The Seven Network’s airing of “Holey Moley” had its critics, but no one can deny its influence on Australia’s newfound love for mini golf. The action-packed reality show, which pitted Aussies, young and old, against each other in a series of sudden-death match-ups on a supersized miniature golf obstacle course, was every bit insane as it was instructional. But with record rounds at putt-putt venues nationwide, it clearly lit a flame with many, including the show’s resident pro and golf legend Greg Norman.
“From all reports it was the relief valve Australia needed, and hopefully another lane to help grow the game Down Under,” Norman told Australian Golf Digest.
That ‘lane’ has now morphed into a whole new highway of possibilities at Shellharbour on the New South Wales South Coast, with Links Shell Cove installing a mini-golf facility that needs to be seen to be believed.
After a multi-million-dollar renovation of “The Shed” – the club’s entertainment hub boasting spectacular views across the Links Shell Cove golf course, function facilities, sports bar and children’s entertainment areas – Links Shell Cove engaged GreenSpace Management to build the ultimate in family fun – the country’s first Shanx mini-golf course. But don’t be fooled. This isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill mini-golf facility. There are no windmills, clowns, fire-breathing dragons or cringeworthy jokes told by Norman. What GreenSpace Management has installed here is effectively a scaled-down version of a full-size golf course, designed to be played with the same rules as golf.
Boasting two separate hole locations on each green – the ‘links’ course being the easier option for beginners and kids and the ‘Shanx’ course, which will test the very best of golfers – immediately makes it appealing to golfers and non-golfers alike.
The course, still in its first stage (nine holes) of an 18-hole masterplan, is expected to generate 30,000 visitors annually to a region already brimming with tourist appeal yet determined to make up for lost time – and revenue – after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Residents and visitors come along to the Links for more than a unique golf experience,” says Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba. “The beautiful surrounds, inviting atmosphere and delicious food at The Tavern all come together to create a vibrant community space for friends and families of all ages. This Shanx mini-golf course was a key part of council’s vision to build The Links’ reputation as a community entertainment hub and is unlike any mini-golf experience available in the country.”
How Shanx became a major player in mini golf
Peter Vlahandreas knew golf was missing a vital cog in its developmental chain many years ago. The managing director of GreenSpace Management had been previously exposed to the sport’s well-publicised barriers to entry while serving in club management at high-profile courses in Melbourne.
“The golf industry had been hearing the same messages for years – ‘We’re all time poor, soaring living expenses, increased family commitments and limited disposable income’ – all these barriers to entry putting people off the sport before they even tried it. So, I decided to do something about it,” Vlahandreas says.
He knew it was time to stop doing the same thing, over and over. Vlahandreas wanted to think big and outside the square. Ironically, his big picture was how to present golf in a much smaller package, without replacing its traditions. Cue the launch of Shanx, Australia’s only turnkey mini-golf course company.
“Shanx is a unique golf-based product that breaks these barriers down and immediately changes the demographic and revenue structures of clubs and facilities,” says Vlahandreas, whose family-first approach has only gathered momentum on the back of becoming a father for the first time recently.
“We truly love what we have created, it’s the future of mini golf and in many ways, the future of golf. Shanx is designed and built by our team, so quality is maintained throughout every aspect of the process. Our services stretch from initial feasibility studies, site selection, design, construction through to operations, management and branding. In short, we want your Shanx mini-golf course to succeed as much as you do.”
Shanx custom builds aren’t limited to golf clubs either. You can be the envy of your neighbours with a bespoke Shanx at-home facility – a clever way to spruce up that hard-to-maintain backyard space.
“Our obsession to be the best means we push the boundaries in every possible aspect to deliver a truly outstanding product on the ground,” adds Vlahandreas.
How Links Shell Cove plans to leverage its Shanx addition
The aesthetics of a Shanx mini-golf course is undeniable – they look like real golf courses because they are designed by internationally renowned golf course architects. It’s exactly why Links Shell Cove general manager Robby Stephenson is so confident his club’s is destined for record numbers, both on the course and in the till.
“Our Shanx mini-golf facility is the latest part of our vision to make the Links and Tavern the community hub for the Shellharbour residents,” Stephenson says. “I am proud that, together, the relevant stakeholders and decision-makers here have been committed to attracting 100 percent of the community to this facility, which will result in an endless number of benefits being realised, from wide-ranging community support, increased asset value, healthier residents, increased patronage and an overall stronger community.”
As for the product itself, Stephenson said there was nothing like it.
“The Shanx mini-golf experience is unlike anything else I have seen,” he says. “The difference is in its simplicity. The design team at GreenSpace Management has simply taken the essence of what we love about golf and made a smaller version of it. I love that the course engages your mind; there is a risk and reward decision to be made on every hole.”
Suffice to say, the local community has never had a better option for hosting birthday parties, school excursions or corporate days. What better way than to disengage from the rigours of the office than hitting this new-look links with your colleagues?
Vlahandreas also revealed Links Shell Cove will benefit from the many added extras that come with a Shanx build. “Shanx comes with a suite of merchandise and branding collateral to assist clients with revenue uplift opportunities,” he says. “Partnering with clients allows us to truly realise each facility’s unique potential and ensure its long-term success. There really is nothing like Shanx in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Which means there’s definitely nothing like it in Australia.
Links Shell Cove
Address: Golf Drive, Shell Cove NSW 2529
Phone: (02) 4237 5955
For more information on Shanx Mini Golf, visit shanxminigolf.com.au
[Main Image: Scott Campbell]