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May 2022

Innovation by Golfzon Leadbetter

By Scott Kauffman

Golf simulators continue to capture the minds of golfers and course operators worldwide, and one of the more popular simulator spots at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show was Golfzon.

The Korean-owned king of golf simulators, with 34,000 simulators in operation at 7,300 sites worldwide, created plenty of traffic around its newest TwoVision indoor simulator. Among the highlights of this next-generation Golfzon simulator: 130 percent sharper graphics package, making the faux-course experience more enjoyable when selecting one of 200-plus championship courses available to play; and an innovative new 24-position moving swing plate that recreates realistic course contours or lies, not to mention five distinct hitting surfaces from fairways to greenside bunkers.

Equally as innovative to this new simulator launch, however, are the high-tech indoor golf facilities the company’s Golfzon Leadbetter business unit announced it will be opening this fall. The first location, featuring 20 simulator bays with an indoor driving range, will open in Little Ferry, New Jersey, according to Golfzon Leadbetter chief executive officer Benedict Riches, with a second New York City-area spot slated for the Long Island village of Westbury.

Between the power of Golfzon’s advanced simulator technology and golf lessons from disciples of iconic golf instructor David Leadbetter, Riches is eager to start growing an entirely new golf academy/destination category, if you will – a place where the golfing masses now can more cost-effectively learn the game in a highly-specialized training environment with the same “Leadbetter” teaching expertise that has guided some of the biggest names in amateur and professional golf over the last 40 years, including 26 major champions and seven former No. 1-ranked players.

“We’re on a mission to make it faster to learn golf,” Riches says. “Golfzon Leadbetter Academies will be the equivalent of a gym for golf – a dedicated place to train your golf swing so that you can have more fun and success when playing on the course.

“We’ve taught golfers of every ability all over the world but always at a golf course. Now we can take that same knowledge and use Golfzon’s technology to offer it in more convenient locations.

“This is the future of how the golf swing will be taught.”

After launching his Leadbetter Academy concept in 1983, the famed instructor grew his business into a global network of 40 Leadbetter Golf Academies in 15 countries. With 100 Leadbetter Instructors and growing, this network now delivers more than of  50,000 golf lessons per year.

With an eye towards his “brand legacy,” Leadbetter sold his global company to GolfzonNewdin Holdings in 2018.  Call this next chapter of the prolific author/teaching guru’s life Golfzon Leadbetter 2.0.

Riches, who is in his seventh year with the Leadbetter company, acknowledged the famous instructor’s name might not resonate as much with the next-gen golfer. Nevertheless, this Golfzon simulator facility business model is a $1 billion proven concept in Korea, where some 6,000 locations are now open.

“We certainly want to grow (Golfzon Leadbetter), but you’ve got to think there’s less and less people now entering the game maybe who have heard of David’s successes in the 1980s, ‘90s early 2000s,” Riches says. “Golf is changing, right? You have YouTube instructors with millions of followers. … But they’re not David Leadbetter.”

Indeed, they are not the person who literally wrote the book – and many more – on golf instruction.


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