Will There Be A Rory Effect?

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When Tiger broke into the US national consciousness, there was a great deal of discussion about the possibility of a “Tiger Effect”—hordes of young people swelling the ranks of golfers. Hundreds of new courses were built, and the owners sat back to wait for the tidal wave. It never materialized.

Fifteen years later, there’s now talk of a “Rory Effect,” in which the success of the personable young golfer could bring in a fresh influx. From a press release:

A new nationwide survey has revealed 39% of 18-24 year olds are inspired to try golf for the first time following 22-year-old Rory McIlroy’s success at the US Open Championship in June.

The One Poll survey of 1,000 UK consumers, commissioned by Burhill Golf & Leisure, the UK’s leading owner and operator of public pay-and-play golf centres, shines a light on the ‘Rory effect’ and the opportunities for golf to increase participation and attract new, younger people into the game.

However, 68% of the same age group (18-24 years) said they weren’t aware of public facilities where anyone can learn and play, or thought they had to be a member of a private golf club.

Across all ages, 56% said they were not aware of public pay-and-play facilities, raising concerns that golf is still perceived as an elitist, private club sport, when in fact there are many opportunities for people of all ages and all backgrounds to enjoy the game.

In total, 61% of all those surveyed said they were aware of Rory’s US Open success.

I actually think that there’s a better chance of a Rory Effect than there ever was of a Tiger Effect. Rory is just more likable, and given the seriousness with which he has taken his role as a Unicef Ambassador, he may perhaps be generous enough to spend time growing the game. Rory ultimately may be more of an Arnold Palmer type.

Of course, that all depends upon Rory’ ability to continue to win big.

The entire press release follows.

‘RORY EFFECT’ INSPIRES 39% OF 18-24 YEAR OLDS TO CONSIDER TRYING GOLF FOR THE FIRST TIME

Rory McIlroy’s US Open Championship success could benefit golf participation, says UK’s leading operator of public pay-and-play golf courses

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs, Thursday July 14, 2011

(Burhill Golf & Leisure, Surrey – July 14, 2011) A new nationwide survey has revealed 39% of 18-24 year olds are inspired to try golf for the first time following 22-year-old Rory McIlroy’s success at the US Open Championship in June.

The One Poll survey of 1,000 UK consumers, commissioned by Burhill Golf & Leisure, the UK’s leading owner and operator of public pay-and-play golf centres, shines a light on the ‘Rory effect’ and the opportunities for golf to increase participation and attract new, younger people into the game.

However, 68% of the same age group (18-24 years) said they weren’t aware of public facilities where anyone can learn and play, or thought they had to be a member of a private golf club.

Across all ages, 56% said they were not aware of public pay-and-play facilities, raising concerns that golf is still perceived as an elitist, private club sport, when in fact there are many opportunities for people of all ages and all backgrounds to enjoy the game.

In total, 61% of all those surveyed said they were aware of Rory’s US Open success.

Colin Mayes, Chief Executive Officer of Burhill Golf & Leisure, and the current Chairman of the UK Golf Course Owners Association, said: “Rory’s victory at the US Open has undoubtedly raised awareness of golf on the wider stage and his influence is strongly felt in the younger age range.

“The misconception that exists among young people, and more broadly, is that in order to play golf you have to become a paid up member of a private club with a strict dress code and a long list of rules.

“That simply isn’t true. Anyone can turn up at one of our seven public pay-and-play facilities and enjoy our driving ranges, short courses or full-length 18-hole courses – and they can wear jeans and a T-shirt if they wish.”

While the UK and Ireland remains the largest golf market in Europe with approximately 1.4 million registered golfers and 2,993 courses, the number of golfers in England and Wales has actually declined by more than 78,000 between 2000 and 2010 (KPMG Golf Participation Survey 2010).

However, Colin Mayes believes there are opportunities for golfers – and golf courses – to increase participation in the sport.

“We run school holiday fun days and golf camps for children and some of our centres are attracting 10-20% more juniors year-on-year. One of our venues now has more than 400 juniors registered to play on our 9-hole short course, which is a great place to learn how to play.

“What’s more these young people are learning the values of golf – honesty, integrity and good sportsmanship – the same characteristics that make Rory such a good role model.”

Mayes added: “It would be great for golf if Rory wins the Open.”

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1 thought on “Will There Be A Rory Effect?”

  1. If I recall the Tiger effect was also to bring in black golfers, and that too has yet to happen.

    I think another aspect is that Tiger was SO good, there is a “what is the point?”  Rory and the other young guns are good, perhaps great, but they do have a vulnerability and one where it isn’t impossible to say “I could play alongside that guy”.

    If the PGA was smart (note I said “if..was smart” – clearly they are lacking at times in the smarts)—- they would take a lesson from one Ben Crane.  What Crane has done is in a matter of months taken hold of new media to redefine himself in the golfing world.  I don’t think he has done anything to his personality – just found the way to let that out.  The pros themselves are doing this – Bubba and Hunter are also very active on twitter.  Annika is, although she is not just loading up on personal stuff like Bubba is. 

    The PGA (and I realize Rory is not part of the PGA) – needs to take it’s young guns (Jason, AK, Rickie) and it’s young at heart guys (Crane, Watson, Mahan) – and use new media like crazy to promote golf in general.  And they need to relax the rules so they can get Rory and others EPGA members playing here more often.  It is stupidity that there could be limitations on how often these players could play in the US. 

    Funny thing is that while Tiger was busy selling Nike and Buick using the old methods, the precursors to how Crane is doing what he is could be seen in one redneck named John Daly.  Daly found a way early on to connect directly with as many fans as he could given the limited access he would have because his play was suffering.

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