A Study of Golfers in Tennessee

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sport and leisure have been researched in many capacities over many years. Topics encompass marketing (42), travel style (40), satisfaction (49), retail (12), behavior (72) religion (65), gender-based (38), product involvement (6), sport (74) and many others that have been analyzed to better understand this phenomena. Understanding sport and leisure and its many facets are important not only to extend retail-based research, but to present possible opportunities to uncover more about some of the still underdeveloped theories of retail and consumer behavior within this area. It has been shown that consumers will spend significant amounts of money on leisure (28). Consumer shopping behavior has been proven to be important and relevant in other industries such as the tourism industry (50, 11).

Due to the significant nature of money spent on sport and leisure by consumers, sport marketers, merchandisers and others realize the need to segment the different types of sport consumers. Some studies have addressed and studied the specialized segmentation of the sport consumer. Not only do sport consumers hold specific values and attitudes (46), but they require marketers, retailers and others to take note of their unique spending habits. Other traditional consumer behavior concepts apply to the sport consumer such as brand loyalty (8), emotional attachment (67), and brand equity (20).

Golf Industry

Because the sport consumer holds some of the same behavioral traits as traditional consumers, it is important to investigate the behaviors of the sport consumer in more detail. Many sports have been investigated in regard to its consumer such as the brand loyalty of baseball, wrestling (32) and football (41). To continue to investigate the sport consumer, this paper will attempt to identify golfer consumer-based behaviors. This may help all stakeholders, to include retailers, merchandisers, academics and golf managers to better understand, serve and recognize golfer segments and to determine segmentation and/or marketing strategy for applicable segments. Though this type of study has been conducted for other entities (professional golfing organizations, for example), it has not been conducted in this manner, thus adding to the small current body of literature in this area of retail study.

Participating in a sport while partaking of a leisure activity, such as a vacation, has been found to be a growing occurrence (27). Further, one activity that has received some attention is the golfing industry. Golf's popularity continues to increase with as estimated 28.6 million participants as of 2009 (48). In fact, in 2008, golf generated approximately $76 billion in goods and services (21). Another report indicated that golfers spent $4.7 billion on equipment alone and $19.7 billion on green fees in 2002 (22). But, surprisingly, golf has been noted to be an under-researched activity (14), especially considering the impact it can make to the local and state economy. Golf travel, tourism, facility management and golf-related real estate (73) are a few of the important areas of the golf industry. It has also been estimated that the average dollar amount spent per person per golf trip was $452 with an almost 40 million golf trips taken (64). In addition, golfers spent $26.1 billion a year on golf travel (22). Research has been conducted to learn about different aspects of the sport. Topics that have been studied have included golfer's satisfaction (53, 54) destination choice (27, 14, 34), golf course development (69) and seasonality (18). Golfing lifestyles have also been a focus of research inquiry. One study found four distinct tourist typologies within the golfing industry which were: quality-seeker, competitor, high-income and value-seeker. These typologies were chosen using many attributes and demographics such as course layout, availability of tee times, fees, income, gender and age (70). …