Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

42 EYEBROW (E.G. BLINDNESS) the hour, rather than by the bucket of balls. There is an adventure golf course. “We need to provide a fun and accessible route into playing golf,” says Macpherson. “Kids can play nine holes for five pounds, and there is no dress code. It is doing well. In the first eight weeks, there have been 50,000 people through the door, and two million balls hit on the range. Taking an 18-hole course down to nine holes meant there was room on the site to do other things – including an orchard, and a network of pathways so people can just walk round, even if they are not playing golf. All of a sudden, a golf course has become an education centre.” Will there be other such places? “If we make this work financially, then absolutely we will look to do more,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers told Today’s Golfer recently. “I don’t want to overstate things, but we’ve had 10 enquiries from around the world, saying, ‘Can we come and look at this because it might work in our country?’ And I find that exciting.” Macpherson says that, to make the course less scary for beginner golfers, he eliminated all blindness and crossing holes, but English architect Jonathan Davison says that he thinks that young people embrace things that are a little unusual and adventurous. “For me, I think more quirk is a good thing,” he says. “If everything is simple and in plain view then it lacks interest. That’s what attracted me to golf as a youngster: I enjoyed the mystery of the blind shots, and the challenge of hitting off odd slopes. But I do think clubs need a rethink, I think adding indoor simulators and Toptracer on driving ranges will appeal more to the young.” Davison’s mention of simulators echoes something that has a lot of traction around the world. All over, the use of technology to simulate ‘real’ golf is attracting attention from golf facilities, players and the media alike. Globally, without doubt, the biggest news in simulator golf has been the TGL indoor golf league, founded by Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and former NBC executive Mike McCarthy, featuring A-list investors including Serena and Venus Williams, basketball’s DESIGNING FOR THE YOUNG “ We need to provide a fun and accessible route into playing golf” Architect Jonathan Davison says indoor simulators and Toptracer technology have strong appeal among younger people