Greg Norman wants to change the golf experience and he, along with his business partners, believe they have found the way.
The game will stay the same – nine or 18 holes, lowest score wins and putting remains a dark mystery – but Norman is intent on expanding the experience.
That is the driving force behind the announcement this week of the “Shark Experience,” a fully connected in-cart collection of content intended to expand what golf can be.
Working in conjunction with Verizon, Club Car and GPSI (which provides GPS tracking systems), Norman has turned a 10-inch video screen and two specially designed speakers into a hub for music, information, live television programming, video golf lessons, personal shot-tracer technology and more. The product will debut on 50,000 Club Car carts in 2018 and will be included on each of the company’s carts going forward.
It’s like a smart TV and an iPhone combined in one small spot.
“What has been the biggest change in golf today? Topgolf,” Norman said last week at a private announcement event in South Florida.
“They brought in 11 million people last year and 4.4 million of those had never picked up a club in their life. We have the ability to grab a percentage of that 4.4 million that are there for the fun and the entertainment and bring them to the golf course. If we can’t do that with Shark Experience, we’ve failed. They are crying out for this.”
Norman and his business partners understand this is not for every golfer and every club.
Traditionalists still push back about music on the golf course. The Shark Experience will link to Slacker radio, offering an immense selection of music choices, all played on speakers designed to keep the sound inside the cart.
If you prefer to connect your own phone, there’s Bluetooth technology for that.
Want to play golf on Saturday but don’t want to miss the college football games? They will be available live on the Shark Experience as will a crawl at the bottom of the screen updating sports scores. If you prefer to stay in touch with news or even cooking shows, those are available too.
In one test market, a father realized his 14-year-old son is now willing to spend part of his day on the course because he can watch his favorite shows while they’re out together.
If you like watching shot tracer on professional golf events, that’s part of the Shark Experience package, too. Whatever golf-related information you want from your round, it will be there, too.
Courses will be able to monitor the pace of play with the new system, theoretically reducing backlogs. They can also make money off the new technology, which is expected to have a $5 to $10 surcharge per cart (not per player).
With a cashless system built in – each user will have a card they swipe if they want food and drinks or something else – it can make purchases quicker and easier.
And if you prefer to leave modern technology behind, that’s an option as well.
“It’s your game your way,” Norman said. “We’re not forcing you to do anything. We are putting a screen on every cart and there is the flexibility for a golf club to get a revenue model out of that screen we financed.
“To dumb it down, it’s a no-brainer for a golf course. This is what people are looking for. It’s not what everybody wants. There’s no question there are certain clubs in the country that don’t want this but at the end of the day the message will get out there and you will see this thing start to generate its momentum.”