Since golf in general has a reputation for being stuck up, it’s perhaps no surprise that when it comes to social media the PGA is still taking baby steps when compared to other sports. I mean — in an era where the NBA has fans selecting the dunk contest winners via text message and Twitter, the PGA has a place where fans can leave messages online… for the PGA to somehow bring them to golfers.
Don’t understand what I am talking about? Look at this page, which I found by following the PGA on Twitter… and see if you think it’s about three years behind the interactivity of the times. As far as I can tell, the PGA thinks that fans may want to “congratulate” Hunter Mahan by leaving a message on some random web page — or as the PGA site says, “Leave a note below and we’ll deliver it to him.”
Umm… OK? As far as I can tell this is about as non-social as social media gets. I mean — why not have the winner do a quick Twitter chat, where he can respond to fans in real time? And they can get recognition for themselves via their Twitter handles, which after all is part of the social media game — to be recognized?
This sort of idea — you put a message here, somewhere safe, and we’ll carry it past the ropes to our winner — pretty much reflects golf’s baby steps toward real fan interaction. The online video for the World Golf match play was a perfect example of that tenor — it was a straight network-broadcast type feed, no place for fan tweets or any outside commentary. You get the feeling sometimes that golf wants to keep its game bottled up as much as it can. But I don’t think that method is going to win in the long run. Golf will need to either open up, or it will become less appealing to a fan base that is rapidly growing accustomed to having closer, more intimate access to its heroes.