Roger Knick, CEO of the Golf Performance Center, says golf must evolve post-COVID-19
As golf emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Golf News Hub is conducting interviews with various leaders about the state of the industry. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Golf News Hub: How have you personally been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?
Roger Knick: By staying put, reducing my activities to a minimum and avoiding contact points as much as possible. My meetings, coaching and business-related activities were all moved to virtual sessions. I have also been more focused on my own physical and mental wellness by increasing my workouts and meditation.
How has your company been dealing with the situation?
As unfortunate as it was, as soon as we went into quarantine in March, I realized we had an incredible opportunity and urgency to focus on new innovations across the organization. Within a week, the Golf Performance Center began providing virtual sessions for our junior and adult memberships. The Junior Golf Hub (JGH) played a critical role in this by supporting and enabling much of the success of virtual coaching. JGH has also risen as industry leader in providing high touch points for college coaches searching for young talent that have not been able to travel or participate in normal golf competitions. Ethan Allen Preparatory is a blend of online and classroom learning for our student athletes, and it was able to quickly transition to all virtual with remote support from EAP faculty.
What are your thoughts on how the pandemic has affected the golf industry?
This could be a wake-up call to the golf industry considering how many golf professionals are exposed to a big downturn in income or revenues. We have to find a better way to help golfers. Professionals and clubs understand that a developmental plan is a better systematic approach to improving and enjoying the game. It will keep more people involved in the activity of learning and enjoying the outdoors, akin to hiking and learning how to hike properly.
What about the future of the golf industry in this “new normal”?
The future of the golf industry is on shaky ground, but for the advantaged few the game will continue to be accessible. Unfortunately, because of the disadvantaged and middle class that have lost jobs or had salary cuts, it will take the golf industry a few years to recover to get back to the heights it achieved in the early 2000s. Many players will either give up the game totally or reduce spending for themselves and their children altogether.
What is your biggest takeaway from undergoing this ordeal?
Golf needs to be more accessible to all classes. Golf professionals are lone wolves in the dangerous world of economic changes caused by natural disasters or pandemics. However, if we are better at educating about the difficulties of the game and have a plan for long term development to enjoy, improve and excel, we will find less frustration and more enthusiasm for golf. We love the game for the great life lessons it teaches us, such as mental and physical skill development as well as team-building. We can be stronger if we amplify those lessons.