Remember when you took a swing with the original Big Bertha, or walked the fairways in a pair of cleated golf shoes for the very first time? Can you recall the exact day you received your first ever clubfitting, or teed up a coloured golf ball to a precise distance calculated from your shiny, new GPS device? Golf has been inundated with innovation for as long as its fairways have been green. Indeed, a game steeped in so much untouched tradition has ironically had no problems moving with the times, in most areas at least. And while we could wax nostalgic all day long about our favourite clubs and gadgets that changed the game yesterday, acknowledging today’s trailblazers for change is a feat in itself. From products that redefine the lesson and leisure markets to golf clubs that are breaking the membership mould, these are (in no particular order) the innovations – and innovators – making golf better for tomorrow.
Toptracer Range is set to redefine the driving-range experience in Australia. The new technology provides instant shot replays and statistical feedback on interactive game screens in your hitting bay, which allows players to make swing adjustments and immediately see the impact on their golf shot. Toptracer Range [above] also features games and modes suited for all ages and skill levels. Take on the world in a long-drive competition, play nearest-the-pin with your friends, dive into advanced analytics to fine-tune your swing, and virtually tee it up at some of the world’s greatest courses. Your range experience will never be the same. And the kicker? Customers can use the Toptracer Range Community App to link their personal profiles to access their entire history of shot data, including specific club performance details, as well as how they rank against other players on leaderboards.
Tell your local driving range manager to check out www.toptracerrange.com.au
Nano Bubble Technologies
Golf’s turf grass industry is about to change forever thanks to nanobubbles, a breakthrough Aussie invention that infuses oxygen into stale golf course water supplies to accelerate turf growth and improve soil quality. What started as the brainchild of Avondale Golf Club member Gary Stone to kill off bacteria in his meat-processing plants quickly shifted to a genius solution to his club’s poor turf quality. Nanobubbles are microscopic bubbles of gas suspended in a base liquid. Stone’s Nano Bubble Technologies injector generates between 30 and 50 million nanobubbles of gas in a millilitre of water – something some scientists had said was impossible. After a successful trial, Avondale made the decision to install a NBT system to continually treat water pumped from its stale dam and store it in a holding tank prior to being used for irrigation. The result was immediate clean water distributed to the turf with optimal oxygen for growth. Avondale’s irrigation system was no longer spreading pythium – a fungus-like parasite that thrives in low-oxygen environments and causes root-rot – around the course. What’s more, the pythium already in its soil was driven away from the healthier root system created by the NBT-treated irrigation water. The technology is not cheap – it can cost upwards of $300,000 to install – but it could save clubs millions on maintenance long term if Avondale’s story is anything to go by.
Learn more at nanobubble.com.au
ISPS Handa Vic Open
It’s rare you find a golf tournament that doesn’t draw criticism in some shape or form. But with the ISPS Handa Vic Open played on the Bellarine Peninsula’s Thirteenth Beach layouts, we’ve found one. No longer is this even a humble, old state open. It’s now a global phenomenon and a unique addition to both the European and LPGA tours. Why? Because it breaks down just about every barrier in the game by featuring concurrent men’s and women’s events for equal prizemoney where men and women share the course in an alternate group format. While the women’s event is jointly sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and ALPG, the men’s tournament is part of both the European Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia.
“There is no downside to this event,” says European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew “It really is an inventive initiative and a fun format. I’m enjoying the different vibe that comes with having the men alongside.”
Adds Australian golf’s thinking man Geoff Ogilvy: “The guys and girls thing just makes sense. Everybody has been praising this event for the past four or five years. That’s all I’ve been hearing in the locker room. The people walking on the fairways, guys and girls at the same tournament, alternating groups, a cool venue, two different courses. It’s all great. They are ticking every box.”
Stay up to date at vicopengolf.com
It appears golf fans in Australia and around the world can enjoy more flexibility watching golf. Discovery caused the biggest shift in the global golf-media landscape when it signed a
$2 billion, 12-year deal with the US PGA Tour last year and made subsequent deals with the European Tour and Ladies European Tour. As a result, Discovery’s new GOLFTV began providing live-streaming coverage of those tours around the world in January. The GOLFTV app and website (golf.tv) – now available in Australia but not the US – offer on-demand programming, including exclusive content created with Tiger Woods that’s expected to air in the second quarter of this year.
“Over time, our ambition is to grow GOLFTV into a true ecosystem around the sport, offering fans a one-stop shop for all things golf and built around the foundation of great content and all the best live action,” says Alex Kaplan, president and general manager of Discovery Golf.
For now, the PGA Tour’s bold deal with Discovery divides the game into two – the United States and the rest of the world. But will it stay that way forever?
See golf.tv for more
Yarra Yarra Golf Club
Not too many clubs in the country are doing more to break the mould than Yarra Yarra on Melbourne’s famed Sandbelt. Under the astute guidance of general manager Peter Vlahandreas, the club is adding unrivalled value to its membership, while at the same time becoming more accessible to the rest of the world than it has ever been. Its mission statement – “Old is the New” – saw the appointment of renowned American course architect Tom Doak to oversee an extensive course restoration project that’s returned the iconic layout to its glorious Alex Russell roots. But it’s off the course where Yarra Yarra is also moving with the times. With a big focus on the health and wellbeing of its members, the club installed its own fitness centre in 2017, while it has also signed off on a host of bespoke corporate partnerships that provide a genuine mutual benefit to both club and companies.
“We call it our one-percenters program – a real focus on the small things within our club,” says Vlahandreas, whose staff, he says, are more engaged, motivated and easier to retain than ever before. “We have a golf course that our members can once again be proud of and our interstate and international visitation rates have increased significantly.”
But the ultimate reward for innovative thinking? Yarra Yarra’s membership has reached a waiting list for the first time in seven years. How many clubs would like to be able to say that?
Check out yarrayarra.com.au for more
Shot Scope V2
Data is power. Be in control of your game with Shot Scope V2. Developed by a team of elite golfers, V2 automatically collects more than 100 Tour-level statistics, each handpicked to facilitate game improvement.
Meaningful stats, broken down into bite-size data segments for easy analysis makes understanding your game easier than ever. With Shot Scope, data is laid out in interactive graphs and charts so that you can drill down into every aspect of your game.
View the distance and usage of each club, filter by season and compare different clubs of the same type to determine which works best for you. Make informed decisions on the course with data-driven decision making on any shot from any distance.
See shotscope.com.au for more
Bushnell Pro XE Laser Rangefinder
Accurately – better yet, precisely – measuring temperature and altitude in calculating distances is a useful tool for any serious golfer. Being exact with how current conditions will influence your shots is what every tour-level player seeks. Bushnell’s Pro XE, the company’s latest laser rangefinder, uses internal sensors to gauge temperature and adjusted altitude, along with a refined ‘Slope’ algorithm. Of course, these features are non-conforming for competitions, so the device offers a switch to turn off slope capabilities. The Pro XE [above] also includes the company’s new PinSeeker with Jolt technology, enhancing a user’s confidence they have locked in on the flag with a red ring that flashes upon accurate measurement. All of this, plus enhanced magnification (up to seven times) makes the Bushnell Pro XE the company’s most complete laser rangefinder.
Take a closer look at championsports.com.au
Ping Sigma 2 Adjustable Putters
The proper length might just be the only thing that matters in putting, says Paul Wood, Ping’s vice-president of engineering. How important? According to Ping’s research, four of five golfers in a recent test of 150 golfers putted better when the length of the putter was changed by at least half an inch from the standard 35 inches. While Ping has offered adjustable length putters in the past, it was more of a curiosity and the use of an exterior locking ring was not seamless to the player’s eye. With the new Sigma 2 range, Ping’s engineers moved the adjustability elements on the shaft within the standard grip itself, using a glass-reinforced high-strength nylon tube that connects to the main putter shaft. A standard hex-shaped adjustable wrench fits into the hole at the butt end of the putter grip, allowing an infinite range of length tweaks between 32 and 36 inches where every turn equates to about a quarter-inch length adjustment. This allows either a fitter or a player to easily experiment to fit himself for the ideal length for a particular height and posture so the eyes stay in an ideal, consistent position over the ball. Genius!
Learn more at americangolf.com.au
All Abilities Championship
In a world-first in Sydney last year, golfers with a disability competed on the same course, under the same tournament playing conditions, alongside many of the world’s best touring professionals competing for the Emirates Australian Open’s time-honoured Stonehaven Cup.
The Australian All Abilities Championship started the week at The Lakes Golf Club as a perceived sideshow to the main event and finished the week as the hero of the tournament.
Five Australians were among the elite 12-person field that stole the show and provided inspiration to anyone not just wanting to play golf, but live life without restriction. The AAAC field also featured seven Europeans as part of the collaboration between Golf Australia and the European Disabled Golf Association that aimed to increase the profile of inclusive golf on the global stage.
Stay up to date on this year’s event at golf.org.au/All-Abilities
All sports – not just golf – can often face criticism for spending too much time and money on their elite performers while neglecting the grassroots. Australian golf is changing that with the Outback Queensland Masters. Launched recently at Victoria Park Golf in Brisbane, the OQM will enable golfers of all ages and abilities to take their games to all corners of Queensland during 2019. The multi-staged event is an opportunity for the amateur golfer to test their skills in a premium competition running all across outback Queensland with the ultimate life-changing opportunity in the million-dollar hole at Mt Isa. “Not only will it shine a spotlight on some great regional Queensland centres, but also on some golf courses that have great appeal, if not the fame to match,” says Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt.
Register now at outbackqldmasters.com
FootGolf, as the name suggests, is a new hybrid sport blending football (soccer) and golf. It is played on the golf course using a round football which is kicked into larger holes positioned off the fairway. Like traditional golf, the aim is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest shots – or in this case, kicks – to win. Great fun for the whole family and quick to play (about 45 minutes per round), the concept is being used to great effect by clubs keen to offer non-golfers a taste of the sport’s addictive gameplay. Two of FootGolf’s pioneering clubs in Australia are Horizons Golf Resort ([email protected] or 0439 759 785) in the New South Wales region of Port Stephens and Northbridge Golf Club (northbridgegolfclub.com.au or 0425 806 917) on Sydney’s north shore.
Grab the kids and give it a try or check out footgolf.org.au
After making a successful Australian debut at the iconic Adelaide Oval in 2018, the international craze of Stadium Golf looks to have found a home Down Under.
More than 1,800 people – including 40 PGA professionals – walked away from Adelaide Oval last year all agreeing on one thing: Stadium Golf was an experience unlike anything they’ve had before. A partnership between Australian Golf Digest and Adelaide Oval to bring the bespoke nine-hole stadium course to our shores paid off big time, with hundreds of new golfers getting their first taste of the sport by hitting shots to nine different greens from nine different tee locations around a stadium famous for hosting cricket and football matches.
The concept received rave reviews and national prime time coverage across all major television networks including Fox Sports, Seven, Nine and Ten, and with negotiations already underway with other major sporting venues across the country, stay tuned for an event near you.
Visit adelaideovalstadiumgolf.com.au for more information
Precision Golf is the only indoor driving range in the world using Flightscope launch monitors in every bay. Based in Chatswood on Sydney’s lower north shore, Precision Golf is an indoor golf entertainment facility that boasts HD golf simulators, 3D golf lessons, custom clubfitting and simulators that let you play some of the world’s best golf courses.
The centre’s indoor driving range also allows you to create an account online with Trugolf so you can save all your practice sessions and monitor your improvement.
Check out precisiongolf.com.au
Big Swing Simulators
The biggest knock on simulators is replicating putting in a realistic way. Big Swing Simulators’ Virtual Green is as realistic of a representation as we’ve seen. Users can change the contours on the putting green using a touchscreen, mimicking uphill, downhill and breaking putts by raising and lowering the surface to physically shift the green. Now with Putt View technology, the product allows you to visualise the line of the break and shows a golfer a track of their actual putt after they’ve hit it.
Big Swing Golf is the ultimate indoor golf experience with state-of-the art simulators and facilities, conveniently located and ready to play – always in air-conditioned comfort.
Play one of almost 90 championship courses, practise, or have a coaching lesson on the same simulator owned and used by Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth. Big Swing Golf is perfect for the serious golfer or your next work or social function.
Give it a try at your nearest Drummond Golf outlet
Concourse Smart Wheels
In recognition for outstanding design and innovation, Aussie company Concourse Golf’s Smart Wheels has received a prestigious iF Design Award.
One of the most prestigious design prizes in the world, the iF Design Awards are internationally renowned as a seal of quality for exceptional design and outstanding services.
The world’s first completely self-contained electric wheel set for push buggies, Concourse Golf has pioneered a game-changing experience for golfers, cleverly replacing the existing wheels on a push buggy to transform it into an advanced, remote-control operated electric powered buggy in a matter of seconds.
“We have always pushed design and engineering boundaries to deliver a better experience for the walking golfer,” says David MacKay from Concourse Golf. “Gone are the often enormous and heavy singular battery, axle and centrally positioned motor of typical electric buggies. Instead, Smart Wheels provide a more compact and convenient overall experience for golfers by significantly reducing weight while increasing stability and handling.”
The Smart Wheels concept effectively ‘reinvents the wheel’ with enormous potential for applications in healthcare, transportation, logistics, and other
Order Smart Wheels at concoursegolf.com
These shoes come in something way better than a cardboard box. During the Major season golf shoe company True Linkswear, whose creative director is Jason Moore – brother of PGA Tour pro Ryan Moore – won’t be delivering their shoes in boxes anymore. Instead, shoes will arrive in this reuseable bag. Once you take your shoes out, you can use the bag as a shoe bag, a shag bag for all of your practice balls, or put it in your cart and use it to hold your beers. No judgement.
See truelinkswear.com.au if you don’t believe us
Cork & Fork Tournament
A teams golf event where the emphasis is on enjoying an 18-hole degustation of the finest wine and food the New South Wales Hunter Valley has to offer. It sounds too good to be true, but The Vintage Golf Resort & Spa’s annual Cork & Fork weekend is no myth. It’s a thing and it’s fast becoming one of the country’s absolute must-do events. With marquees set up on every tee offering tasting samples from a local signature restaurant or premier Hunter winery, the Cork & Fork has generated a cult following from golf and wine aficionados alike. It’s a truly unique way to experience and indulge in the best from one of the premier wine locations in the country, all while enjoying a relaxed ambrose event in the peaceful and challenging surrounds of one of Greg Norman’s most popular Aussie courses. Bookings are limited so be quick.
Phone (02) 4998 2208 or visit thevintage.com.au
FootJoy FJ Fury
FootJoy has launched one of its most athletic and stylish shoes ever with the new FJ Fury. Infused styling, combined with the most feature-laden component package in its class, has resulted in a product that was engineered to deliver all-around comfort and performance. FJ Fury is highlighted by a number of unique performance features, including an internal fit system that focuses on fit, comfort and support. Designed from the inside-out, FJ Fury features the proprietary TruFit System, providing stability where golfers need it and comfort where they want it. Inside the shoe is a soft, stretch, one-piece Inner Fit Sleeve underneath the insole board to provide a secure fit with no tongue slippage, enveloping the foot in comfort and control. The external FlexGrid MLC cage system adds structure to the upper and locks in the foot as you lace up, offering medial and lateral support and motion control through the swing. FJ Fury also generates custom comfort with an OrthoLite Impressions FitBed, comprised of two densities of foam – an Open Cell PU Foam that maintains its mechanical properties and cushion throughout its life cycle, and an Impressions Foam that takes an impression of your foot, creating a custom fit.
The all-new D3 Outsole on FJ Fury ensures a solid, rigid platform for lateral in-swing stability and turf-grabbing traction, while the FTF+ (Fine Tuned Foam) infused midsole delivers incredible comfort and cushioning.
See footjoy.com.au for more details
Callaway Epic Flash Driver
To say the new Callaway Epic Flash drivers shift the paradigm for face design is to not understand the word “paradigm”. The fact is a paradigm is an established trend or typical example, and a paradigm shift might be seen as a natural and logical progression in the refinement of a particular design. But when you want to change the possibilities for distance and ball speed in a game where the rules seemingly have you hemmed in at every turn, you’ve got to think not merely outside the box, you’ve got to think with a new brain. Probably a new box, too. So Callaway’s engineers taught a super-computer to design a faster driver than they’d ever seen before. Of course, the face is not merely unlike anything that has been seen before – it literally could not have been humanly imagined.
We’re not going to go too far into what machine learning is, but suffice it to say it’s where a computer technically gets smarter not only than human engineers, but in ways human engineers would never have considered. According to Callaway, the process for designing the Epic Flash produced 15,000 iterations when a traditional driver design process might only yield eight or 10. It required a supercomputer running 24 hours a day, seven days a week for four weeks straight. For perspective, had the same calculations been tried on a typical laptop, it would have taken 34 years. The result Callaway says is unique face flexing where most impacts occur and better energy transfer than was possible before. Or, as Callaway puts it, “Your best shots just got a whole lot better.”
See callawaygolf.com.au for more
Beat The Pro
Debuting at this year’s World Super 6 Perth tournament, Beat the Pro provided a whole new level of inside-the-ropes access for golf fans. Up to 20 lucky spectators got to tee off against the pros on the par-3 12th hole at Lake Karrinyup Country Club for their chance to win $1,000 worth of golf products. An initiative launched on the European Tour in 2016, Beat the Pro sees an amateur contestant aligned with each group of professionals in the field. After the professionals have teed off on the par-3, the amateur has one shot to try to beat the pros in a nearest-the-pin competition.
“The ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth is driving innovation in Australian golf and the introduction of Beat the Pro is another initiative instigated by the PGA to modernise the fan experience at Aussie tournaments,” says Gavin Kirkman, chief executive of the PGA of Australia. “We want to keep evolving and growing the game and engaging fans in a competition like Beat the Pro fits the bill perfectly.”
The initiative was open to golfers of all ages with an official handicap of 18 or less, including juniors, and quickly garnered the attention and support of players, including rising star Lucas Herbert.
“This is such a cool competition. I think back to when I was a kid and the chance to go head-to-head with pros I usually watched on TV, at an actual tournament would have been better than Christmas.”
See worldsuper6perth.com for more tournament innovations.
Golf broadcasting and photography hasn’t escaped the revolutionary wave the sport continues to ride. In fact, you could argue drone technology has done more for the sport’s coverage than just about anything. Drones offer so much more versatility in terms of where you can go, what you can photograph, the drama you can create with capturing video and also the complete portability when travelling from one location to the next. All of this is even before you consider the significant cost saving. Whereas previously photographers would use helicopters (where the cost of a couple of hours in a chopper is equivalent to purchasing a fairly high-end drone); now all their thinking is about how to use a drone to capture a similar situation.
“I have been using drones for more than two years now to capture aerial images of golf courses and found they have completely changed the face of golf-course photography,” says world-renowned golf course photographer Gary Lisbon. “While on-the-ground imagery will always showcase how the golfer sees a particular hole, when you capture an image with a bit of height it can show off certain nuances and features of a course not always apparent from the ground. Drone technology will
only improve over time with improved photo and video resolution, smaller drone size, even lower costs and quieter operation. I can’t wait.”
Neither can we, Gary!
A revolutionary, fast-paced golf format drew much fanfare at Curlewis Golf Club on the Bellarine Peninsula in January, pitched as the Twenty20 of tournament golf.
The brainchild of Adelaide based property developer Simon Zybek, Blitz Golf was a lightbulb moment for Zybek after thinking how he could get all the excitement of a traditional four-round event packed into one day. Blitz Golf is still a traditional strokeplay event that’s played according to the Rules of Golf, but that is where the similarities end. The 40-player field is split into two pools and players compete over four individual rounds, but not the traditional 18 holes per round. Round one is just nine holes before the first cut is made. The top-12 players from each pool progress to round two, this time played over six holes. A further cut is made before round three with the top-six players in each pool progressing to the exciting three-hole round. After the three-hole sprint, the players have played all 18 holes on the golf course. The final cut is then made with the top-two players from each pool now moving to round four, a sudden-death playoff on the 18th hole.
Blitz Golf’s inaugural event was held at the Glenelg Golf Club in April last year with many of Australia’s best young and most experienced players battling it out. Blitz Golf is not always about the golf, either. One of the main elements that make this exciting new format so attractive to players and spectators is the carnival atmosphere, which includes outdoor bars, DJs and kids activities to keep the whole family entertained throughout the day.
Learn more at blitzgolf.net
Ecco Strike Shoes
A result of Ecco’s commitment to designing golf shoes that provide performance-enhancing grip, the new Ecco Strike design is defined by an improved spiked outsole which features a rotational line that compliments the natural movement of the foot throughout the swing.
The sole combines strategically positioned Zarma-Tour spikes with a series of hybrid cleats – a concept that’s engineered to provide increased room for dynamic traction, as well as reducing the overall weight of the shoe. The hybrid elements, including a rotation line on the toe, are complemented by the Zarma-Tour spikes which utilise six flexible, anti-clogging comfort legs to maximise traction and durability.
The re-engineered cleat configuration represents an evolution in spiked golf shoe performance, with the overall stability of the shoe further increased by a more optimised Fluidform platform, providing a finely-tuned balance of cushioning and rebound.
Throw in a removable, washable Ortholite foam inlay sole which provides long-term cushioning and enhanced breathability, as well as the option of extra width when you take it out, and this shoes has it all.
See americangolf.com.au/ecco-golf for more information
Srixon Z-Star and Z-Star XV balls
Srixon’s new Z-Star and Z-Star XV balls feature an inside distance story fuelled by power and an outside spin story so detailed it reaches the supramolecular level. While core technologies are the basics of golf ball design, it’s what Srixon is doing with its urethane cover that involves something outside of the ordinary, including what’s known as a “super molecule”. First, its ultrathin urethane cover design (just 0.5 millimetres thick) means the Z-Star balls use less of the naturally slow urethane material in the ball’s design. Second, while a thicker urethane cover might more easily get into the grooves of short irons and wedges for more spin, the Z-Star balls’ thin covers get an extra coating designed to create more friction for more spin. This treatment, the company’s “SpinSkin”, is now in its fourth generation, but it’s been updated with use of a new superpolymer. Known as SeRM or “Slide-Ring Material”, this enhancement changes the molecular structure of the coating to create stronger and more flexible molecular bonds that give at impact taking on what Srixon calls “unprecedented levels of shearing force”. Srixon engineers says this material allows the thin cover to penetrate the grooves for better grab and spin control on approach shots and shorter shots around the green. And we could all benefit from that.
See srixon.com.au for more
Curlewis Golf Club
Is this the most innovative and forward-thinking club in the land? Here’s a brief rundown of Curlewis Golf Club’s initiatives under new owners David and Lyndsay Sharp.
Firstly, there’s The Range @ Curlewis – a game changer in Victorian golf featuring 18 state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor driving bays fitted with auto tees, Trackman and ES15 technology, along with a dedicated chipping zone, a very cool two-tiered mini-golf course and two X Golf simulators.
Then there’s the club’s Junior Squadron – a program with dedicated pathways from beginner level to junior pennant under the tutelage of the club’s professionals.
A popular destination for FootGolf, Curlewis also embraces equal opportunity and doesn’t have a men’s president or female president, just a president who happens to be female.
The Curlewis Golf Club women’s committee are leading the way on the Bellarine, being one of the first clubs to start offering Golf Australia’s Get On Course women’s program.
And it won’t be long before you can stay at this entertainment mecca, with construction of eco-friendly accommodation set to start shortly that will host up to 100 guests. During your stay you’ll be able to see why this club is fast becoming a foodie destination under the helm of head chef Tara Thyer, who dishes up an array of superb meals using fresh, local produce.
But if its traditional 18-hole golf that still gets you excited, current course upgrades will leave you pleasantly surprised at Australia’s No.77 ranked course. If you’re game, ditch your push buggy for one of the club’s heart-pumping Golf Boards [left].
Check out curlewisgolf.com.au
We’ve seen remote-controlled push carts. But a hands-free, autonomous push cart to carry your bags and follow you on the course? That’s Club Car’s innovative Tempo Walk, released to the public at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida. With a sensor that clips onto the back of a golfer’s belt buckle, the Tempo Walk uses motion-detection technology, similar to the back-up video used in cars, to follow a golfer with their clubs. How does the device not roll into a bunker or onto the green? A golfer can toggle the switch on and off through the belt-buckle sensor. So when you get to a hazard, make sure to be careful. The Club Car Tempo Walk also includes space designed for a sand-divot bottle, a clubholder – and even room on the side for a cooler. The product is leased directly to clubs and so a price for retail is not available.
See clubcar.com for more
Lakeside Golf Club Camden
There’s an old saying: “Location, location, location.” Lakeside Golf Club Camden has certainly been blessed with this as Sydney’s housing boom continues its push into the city’s south-west. With a new, diverse population moving in around it, the course has had to move with the times. Its owners, Wests Group Macarthur, appointed renowned course architect James Wilcher to continue restoration work to modernise the layout (work that includes four holes by Greg Norman Design). The course has never looked better, thanks largely to an innovative new irrigation system with wireless satellite boxes that helps maintain the surfaces to a high standard all year. The club is also awaiting approval on a new 150-seat bistro as it transforms into a prominent dining option for the community.
See camdenlakeside.com.au for more
Eastern Golf Club
Recognising that changing lifestyle, family and work commitments mean that the traditional golf club membership model requires greater flexibility and must offer more perceived value, Eastern Golf Club is challenging itself to remain a ‘club of choice’. The club is delivering one of the most comprehensive, innovative and leading golf destination experiences that is attracting golfers at all levels to the club, including a 27-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course, nine-hole par-3 “Shark Waters” course, first-class driving range facilities, a TaylorMade Performance Centre including golf tuition utilising TrackMan, K-Motion, Sam Puttlab and V1 Sports, plus a junior golf academy that delivers local community in-school and school holiday programs.
The development of incremental revenue streams has enabled the club to be less reliant on traditional golf club revenues; while gaining valuable awareness via channels that might, otherwise, have not considered visiting a golf club. The club is also a Silver Award winner for Deluxe Accommodation at the 2018 Victorian Tourism Awards in a sign of how much the stay-and-play market continues to grow from interstate and international destinations. With six spaces that can cater for up to 250 guests, attracting corporate events and weddings has been a big success, while the club continues to pride itself on its strong engagement with the local community through the support of locally based charity groups.
Go to easterngolfclub.com.au for more
Ping Prodi G Junior Clubs
The new Ping Prodi G junior clubs, as comes no surprise from the company that has been at the forefront of custom fitting nearly from its inception six decades ago, are rooted in the simple idea that kids grow. But rather than build a junior line of clubs with multiple versions for different ages, Ping has solved that problem the way you would naturally think it would: by giving kids (and their parents) the option to get the set refit with updated specifications on weight, length and flex.
The 11-club Prodi G set is built largely for juniors transitioning from their first set of clubs, but find standard clubs too long, too stiff, too heavy and with too little loft.
It features a 15-degree titanium driver built with the same concepts and materials (lightweight Ti 811 body and Ti 6-4 face) used in Ping’s G family of drivers, including the aerodynamic crown turbulators and the draw-bias found in the SFT models. There’s also a 22-degree fairway wood, 27-degree hybrid, a cavity-backed 6-iron through pitching wedge set, two specialty wedges (52 and 56 degrees) and a Voss-style blade putter. A bag completes the ensemble.
“For the first time, junior golfers can play the same technology as Mum or Dad that is custom fit and custom built just for them,” says John K. Solheim, Ping president. “We believe that has an appeal all its own and will help get kids interested in playing more.”
A key component of the Prodi G line is how Ping will custom fit the sets and offer a one-time, no-cost adjustment. The industry-first program is tabbed “Get Golf Growing”.
See americangolf.com.au for more.
Black Bull Golf Club
Just when you thought golf along the Murray River had it all, in steps Black Bull Golf Club and the man behind its genius, director of golf James McCully. Already making waves with its notorious “Bull Ring” – the signature three-hole sequence inspired by Jack Nicklaus’ “Bear Trap” at PGA National – McCully has now introduced the Bull Pen, a new-look practice range that’s so much more than a place to hit balls. Already operating as a function area with a sports bar and room for 100-plus people, McCully plans to install a giant screen within the undercover area that can be put up or rolled down to create a cinema where the seats are spread across the grass. Suddenly, a portion of the golf land that could superficially be viewed as a cash drain becomes a diverse revenue stream. Hosting concerts and festivals is all part of McCully’s vision for what he calls “a driving range on steroids”.
“It’s fast become an environment that attracts non-golfers who will hopefully become curious about the game and eventually venture out onto the course,” he adds.
Not bad for a facility that will soon add a waterside Sebel hotel to one of the best-value Top 100 courses in the country.
Visit blackbullgc.com.au for more information
Four Reds Tour
Adelaide continues to serve up one of the greatest concepts in Australian golf – combining four of the country’s finest courses with four of the world’s best wines. Take on four of the most prestigious private golf courses in the land: Glenelg, Grange, Kooyonga and Royal Adelaide [above]. At the end of each 18 holes, enjoy a bottle of specially paired premium wine along with a tasting plate sourced from the very best gourmet producers of South Australia. Four Reds offers holiday packages for three to six nights in Adelaide – only in four or five-star hotels in the heart of Adelaide – including all course fees, transfers, accommodation and paired wine experiences. There are even cellar door experiences if your love of wine delves deeper. If you haven’t experienced Four Reds you haven’t lived.
Book now at fourreds.com.au
Under Armour Spieth 3 Shoe
Under Armour, working with input from Jordan Spieth, has released its Spieth 3
This is the third generation of Spieth’s namesake shoe, and it was created with a focus on the biomechanics of the swing with the help of J.J. Rivet of the European Tour Performance Institute.
Under Armour focused on Rivet’s findings on torque and rotation during the golf swing, and what that means for stabilising the foot. Those findings resulted in a design that keeps the shoe in contact with the ground as long as possible. There are a few different technologies that help achieve this. Most visually obvious are the cleats, some of which are asymmetrical. The combination of the low-profile UA Rotational Resistance (RST 2.0) and the Softspike Silver Tornado provide stability and the ability to help a golfer rotate. If you look closely at the outsole, you’ll also notice the carbon-fibre plate for lateral stability. The outsole itself sits low to the ground, increasing interaction with the ground.
To make the shoe lighter, the upper is made of leather and textile – instead of just leather. The upper is both waterproof and breathable.
See the full range at underarmour.com.au
Spring Valley Golf Club
Just 15 months into her tenure as general manager, Fiza Errington has cemented Spring Valley’s reputation as a friendly, innovative and thriving Melbourne Sandbelt club.
Errington is passionate about growing the game and innovation is at her very core. The former scratch marker, who spent time managing Golf WA’s successful women’s teams which included LPGA Tour stars Minjee Lee and Hannah Green, has worked for the ALPG, spent two years in the Middle East as golf operations manager at The Els club in Dubai, and four years as GM of Beacon Hills in Melbourne’s outer east. Well aware of the challenges facing the industry, she immediately set about awakening Spring Valley from its slumber and putting it back in the Melbourne golf spotlight where it rightfully belongs. To do that, the club has invested in creative, fun video content that it showcases across its growing social media channels including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The club has also focussed heavily on its flexible junior and female golf program offerings, expertly run by Elissa Orr. “We’ve developed a reputation as a friendly and welcoming Sandbelt club, while achieving large membership growth over the past three years,” says Errington. “Being the home of Elite Golf, Spring Valley is proud of its linkage with the Victorian Institute of Sport, Golf Victoria, Golf Australia and Titleist.”
See Spring Valley’s full offerings at springvalleygolf.com.au
The Golf Travel Agency
The Golf Travel Agency is part of the Exclusive Sports Travel Group – a company created by passionate golfers and travellers that wanted to help other sports-loving fans experience some of the best sporting events in the world.
With such a strong focus on golf, it became apparent that while various golf tour operators hosted escorted tours, there were very few companies that were fully servicing the private non-escorted golf holiday sector. The Golf Travel Agency was created to organise holidays for golfers travelling with friends and family, in small or large groups, 365 days per year to any golf destination in the world, at prices comparable to (or even less than) those achievable if the customer books direct.
“The Golf Travel Agency is a travel agency in the traditional sense – we provide a one-stop shop to take care of all the details of your golf trip, but do not charge the customer any more for doing so,” says managing director Mike Sidgreaves. “But, unlike most traditional travel agents, as golf is all we do, we have an in-depth knowledge of the game and of the most popular golf destinations around the world because we’ve been to them all.”
The Golf Travel Agency is also an Approved Travel Licence Operator for the 2019 Presidents Cup and is offering great packages to both the star-studded event itself and to play golf on the Sandbelt, Mornington Peninsula and Tasmania’s King Island and Barnbougle before and after the tournament.
JPX919 Hot Metal irons
Balancing ball speed and launch angle. A benchmark in iron design – the JPX919 Hot Metal combines an incredible balance of launch speed and soft, controllable landing angles. The use of a high strength Chromoly 4140M and seamless cup face construction produces the highest ball speed from any Mizuno iron. Mizuno’s new stability frame ensures that each iron within the set produces the correct flight apex – with landing angles steep enough to control shots into the green.
See mizuno.com.au for more details
The Man Shake
It’s time to ditch the sugary chocolate bars and energy drinks at the halfway house because there’s a new, healthier alternative in play. The Man Shake is a healthy meal in a shake, specifically designed for men to lose the beer gut without losing all the beers. Great for breakfast as it is high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals and low in sugar, the shake is the perfect accompaniment for 18 holes so you avoid those nasty sugar crashes on the back nine. In fact, The Man Shake has up to 84 percent less sugar than other meal replacement shakes – that’s up to 88 teaspoons less sugar per week.
The brainchild of NRL legend Adam MacDougall, the product line also includes The Man Bar, perfect to keep in your golf bag for when you get the mid-round munchies.
See themanshake.com.au for more
Mount Compass Golf Course
Changing its name from Fleurieu Golf Course to Mount Compass Golf Course achieved many things for the No.96-ranked course in Australia. For starters it’s now easier to locate (at Mount Compass rather than somewhere presumably on South Australia’s entire Fleurieu Peninsula) and a lot easier to reference (most people have great trouble spelling and pronouncing the word Fleurieu). Throw in some new logos and branding, not to mention a modern website and social media presence, and all of a sudden Mount Compass has a new identity.
But in its bid to lift its profile, Mount Compass is intent on doing things differently to the rest. While renovations to its course are ongoing, its clubhouse has been upgraded to include a restaurant called The Range, with new operators so impressed they signed a 10-year deal.
Interestingly, the club offers annual green fee deals through “Playing Rights” rather than “Membership” – an important distinction, says the club’s Stephen Connor.
“We want MCGC to be the preferred golf course for the roughly 400,000 people that live in the southern Adelaide metropolitan area, as well as being a destination golf course for interstate and overseas players,” he says. “The fundamental platform for repositioning of the golf course is lifting the standard of course presentation to the highest level possible within our means. This is a continuous process.”
Mount Compass also made the decision to drop seasonal full coring of the greens and tees, replaced instead with lighter, more frequent solid tine treatment and dusting. “This means we have dramatically reduced the impact of coring on our patronage,” adds Connor. “It was a risk that we believe has paid handsome dividends, but we will continue to keep a close eye on turf condition.”
While such changes come at a cost, the club has been most fortunate to have some land around the periphery of its course that it has subdivided and sold to reduce debt and fund the upgrade and maintenance works. “Our land offering is exceptional – with all lots enjoying panoramic views across the course and nearby countryside, proximity to beaches, wineries,
restaurants and easy access to the Adelaide metropolitan area,” Connor says. “I’m delighted to report that we have seen golf revenue growing at more than 20 percent per annum – which has compounded into an 80 percent increase since the change in management. We need to keep building on that growth to see the course achieve its potential and remain a sustainable business.”
See mcgc.com.au for more
Strathfield Golf Club
Strathfield Golf Club is a club on the move. Four years ago, just as its ageing facilities were starting to feel the brunt of the changing golf landscape, a decision was made to sell off its practice range, clubhouse and car park to be redeveloped for residential housing.
Metro Property paid a whopping $52.5 million for the opportunity, subsequently building 50 stylish new townhouses on a portion of the land that range in size from two to four bedrooms.
Metro Property has since on-sold a remaining parcel of land to developer Conquest, which has started construction on two high-rise apartment towers. ‘The Greens’ will have 208 apartments across the nine and 13-storey towers.
The bold move paid off big time for Strathfield. The mega-deal allowed the club to wipe a $2 million debt, build a luxurious new clubhouse [below] and fund course improvements on its property. And you’ll do well to find a more innovative design in a clubhouse, anywhere. At a cost of more than $20 million, Strathfield’s new digs feature a lounge bar, restaurant, sports bar, café, gaming area and a 400-capacity function centre that general manager Neil Hardy says is regularly booked out for corporate functions.
“We used to have golfers walking through our old function room with their golf clubs but our new space is completely separated and no longer interferes with our members,” he says. So impressive is the new facility – complete with more than 300 car spaces, 180 of those underground – the NSW PGA head office has decided to move in and call Strathfield Golf Club home.
The club’s new golf shop is mighty impressive too, boasting three hitting bays, each with simulators for clubfitting, lessons and rounds of indoor golf. Add a new fleet of up to 60 golf carts and Strathfield will soon rival The National and Royal Sydney for the most exquisite golf club in Australia.
With Sydney-based course architect James Wilcher having already reconfigured the 18-hole layout around the new clubhouse, golfers can now enjoy the strategically designed loops of eight and 10 holes that return to the main building, an innovative ploy to encourage those with limited time on their hands to still come out and enjoy the sport. Brilliant!
See strathfieldgolf.com.au to find out more.
Future Golf – A pathway from beginner to addict
They call themselves “Australia’s greatest golf community” but the team at Future Golf (formerly GenYgolf) could soon hold an even greater tag: Australia’s No.1 pathway to playing golf. Five years ago, with golf’s spiralling participation numbers gaining unwanted momentum, Melbourne entrepreneur Ali Terai hatched a plan to stop the slide – a social golf club for young people of all abilities that provided new friendships and uncharted access to some of the best courses in the country, all at an affordable price.
“We surveyed golfers and non-golfers to learn what was really holding them back from trying a sport that has been loved since the 15th century,” Terai recalls. “The overwhelming response was a lack of flexibility and accessibility, something I personally experienced growing up. So we created a club that offered several tiers of membership to cater for all incomes, desires and skillsets. We signed key partnerships at every level of the sport, from mini-golf facilities, lessons at X-Golf (indoor simulators) to actual rounds of golf at renowned courses like Yarra Yarra, Spring Valley and Eastern golf clubs in Melbourne. Today, our members get to experience all of this and a lot more.”
Those partnerships continue to grow in number, as does the membership base of Future Golf. In the space of 12 months the club has gone from 510 handicapped members to more than 1,900, with 92 percent of those aged between 25 and 39 – encouraging numbers when you consider the average age of male and female golfers in Australia is 56 and 64, respectively. But becoming the fastest growing golf club in Australia hasn’t come at the expense of other traditional golf clubs, despite outside perceptions. In fact, since it launched in 2014 Terai’s pet project has injected more than $3 million into Australian golf and paved the way for 600 of its members to take up full-time membership at traditional golf clubs.
“We see ourselves as providing golf with a legitimate pathway from beginner to addict,” Terai says. “The beautiful thing about our model is we connect the community with our partners. We legitimately want to grow the game, so much so that we’re now focusing on how we can increase female participation. We’re the Uber or Airbnb of golf, if you like… We’re providing a platform that connects people with the fairways and it’s our goal to one day have a community of a million golfers.”
Not bad for an idea Terai once labelled “stupid” after a slower-than-expected launch period. There’s seemingly no stopping Future Golf now.
Sign up at futuregolf.com.au
Flagstaff Hill Golf Club: Golf Month Innovation Winner
Flagstaff Hill Golf Club was duly rewarded for its forward thinking by taking out Golf Australia’s Most Innovative Golf Month Promotion, winning a $15,000 marketing package with Australian Golf Digest. To do so, the club held a food, wine and golf open day, joining forces with 13 wineries, two breweries and putting on a brilliant day of entertainment for the whole family that included live music, food vendors offering local produce, wine tasting and jumping castles and face painting for the kids. “The day was aimed at introducing golf to a whole new demographic by eliminating the traditional barriers within the sport,” says Flagstaff Hill Golf Club general manager Joel Cross. “We promoted it via social media, leaflet drops, noticeboards and the Golf Month website, which resulted in 200 attendees made up of families, friends of members, children, and the general community.”
The club has also made headlines recently for selling part of its land to Living Choice Australia to make way for a $40 million retirement development, the first of its kind in South Australia.
Be sure to check out fhgc.com.au