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April 1, 2013

A Wide Range of News

With April upon us and the season’s final programming decisions needing to be made, a reminder is in order about Bring Your Kids to the Range Month, happening July 1–31. This calendar item is a spur to any and all public-access practice facilities to put some energy into the family-visit category. Simple tactics are likely the most valuable. For example, last summer during BYKTTR Month, Parkland (Fla.) Golf & Country Club put out a rousing invitation to families via Facebook and the semi-private club’s newsletter. The golf staff backed that invitation up with a series of promotions. There were two entire weeks of free golf and range use for juniors – one of those segmented to junior girls only. Likewise there was free midweek clinic for all juniors and then a free Saturday clinic just for junior girls. In promotional efforts like these, the power of suggestion is there to be leveraged…. Seadrill Limited, a leading offshore deepwater drilling company, is giving new meaning to the phrase “island green.” For the purpose of entertainment and practice, the company is installing XGOLF Simulators, a technologically-advanced golf simulator, clubfitting and instructional system, for use on eight drillships. The ships will be positioned in various locations worldwide, including the United States, Norway, West Africa and elsewhere. XGOLF already has been installed on several of the drillships, with additional installations being scheduled…. To stick with the ocean theme, the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles — located on a small island of the same name north of Madagascar—recently put the Indian Ocean into service as the landing area for its driving range.

Mind you, the Seychelles isn’t somewhere that typically features on golfers’ radar screens. Its entire golf complement consists of one nine-holer on the mainland of Mahé. Positioning the destination’s oceanfront setting and its islands’ limited landmass as a selling point, the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles has launched a Sunset Golf experience that turns the surrounding ocean waters into a landing area…. If you’re the staff equipment buff at your facility, you may already know the popular blog site GolfWRX.com. Each week, the site takes you inside the ropes and on the range for that week’s PGA Tour stop—providing site visitors with a close-up look at exactly what clubs are in the bags of the world’s top players…. Wisconsin winters are not for the faint at heart, thus it was surprising to learn that Milwaukee’s first indoor golf practice facility just opened its doors earlier this year.

However, the facility may not be standing for long. Currently, the 6,000-square-foot facility known as Fore! Milwaukee is located in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and operated by PGA Professional Tim Grogan – golf instructor at the nearby Missing Links Golf Course and former head coach of the Marquette University men’s golf team. It includes a driving range with eight hitting bays, each within a netted area, and a putting green.

The facility also includes a retail department. Unfortunately, General Capital, the investment firm that owns the structure, plans to begin demolishing the building later this year to develop a sixstory apartment building for students at the nearby Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. Until then, Grogan plans to operate Fore Milwaukee at the downtown spot before finding another location. He wants to stay in or near the Third Ward, saying the facility is already drawing a lot of interest from golfers who live in the neighborhood… After 19 years, PGA Professional David Graf left his role as head professional at the prestigious Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, to take on a new venture last fall. Along with Jim McGurk, Graf is the co-owner of The Golf Performance Institute of Toledo, known as The Golf PIT. Taking over the former Maumee SportsMall Driving Range, Graf and McGurk remodeled, updated and made improvements to what was already one of the area’s best practice facilities with the goal of making The Golf PIT the area’s go-to spot for everything golf. The Golf PIT practice facility includes a 20-acre driving range with 52 hitting stations, 23 heated stalls, two indoor teaching bays, 200 yards of grass teeing area, a short game facility, putting green and executive golf course.