Golf Digest Online Inc.
Golf Digest Online Inc.
Beginning in 2020, the global pandemic sent shockwaves across society, impacting economic activity across the world and forcing lifestyle changes. The pandemic also had a huge impact on the golf industry, including the GDO Group.
Since then, the global golf industry has worked to boost golf demand, introducing new playing styles, popularizing entertainment-type golf services, generating new golfers, and encouraging former golfers to take up the sport again. According to materials released by the Physical Activity Council (PAC) and the National Golf Foundation (NGF) last year, in the US -- home to the world's largest golf market -- in addition to an increase in the golfing population, the number of off-course golfers (15.5 million) enjoying golf outside of golf courses at entertainment facilities and driving ranges, for example, surpassed the number of on-course golfers (13.2 million) for the first time (excluding the 12.4 million who enjoy both off- and on-course activities). Off-course golfers now account for 37.7% of the total golfing population in the US.
The GDO Group reached its 20th founding anniversary amid the pandemic in May 2020. From our experiences of the pandemic, we realized once again just how resistant golf is to environmental changes. At the time of our founding, our concepts were simple: to lead innovation in golf through the internet, and to invigorate and broaden the horizons of the sport. We sought to achieve these goals through a clear business model -- the provision of comprehensive, one-stop golf services. Winning the support from customers through overwhelmingly convenient, good-value, and useful golf services, and creating a virtuous cycle in which customers start with one of our services and go on to use many more. The realization of these concepts remains important even today.
In 2021, we announced our mid-term business plan 2021-2023, naming it "Lead the Way -- lead the way for the next generation golf business --". The name shows our intention to establish the new types of golfing demand born from the pandemic and develop it further. The name also represents our desire to draw out the strengths and latent potential of golf, which was the reason behind our founding, as well as our desire to pioneer a new golf industry without being restricted by existing procedures and notions.
As part of this mid-term business plan, we announced the following three basic policies.The first is "Next Growth Stage". By capturing new demand through the enhancement of our core businesses and the growth of our new businesses, our aim is to enter a new phase of growth for the GDO Group.
The second is "Focused Differentiation". Using our strengths as a comprehensive golf company, we will seek thorough differentiation in our marketing, content, and technology, and aim to win overwhelming support from our customers. In particular, by combining our marketing and content and boosting added value to create something unique to the GDO Group, we will provide fresh information in various situations through various means.
The third is "Growing our profitability". By increasing profit through the enhancement of our core businesses, we will aim to improve our investment capabilities for future growth. This profit growth will only come as a result of our involvement in activities that are supported by our customers, and we will aim to create an even better virtuous cycle by using this profit to make further investments in our customers.(Please see "Medium-term Management Plan 2021-2023" for more details)
At the end of the plan's second year, we have been able to achieve stable growth in our domestic business despite unexpected environmental changes. In our overseas business, our Group company GOLFTEC -- which mainly provides golf lessons -- has announced its GOLFTEC ANYWHERE concept, through which it aims to use its advanced IT capabilities to provide world-leading golf improvement expertise anytime, anywhere. As the first step, GOLFTEC has successfully acquired a new business engaged in the planning, development, and sales of SkyTrak, the world's largest provider of consumer golf launch monitors.
This has been a significant investment for the GDO Group that has required fundraising. While the costs are only temporary, we have had to revise our earnings forecast as a result and may have caused concern among our shareholders and investors. That said, we believe that investing in GOLFTEC ANYWHERE concept is well worth the risk, and are convinced that it will play a significant role in the future growth of the GDO Group and that it could plant seeds for further business development.
Using our track record and experience as a specialist provider of IT-based golf services to the Japanese and US golf industries, at the GDO Group, we will lead the way for the digital transformation of golf services in both markets as an industry leader. In doing so, we will aim to become a comprehensive global golf service provider.
Moving forward, as the only company that can offer a comprehensive range of services to allow golfers worldwide to live better golfing lives, we will strive to increase our corporate value and respond to the expectations of our investors and customers.
Nobuya Mike Ishizaka