How indoor instruction is changing the game - PGA of Australia

How indoor instruction is changing the game

In his later years, Norman von Nida could tell you the flight of a golf ball simply by the sound that was made at impact. Peter Thomson would warm up for a round at Victoria Golf Club by hitting a half-dozen balls on the range to ascertain his shot shape that particular day.

Neither man could possibly have imagined that the future of golf instruction would be found indoors, hitting off mats into a simulated golf course.

The proliferation of indoor golf centres is growing at a rapid rate.

Some are designed as entertainment options with food and beverage, some are the modern equivalent of a golf club but with hundreds of courses to choose from while others have a primary focus on game improvement.

Established in 2021 by PGA Professional Adrian Lawson, Golf24 now has centres in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne and is helping golfers to lower their handicaps at a rapid rate.

“I’ve seen people halve their handicaps in no time, where they may well have beat their head against the wall forever,” says Lawson, General Manager of Golf24 Australia.

“I’ve got some people that have fully transitioned to the point where all the golf they play is now indoors.

“We run Australia’s largest tournament golf network on Trackman and provide our members with a vast range of tournaments to play in.

“They’re getting their golf competition and they’re doing it at time convenient to them and at a cost that suits them.”

Integral to maximising the experience of each golfer at each centre is the onboarding process delivered by PGA Professionals at each Golf24 location.

After a basic introduction to the facility, members are given a crash-course in Trackman and how to best interpret the data.

With members enjoying access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Lawson says that this understanding is crucial in working on the right things in the swing.

“They’re getting accurate data feedback, which they get nowhere else,” Lawson explains.

“They get an understanding of what face-to-path relationships are to the ball direction and its spin. Getting more of an understanding of what dictates the ball going left or right in a controlled environment.

“We have video cameras in every bay so even while you’re playing virtual golf, when you hit a bad shot, you can look up and see why.

“You learn how it feels to hit the different shots and feels become real.

“That kind of data and that kind of learning of the swing, learning how to play better in a controlled environment, that’s why people are improving so much.”

With further Golf24 centres planned for Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra and Sydney, Lawson is looking for new and innovative ways in which to bring the simulator experience to more and more golfers, including potential partnerships with green-grass facilities that will enable golfers to take their improved swings directly onto the golf course.

Yet as far as technology advances in the years to come, Lawson is adamant that nothing will replace the sensation of a golf club onto the back of a ball.

“Golf’s one of the few sports where you need to be hitting the ball itself with a real club,” Lawson adds.

“If you’ve played the Oculus or whatever, waving that wand like a Nintendo, do that for a week and then try and hit a golf ball afterwards. It’s impossible.

“That’s the great thing about golf. You can’t do it with a pretend club.

“In time we might move into a holographic environment but you will still be hitting a golf ball with a golf club.”

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