Technology and Golf’s Relationship With Uncertainty

The passion in golf is unmistakable. From the operators who work at golf clubs to the golfers themselves—Golf is a world-wide pastime that is unmistakably cherished and loved by those involved. Yet, with any great passion and love (platonic, romantic, or otherwise) there’s some downside, and golf’s downside is its comfort level with uncertainty.

What do I mean by uncertainty and why did I use the word “uncertainty”. To explain this, I’m going to take this conversation into a new light, so bear with me, but I feel it’s a necessary angle to take and one that the golf industry needs to recognize to sustain and improve.

The use of the word “uncertainty” comes from the 6 Human Needs and something that is commonly talked about and taught by life-coach and business consultant Tony Robbins. I’ll explain why uncertainty matters, but first, let’s understand the 6 Human Needs for context:

  1. Certainty: A guaranteed outcome that will evoke pain or pleasure. The need for safety, security and order; predictable
  2. Uncertainty/Variety: the desire for constant change, stimulation; excitement, challenge, chaos
  3. Significance: the feeling of being important, seen as unique – an individual; feeling special, pride, worthy
  4. Connection/Love: a relationship or strong feeling with another person; approval, intimacy
  5. Growth: knowledge seeking, path of self-discovery, expansion; spiritual expansion
  6. Contribution: strong sense of service and supporting others; protect & serve

To any degree in our lives, these needs are present at all times. Every decision, every action, every internal experience we create or external experience we react to, we do so to fill at least one of these needs to satisfy ourselves and give meaning to our choices and feelings. Because businesses and organizations are simply the makeup of its people, it’s fitting that the 6 Human Needs can also be applied aggregately to businesses and organizations. We know that money is the life blood that runs organizations, but to attain money, we operate in these fashions and value some of these needs more than others. For example, startups really value Uncertainty/Variety and also Growth. Non-profits value Contribution and Significance. With little doubt, I posit that Golf resonates most with Certainty and Love: Love for the sport and the Certainty of tradition, history, and pastime.

What golf values the least is Uncertainty/Variety. Under this premise, it can be argued that the inability to embrace Uncertainty has contributed to the slow adoption of technology in golf and has ultimately inhibited growth. We know, for example, that Golf course operators typically spend 1% of their overall budget on technology while other growing industries average 5%.

And that is why we’re discussing this topic—to explore what is possible if golf were to embrace some change and what the possibilities could be if it valued Uncertainty/Variety a bit more.

This month’s article was to set the table. Next month, we’re going to explore the concept of Uncertainty further and look at practical uses of change—specifically from the experience of one gentleman’s approach at integrating technology at his club and why it’s important for courses to integrate technology sooner rather than later.