On a recent Unicycle Creative business trip to Toronto, I joined some industry colleagues for a round of golf. Sort of. As we were all pressed for time, we elected to try Inner Golf, a golf simulator located in the warehouses of the King West Village area.
Designed for the dedicated golfer who wants to keep the game in shape without missing too much work, Inner Golf offers a unique and interesting experience. (Here’s a review from a real golfer if you’re interested) But I wonder if they haven’t missed the boat on their branding and target a little. More on that later. First, to the tee…
You stand on a plastic grass mat, facing a large screen, which features one of a number of world-famous courses. In our case, Pebble Beach. You line up and give it your best whack – real club, real ball – all the satisfaction of a good, solid hit, if that’s your thing. (I’m more of a random slicer, and the simulator let me play my usual game parallel with the fairway in the rough and trees to the right)
The real ball bounces back gently from the screen, as a ball image appears in the air, arcing, bouncing and landing just like on TV. You can even get a nice crisp bounce off the trees. (A sound I sampled more than once) There are a lot of buttons and features for boys to play with, such as course flyovers and ‘advice’ from the velvet-voiced golf announcer.
Naturally, they are licensed to serve beer, which you enjoy from a comfy couch as you heckle your friends. All in all, it’s a fun experience. Especially when you consider the carbon footprint of your average golf course. (According to Blue Planet Run, based on the average water use of US golf courses, approximately 3,350 gallons of water is used to water the grass for every round of golf) Inner Golf has a lot to offer the eco-conscious golfer, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron.
What’s more, as a dedicated hacker, I don’t benefit so much from all the technology used to analyze my swing or read the break on the digital greens. I’d much rather amp up the social experience of the game. For instance, the ‘advice’ button generated little more than generic comments on the lie and the shot. I’d like to see a setting there that would generate random abuse comments whenever shots were duffed. Better yet if they came from a golf celebrity. Or Bill Murray. Now that would be fun.
So overall, why not market Inner Golf to the green community? At the very least they would get a lot of trial. Combine that with some more off-the-wall party experience enhancers and they could take their target market a lot further than the core golf niche.
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