Instagram – The Future of Golf Consumption?

When it comes to the GOAT doing GOATY things, like hitting 120 yard bananas out of bunkers in Mexico, Instagram is the place where most people now see it.

Say what you like about Instagram, but it’s difficult to deny that it’s THE social platform going into 2019 and is showing no signs of going away. With engagement rates going through the roof, and 2 hours plus of screen time on the app alone a common theme amongst “millennials”, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if you want to engage an under 30 audience then you need to be “winning on Insta”.

You’ll probably know that Tiger struck one of the shots of the century last week at the WGC in Mexico – that bunker shot – and shortly after it began reverberating around Instagram through stories, posts, DMs. (In the very small chance you’ve not yet seen it, shame on you and watch it here). Granted, the man is one of the most instagrammable (yes, that’s a word now) human beings ever, and him simply emerging from his vehicle with sunglasses on makes for a cracking 10 second clip, but the sheer reach that the video got was staggering. By 24 hours after the shot had been struck, anyone who was anyone who had any interest in golf had seen the shot and was talking about it. This is a great example of how the golfing world is leveraging the power of Instagram to increase engagement.

The problem usually with watching golf in the regular format on TV is that it lasts for 5 hours, 4 days in a row.

Who really wants to sit through all of that?

What’s more, that’s a hell of a lot of cameramen, cameras, editing, commentating and presenting to pay for.

Sure, that final 2 hours on Sunday might be exciting but, really, for most of the PGA tour events to most of the average viewers, the rest is just a load of guys in chinos knocking in 3 footers and tipping their caps.

Instagram viewing, however, is completely different and to be fair to them, the two main tours (European & PGA) are doing a pretty good job of taking advantage of it. After a few 20 second clips, a reply to your mate who sent you Dustin Johnson’s 543 yard drive on the par 5 10th and a quick look at the leaderboard, you can feel like you are fully up to date with the most important happening’s of the day’s play and in a great position to sit down and watch the crescendo of the action.

Golf, in its favour, has extremely watchable and engaging highlights, over and above what other sports can offer. There is something unique about a driver smashed with a pro tracer curving around a forest landing a few feet from the pin – it’s worth 10 seconds of most people’s time.

Hundreds of channels are popping up and capitalising on this fact. To name a few, ZireGolf, Golf Views and Robin Matthew Williams are three golf-related accounts who are creating and curating laugh-a-minute golf content.

One group of stakeholders who are falling down in the game of golf is Golf Clubs, who are missing out on a plethora of opportunities to engage a modern audience through the platform. Whilst their own accounts tend to be dull and boring (with a few exceptions), more importantly, it’s very rare to see a Golf Club offering content creation opportunities for their customers to take part in creating and share on Instagram, where the real value lies.

What’s for sure is that there’s a real future in consuming golf through Instagram, and the sport’s natural in-built qualities are a perfect match for it. I would not be surprised if more event organisers do not take an Instagram-lead approach to how their competition will be consumed, and I expect that governing bodies, golf clubs and courses better be making sure that their strategy ensures they are making the very most of the platform to engage the new generation of golf consumers.

Written by Harry McInley

Harry is Co-founder of 1PUTT Golf, a new golf event concept which reinvents the golf experience, to make the game more exciting, fast-paced and accessible for all player abilities.

So the Rules of Golf have changed… But is anything actually different?

You might have heard that the New Official Rules of Golf came into play on 1st January 2019.

This was a move instigated by the R&A (the official governing body for World Golf) and it was marked as one of the biggest changes in the sport’s history which was set to modernise, innovate and speed up the great game and bring it into the 21st Century.

Proverbial caps off to them, who had the painstaking task of going through the somewhat biblical Rules of Golf book to put 400 years worth of traditional rules under the microscope to see where the game of golf could be tweaked to be conducive to a modern audience who generally calling for something more exciting and engaging.

Thousands of pounds were spent on legal fees, thousands of articles were written about what was going to be changed as well as thousands of hours of combined confusion unearthing rules which people never even realised existed which were now being bought to their attention. Despite this, we were all happy to put up with the confusion, because the intent was coming from the right place. Re-assessing the rules and seeing how they could evolve with the times could only be a positive…… right?

Well.

As I sat there last night watching the final round of the Genesis Open on the PGA Tour, I think I and indeed anyone else watching could have been excused for thinking that absolutely nothing had changed.

Bar the flag now being able to be kept in whilst putting on the green (one change that I actually really like), to the half-naked eye, absolutely nothing was different from an event which took place last year. Of course, to a playing professional or caddy there may be a lot more to think about which the new rules have affected, but let’s be honest, for the average viewer at home, they couldn’t really care less.

If anything, some of the changes have resulted in even more confusion and hilarity rather than clarity. Golfer & logical thinker Bryson deChambeau’s hilarious drop from the knee earlier in the year and Rickie Fowler’s ridiculous ruling at the Waste Management Open are just a couple of examples of this.

Most depressing and frustrating of all, the new rules were meant to speed up the game. In reality, we had the pleasure of watching a certain JB Holmes who took the parable of The Hare & The Tortoise to new levels last night as his “slow and steady” game was good enough to overcome the rest of the field and take the title. Taking nothing away from his brilliant golf, it can’t be denied that JB’s ugly swing, open neck zip sweaters and 3-hour putting routine isn’t excellent for viewing. (Take a closer look at this blog post’s cover photo – yes he did hold up his putter to line up a 6-inch putt.)

It’s difficult to see how the rules of golf is negating the most pressing issues.

It raises a very important question.

Is the traditional game of golf anti-innovation by design? Are the game’s well-intended efforts to modernise only resulting in more eye rolling moments that the golfing audience is getting so accustomed to seeing?

With a game steeped in so much tradition, history and boundaries, would golf be better off looking at the game with completely new eyes?

Is it out of the question to create an entirely new version of golf stripping everything back to a blank canvas and creating new, simple rules taking as much common sense as possible from a 21st century perspective into account?

This version could operate as a stand-alone event, aside from the traditional events which take place on the tour. Like the Twenty20 format did for cricket, this new version could provide a totally new, refreshing environment and example where new rules, new attitudes and innovation can flourish and toxic tendencies like slow play and “play it safe” golf would be excluded by design.

Written by Harry McInley (director of 1PUTT Golf)

1PUTT is a new version of golf which seeks to look at the game with totally new eyes and create a more modern, exciting and accessible experience for both the player and the viewer. Who knows what cascading impact a 1PUTT event could have on the innovation of golf as a whole. Learn more about the concept here.

Golf Coverage: Where’s it heading?

Anyone who was – or trying to – follow the USPGA Championship last month would have found that it was not being shown on Sky Sports, as it usually is.

For why this was the case, head over to our previous article about Eleven sports buying the rights and streaming it online rather than showing it through a traditional TV broadcaster.

For obvious reasons, this was met with a lot of negative controversy, with many being so used to throwing on the TV to watch these events now having to sign up online and watch it on a laptop or iPad being a real inconvenience. It certainly wasn’t ideal, and unless you were super prepared with your HDMI cable  you may have just settled for BBC updates. A desperate shame, seeing as the Sunday was, in my opinion, one of the greatest days in Golf Major history, with Brooks Koepka playing invincible golf with The GOAT back from the dead chasing down right to the end, shooting an inspired, and totally ridiculous 64.

To add to these woes, Eleven sports is a paid service, so had Sunday not fallen within the 7-day free trial, it would have been an extra cost too.

So the expected reaction would be to cite this as an outrage and let’s return everything to its usual state. Well, not so fast.

Whilst granted, it’s a bit annoying to change habits and be expected to pay another additional cost, I think that on the whole, the shift could be a very exciting one, not just for golf fans but all sports fans.

Anyone who watched the Eleven Sports coverage will have noticed that it was different from your standard Sky coverage. Whilst in places it was a little bit scratchy and less well-polished, which can only be expected from a very first attempt at it, there was something about the coverage that felt more intense, more exciting. Younger, non-golf specialist on-course presenters seemed a breath of fresh air, trying to get under the skin of the players, in comparison from your older, Golf-fanatical commentators who are often obsessing over rules, lies and swings.

In terms of logistically watching a streamed service rather than one through a TV box, I think this is a minor issue seeing as with the rise of Smart TVs and more and more instances of sport being watched via an internet connection, I see this only being a real problem for the late adopters who are unwilling to change their viewing habits, and will get better and easier with time.

The most exciting prospect from all of this though, is the opportunity that comes with decentralising all coverage away from just a small few broadcasting channels, who have a very set-in-stone, traditional experience they want to give their viewers, with less opportunity for drastic change and innovation.

With a new, disruptive player in Eleven Sports, brings new, fresh perspectives and new ideas about how sport can be enjoyed at its best. On the ‘about’ section of the Eleven sports website, the company cites its mission to “enhance the viewing experience, bringing fans closer to the action” which is an exciting purpose to have – for this I can only give kudos for being bold enough to try.

It will be interesting to see their strategy going forward. Will they be more bullish in Golf to try and corner a niche such that a golf lover will almost have to get a subscription? Perhaps even more exciting, could there be an opportunity for the platform to begin creating their own, unrestricted content tailored to fans, as we have seen Netflix do in the Tv Entertainment space? What about a new format event independent from the highly restrictive and traditional European and PGA golf tours?

You can only ask the question.

I look forward to seeing what the future holds with Golf coverage, and if we can be patient, there could be exciting times to come.

1PUTT is a new innovative version of golf played within a new atmosphere and with shorter and more exciting formats to modernise the game for a greater variety of audiences to enjoy. We believe that we can create a golf course environment that could be the key to unlocking golf’s true potential.