Interview with Matt Ward
Golfzon is a bestselling, global golf simulator company. Named best golf simulator by Golf Digest in the publication’s annual Editor’s Choice Awards for five consecutive years from 2017 to 2021, Golfzon has a presence in 62 countries with 6,200 sites around the world and 65 million rounds of golf played on Golfzon simulators in 2020. Golfzon also hosts two professional virtual golf tournaments (GTOUR and WGTOUR) with a total prize purse of more than $2.7 million.
New for 2022, Golfzon launched the premium TwoVision Simulator at this past January’s PGA Show. The most advanced model the South Korean golf technology giant has ever produced, TwoVision sets the standard for high-end simulators worldwide.
Features and benefits include custom high-speed sensors that capture club head data and ball flight, a 24-way directional moving swing plate to recreate true stance and lie conditions, divot sensing technology for incredible performance feedback, 130% crisper graphics than previous generations and much more. Also introduced at the PGA Show was Golfzon Wave, the company’s first foray into the launch monitor market. The portable unit that works both indoors and outside is slated to be available to consumers this summer.
Under the guidance of Golfzon America CEO, Tommy Lim, the company is poised for exceptional growth as the trend of off-course golf continues to explode in the United States.
THE LIM STORY
After serving the marketing departments at Callaway Golf Korea and Nike Korea, Tommy Lim joined South Korean golf simulator giant Golfzon in 2010. By 2017, he was named Chief Executive Officer of Golfzon America, a role tasked with introducing the world’s preeminent golf simulator company to the U.S. market.
With more than 20 years of experience in the golf and sports industry, Lim’s combination of skills in executive leadership, brand development and integrated marketing have helped Golfzon’s substantial growth in North America and will be a key to its continued success.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
I am thrilled and so excited to see our business grow in the US. I was relocated here from Korea in 2016 to start Golfzon’s U.S. operation and make it a success. When I see our customers are happy with our products, it makes my day.
What was the genesis of GOLFZON?
Golfzon is a technology company, which started in Korea in 2000. Young Chan Kim, our Founder, worked for Samsung for 15 years before starting Golfzon. He was a big golfer and dreamed helping more people enjoy golf through technology.
How does GOLFZON differentiate itself from your competitors?
Many ways. Our accurate sensors ensure precise feedback, even in areas like short-game and putting that have traditionally been hard to recreate. Further, all Golfzon simulators are connected with the Golfzon cloud server, which stores customer data so users can play with others around the world regardless of time and place.
Our Hydraulic moving swing plate moves to replicate course lies, with the new TwoVision product offering 24 different variations. Beyond functionality, our simulators are so realistic that professional golf tournaments are conducted with Golfzon simulators in Korea.
The popularity of simulators has greatly increased over the last few years — most notably in South Korea. What do you attribute that to development?
One change has been the addition of gaming features, which are popular everywhere and especially in the Western hemisphere. The technology continues to get better and better, making the experience on simulator very similar to playing on a course.
Who is your customer and how do you identify them?
Our customers in the U.S. tend to either be golf clubs and resorts who are looking for fun ways for members and guests to improve and have fun during the off-season, or entrepreneurs operating off-course entertainment venues — bars, restaurants, driving ranges, etc. — who are able to increase their revenue by offering patrons the best simulator technology on the market.
We do also sell to individuals who want to install our simulators in their homes, but the primary customers are those interested in multi-bay solutions for their businesses.
Amazingly, there is a professional tour in South Korea that plays via GOLFZON simulators. How did that happen and is it likely for something of a comparable sort to take place in the USA?
After Golfzon launched Vision Premium, we knew that our Vision Premium sensors were so accurate that they could host professional events. I used to be the head of marketing and my team worked so hard with KPGA, KLPGA, and SBS Golf channel in Korea.
The idea took off and now the total purses are over $3 million. Regarding the U.S., yes, we certainly believe something similar could happen in this market.
How much of the GOLFZON involvement happens via facilities such as golf courses / clubs versus those purchased to be used for home usage by individuals. In which areas do you see the most growth happening in the years ahead?
It used to be 50:50 between facilities and individuals, but it changed recently, and I believe stand-alone facilities are where we’ll see the most growth moving forward. The sky is the limit.
Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at GOLFZON.
Customer service is ensuring our customers, as well as end-users — golfers — are completely satisfied with their experience using our products. It is the most important element of our business. Golfzon America has been enhancing customer service since its operation started, it is the key to make our business a success.
What is new for Golfzon in 2022?
We’ve got many things going on, including recently launching our new TwoVision simulator at the PGA Show. It is the most advanced simulator we’ve ever produced and will be our flagship product. We’re also getting into the personal launch monitor category with our Wave product, which will debut later this year.
Further, we’ve partnered with Troon Golf to expand our golf simulator entertainment facilities during the year.
What do you think about the rise in popularity of off-course golf and what does the future hold?
Facilities like Topgolf showed up that off-course golf can be big business in the U.S. So popular in fact that the National Golf Foundation estimates off-course golf now accounts for nearly half the golf played in the United States.
What Golfzon offers is a stress-free environment to enjoy golf, so weather you’re an avid player or complete beginner, you can be comfortable, improve your game and have lots of fun.
Best advice you ever received. What was it and who was it from?
The best advice I’ve ever received was from my chairman, “plan elaborately and work desperately.”
I think about this every day that I go into the office, and it motivates me to duplicate the success proven in overseas markets.
The biggest challenges facing GOLFZON — short and long term is what — and how do you plan on dealing with each?
Building the infrastructure here in the U.S. and making sure that we continue to find good partners. Additionally, ensuring that the new products we’re launching in 2022 – TwoVision and Wave – are differentiated in the marketplace and receive positive traction.
We also need to prove our commercial model. To that end, we’ve partnered with Troon to open three new facilities in 2022 and are excited to continue to expand our operations.