Hack Golf? Or Help Golf?

Prior to the official beginning of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, TaylorMade-adidas hosted an event for approximately 1,000 industry professionals where CEO Mark King, Ted Bishop (the president of the PGA of America), Joe Beditz (CEO of the National Golf Foundation) and Gary Hamel (renowned “business thinker”) made a presentation introducing a new initiative called Hack Golf.

Hack Golf is crowd-sourced platform where the general golfing public can submit their ideas on how they think the game can be improved or changed.

“Innovation stalls when the same people keep talking to each other about the same challenge over and over,” said Hamel in a press release to the media.  “We need to open the conversation up to a wider audience instead of continuing to try and innovate in the same ineffective vacuum.”

In about a month since its inception, the Hack Golf movement has acquired nearly 2,000 followers on Twitter and 420 likes on Facebook. Smaller numbers than they had hoped, perhaps (TaylorMade by comparison has 161,000 followers on Twitter and 371,000 likes on Facebook), but over 750 ideas have been submitted. The most popular idea right now is a pretty good one – it’s basically a proposal of an app that allows golfers to meet up with others in their area – and I can see TaylorMade-adidas getting behind it (they are committing $5 million over the next five years towards the most popular experiments that come from the site).

The conversation has started.

But what is maybe more surprising, Hack Golf has started a trend of other golf organizations and publications asking golfers what they love about the game.

Where Hack Golf is asking what people would like to see changed, Golf Canada, ESPN and Golf Digest are asking the golfing public to speak proudly about the game as-is.

Do you love golf? Then Tweet at @TheGolfCanada using the hashtag #WhyILoveGolf

Snap a great photo of a golf course and post it to Instagram or Twitter? Golf Digest asks that you use the hashtag #WhyILoveThisGame

And hey, they’re even adding a contest element. Share your photos and you have a chance to win a trip to the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

ESPN just announced a new video series and campaign called “Falling For Golf” where they have (you guessed it) asked golfers to submit their stories using Twitter and the hashtag #FallingForGolf explaining how they got into the game.

These are some of the biggest organizations in golf in Canada and the U.S. And I’d argue, are a little more trustworthy to the general public than a multi-million dollar corporation.

ESPN, Golf Canada and Golf Digest are trying to become part of the conversation, while Hack Golf is trying to change it.

But maybe nothing needs to be changed?

Michael Bamberger, the long-time Sports Illustrated and GOLF Magazine writer said it best in a recent column.

“If your goal is to grow the game, you have to start with the premise that the game is great. You have to have confidence in your game, basically as it is. Should it be faster? Yes. Should it be less expensive? Yes. Should your ball be easier to find? Yes. Should shirttails come out? It doesn’t matter. Should making a par on any hole, for any golfer, anywhere, remain the challenge it has always been? Absolutely. Some will be drawn to that. Most will not. That’s our exclusivity. That’s why we are a band of golfers. We are not in the mainstream. We are different. The game is what it is.”

The game’s fun. Cool. Exciting. Frustrating. It’s a lot of different things to a lot of different people. If it needs to be changed, then there’s now a platform for your voice to be heard. But don’t change it for the sake of changing it. It’s pretty good just the way it is.

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