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How is technology helping to grow the game of golf?

THROUGHOUT THE GOLF SEASON, millions of viewers tune in every weekend to watch PGA TOUR golf and, in 2018, viewership skyrocketed as the world watched Tiger Woods’ exciting comeback. That said, the younger players on the TOUR, who are compelling in their own right and have huge followings on social media, bring viewers too. The interest in golf is there. The challenge is how to convert those interested in watching the game into actual golfers.

Let’s face it, with its play etiquette and rules, dress code requirements and rich history that goes back 500 years—golf can be intimidating. An awesome sport, for sure, but intimidating when you are first learning the game. A key to growing the game is introducing it in a nonintimidating setting, and technology may be the key.

The outdoor golf and gaming entertainment category has experienced prolific growth over the past several years. Golf entertainment venues, such as TopGolf and Drive Shack, have grown immensely in popularity. In the past year, ClubCorp also has experimented with technology golf entertainment at several clubs with the Drive Zone, an innovative driving range experience with interactive games, food and drinks, TVs, putting greens and an outdoor lounge, as well as indoor golf, lounges and social hubs that feature golf simulators.

We are now diving deep into the golf entertainment sector. This past December, ClubCorp purchased a controlling interest in BigShots Golf, a cutting-edge golf and entertainment company, to broaden the future of golf entertainment and recreation among every age group and interest.

The technology offers activities for every level of player. Avid golfers can play full rounds on virtual golf courses or practice their swing complete with statistics that include ball speed, club speed, ball spin rate and more. Nongolfers, families and children can play a variety of captivating games such as knockout, pinball, islands and more with players hitting golf shots onto a fun, multi-colored range area.

The goal at our clubs is to always enhance the member experience. As the world raises the bar, so should we. BigShots Golf will enable us to provide another lifestyle amenity for our members as well as introduce more people to the game of golf—and convert many of those golf-loving fans watching on TV to golf-playing club members.

Tom Bennison is senior vice president of business development at ClubCorp, the largest owner and operator of private golf and country clubs. He serves as an NCA director. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit