of golf vacations taken each year. So we all want to see a continued growth in avid golfers in all markets. DG: Do footgolf, speedgolf and shorter courses threaten the traditional 18-hole game? PW: All versions of the game are beneficial in that they get people engaged with golf, which leads to more people choosing to go on holidays with their friends or family where golf is the focus. On vacations where golf is more than just a one-time amenity, golf will remain an 18-hole activity. Many golf travellers even try to squeeze in an extra nine holes or even a second round on the same day, light permitting! where swinging a golf club at a young age becomes as normal as kicking a football. In the US it will be interesting to see the success of Top Golf’s new facility in Las Vegas, where golf is at the heart of, but only one component of, an entertainment complex. Maybe this is one way to draw Millennials into the game in their twenties and thirties. DG: Will there be a positive Olympic effect for golf, do you think? The return of golf at the Rio Olympics resulted in the biggest-ever global TV audience for both the men’s and women’s competitions. Can it help boost the game’s popularity going forward? DG: Are enough young people taking up the game? And are enough efforts are being made to woo them to the sport? PW: I watched both tournaments from my sofa in London, but was constantly receiving messages from colleagues either spectating or working as volunteers in Rio. There is no doubt that the return of golf to the Olympics was a great success with an electric atmosphere that was palpable to the millions of viewers, so that of course can only be positive. Personally, I am keen to see the impact on accessibility to golf in Brazil; the growth of the game among both girls and boys throughout Latin America; and, PW: While in the United States, Canada and Europe golf has become openly accessible over the past two decades, this is not necessarily the case in Asia and Latin America. From a global perspective we are still keen to see advancements in accessibility to golf tuition and to golf courses for kids of all backgrounds, DG: The annual IAGTO Awards are the highlight of the International Golf Travel Market, the golf travel industry’s largest marketplace event which you established and which 28 Destination Golf .TRAVEL looking ahead, the gradual positioning of Japan as a unique and accessible golf destination ahead of the 2020 Olympics.