How we almost pulled the pin on our “stupid idea”…
Part 1. GenYgolf
Four years ago we kicked-off GenYgolf with a Facebook post … no one joined up.
The goal was simple: Can we get more people playing golf?
The concept was scribbled on a post-it note. It read as follows:
- See if we can administer handicaps
- Organise a few events at courses we’d love to play
- Try and negotiate 4 course discounts
- Get 50 members in the first year
- Give golfers some flexibility and choice
- Create a lively and less ‘old school’ golf experience
Most of all, we wanted to create a golf community that was relaxed, where we didn’t feel out of place or embarrassed. A club that encouraged mateship linked by the game of golf.
So off we went, spritely and excited!
Our first event was solid, which was a pleasant surprise considering we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. Thirty players attended the Dunes, everyone got a free hat … no one joined up.
We were now “golf event specialists” and pumped for our second event. We went hard and even spent money on advertising. It took us 100 hours to organise the event. This was going to be HUGE … the official launch of GenYgolf … seven golfers rocked up, six of them were our mates.
Again no one joined up and we had just put on Australia’s (the world’s?!) smallest publicly advertised golf event. Shattered.
We brainstormed… “What if we got a partner course on board?” The first phone call was to an industry stalwart and his response was “in all my years in the game, this is by far the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”. He said he’d “eat his hat if we were still around in three months time, it was a resounding no and we should quit now!” Brutal!
It was probably time to pull the pin, but for some reason we couldn’t do it. We kept plugging away, hosting stupidly small events. We kept posting on social media, we kept calling clubs.
Slowly a few members started to join. Some members even offered to help us out. To this day they are still helping out, they are the lifeblood of the club.
Thousands of hours planning, performing admin tasks, discussing ideas, testing ideas, making phone calls, answering inquiries, organising events, responding to feedback, submitting rounds, setting up partnerships, calculating scores, creating a website, posting on social media… all while managing full-time jobs, relationships, families and everything else life threw our way.
It was tough. On many occasions it nearly broke us. At times we struggled to see the point of it all.
Someone asked us the other day: “Why’d you guys keep going? The answer was simple: “Passion.” This was our passion project, we were doing something we truly loved for members that we genuinely cared for.
When you love and believe in something, it stops feeling like work after a while.
Part 2. Future Golf
Recently, I was asked “why?” Why the change to Future Golf?
I did what every normal person does when asked a difficult question. I changed the subject and took weeks to think of an answer.
Then it came to me. The answer is that we had outgrown GenYgolf. The name GenY had gone from the thing that defined us to a barrier for new members.
When we launched in 2014, it felt right. But we realised that a) nobody really knows who GenY is and who GenY isn’t and b) a lot of the people we were targeting thought they were too old to get involved.
For a non-golfer, there are enough obstacles to participation. Equipment, time, money, mates, difficulty, location. We didn’t want to make a person’s age another one.
Right now, 92 per cent of our 2000-strong membership are aged between 25 and 39. So, GenY. But we expect that to change as our offering changes.
It’s why Future Golf is the right name to carry us through our new phase. And this phase has nothing to do with when you were born.
Our core mission has always been to “grow” the game of golf. And that means a few different things. We want to:
Grow our community.
Grow our partners and the industry we’re influencing.
Grow our game.
But more than that we want to watch our members grow. The thing that gets me most excited is watching a beginner go through that journey to becoming an addict.
I’ll never get tired of the look on a new golfer’s face when they strike the ball just right for the first time. It’s the look that says: “I want to do that again. I NEED to do that again.”
I’ll never get tired of hearing a member tell me they had no one to play with before and that we’ve changed the way they look at golf. Or that the person they played with offered them a job.
Growth for us means building long lasting relationships with our partner clubs, facilities and brands. By doing that, our members reap the benefits. The pie keeps getting bigger and everyone gets a slice.
We’re growing our team, too. We started with passionate people working 18-hour days, hand delivering membership packs and entering scorecards on a Sunday night. Those same people are with us today, but so are many more.
As we head into the future, we will continue our mission to change the game of golf and how it’s viewed.
We will continue to make the game accessible, friendly, relaxed and FUN.
We will keep helping those who feel intimidated or embarrassed.
We will continue to provide our members with the best benefits and value in golf.
We will continue to support the industry by promoting our partners.
We will keep innovating, trying and testing new ideas.
We will continue to challenge the way the game is perceived to get more people playing more often.
To us, golf is more than a game, it’s a way of life. We view our community as the custodians of golf. The future of golf.
CEO & Founder