Can Latinos Save Golf?

by Andrés T. Tapia –

HispGolfer.istock.XSmall The game of golf is in trouble.

Participation is down. Golf courses are closing. Players have cut their spending for equipment and other accessories. And young people, especially Millennials, are simply not as interested in the sport.

In my earlier 3-part series on the sport, I explored golf’s mythology, and its symbolism for mainstream and corporate America. And in the final report of the series, I talked about efforts to create inclusion for women. But including women is not going to be enough to reverse the industry’s misfortunes. Golf’s survival will require a deep look at all of its policies, practices, and marketing. All the things that diversity practitioners tell business executives about making inclusion part of any company’s DNA.

In an article on GolfBizWiki, Octavio Jacobo discussed in greater detail the challenges facing the US golf industry.

“As everyone in this business is well aware … the situation for the US golf industry has not improved; if anything the severe economical downturn has worsened it. In the last decade, golf has suffered a clear stagnation due to the economic conditions in addition to population trends and the dynamics of the industry and the sport. The NGF’s (National Golf Foundation) annual golf participation study revealed that in 2008 the number fell 3% from 29.5 million, in 2007 to 28.6 million in 2008. …”

Yet there is a potential way through the sand trap. With 50 million Latinos in the US and annual consumer spending of more than $1 trillion, Hispanics represent an opportunity for the industry. If appealed to in the right way, Latinos could be a reliable source for new golfers. According to a recent study by the NGF, there are nearly 6 million non-white golfers in the country, with more Hispanics playing than Asians and African Americans.

It only makes sense – business, economic, survival – to tap into this growing Latino market.

Teaching the mechanics of the game is only part of what’s needed. As my former colleague, Sandy Miller explained in an earlier post and was verified by another NGF study, among the biggest stumbling blocks to diversifying players in the game are the nuanced rules of golf culture – its traditions, rules, and norms. In this regard, golf can learn from corporate America and the Inclusion Paradox. Demystifying the cultural contexts for newcomers can lead to renewed energy, innovation, and profits. Reaching out to Latinos and other marginalized groups may even save the game.


Andrés Tapia is a Senior Partner at Korn Ferry International, a premier global provider of talent management solutions. Previously he served as President of Diversity Best Practices, the preeminent diversity and inclusion thinktank and consultancy. Prior to Diversity Best Practices, he served as Hewitt’s Chief Diversity Officer and Emerging Workforce Solutions Leader. As a published writer and prominent speaker, Andrés offers thought-provoking views about diversity’s impact around the world. He is the author of The Inclusion Paradox – 3rd edition: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity. Find his bio here.



One Response to “Can Latinos Save Golf?”
  1. Sure, we can. One way is to make golf more affordable for kids that want to play, but cant afford it. Please, look at our website. We are sure trying in our part of the world. helping one kid at a time, one swing at a time.

  2. Hi Andres, check us out. The Latina Golfers Association is growing the game of golf! We have over 1,200 members and over 900 Latinas have participated in our golf clinics. I just got home from the golf course where we had 17 Latinas start their series of golf lessons! I had 35 Latinas attend our golf clinic two weeks ago. The Latina Golfers Association (LGA) is making a difference! Check us out at

  3. Andrés,
    I have enjoyed your series of articles about golf and diversity. Thank for the reference to one of my articles.
    I am working on a new article about the need for a structural change in the golf industry’s organizational diversity in order to position itself to achieve the required goals of growing the game among minorities, with focus on the Hispanic population. It would be interesting to discuss this topic with you.
    I will pay the favor back and will quote and link your article (Part 2: Afternoon Shadows)
    My article will be around the PGA of America’s Golf 2.0 strategy, which I recommend you to review in the PGA magazine September 2011.
    There are a number of Groups on LinkedIn that can be good platforms of discussion for these articles’ series:
    • Golf Industry Professionals
    • Hispa Golf USA (my group)
    • PGA
    • Golf for Women in Business
    • Linked:Golfers
    • A Golf & Business Networking Group
    • Golf Marketing
    • Professionals Growing Golf
    • US Golf Leaders

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