Craig Brogan from BroSports has been in the golf business in Vietnam since 2005. He explains why it’s high time for golf to focus on truly entertaining its fans. 

By Craig Brogan – “Brogolfer”

It’s been a tough time for most since the calendar ticked over into the ’20s; social life stopped, and golf was no exception. So, it’s time to get things going again! 

Golf is one of the toughest sports around, pitting players against themselves and the course itself. The golf industry has long been steeped in tradition, with no shortage of rules involved. So many rules, in fact, that it can be easy to forget that players are supposed to be having fun while attempting to hit a good score. This is why it’s often said that the game is 20% physical and 80% mental.

In my opinion, it’s time for golf to change things up a bit. Sure, we need to keep the rules, but also make it fun again. Most golfers will agree that a day on the course is an enjoyable time with friends or colleagues, complete with fresh air and the great outdoors. 

I was lucky to grow up in Sydney, Australia, where, at the age of 14, I started playing golf at my local golf course – Beverley Park in Kogarah. I borrowed my grandfather’s clubs and played with my mates. On game days, I used to tie the handle of my golf buggy underneath the seat of my BMX bike and ride to school with the clubs towing along behind me. It wasn’t expensive, and it’s what started my passion for golf. I’ve spoken to other golfers from overseas, who used to grab their dads’ old 5-irons and cut down the shafts to whack golf balls in the backyard. It was all about the fun first, then the competition and the thrill of winning.

Keen golfers have surely noticed recent developments on the world stage with a rivalry between the PGA Tour—the establishment that has had strong control over most of the international professional golf events since 1968—and an upstart league that launched in mid-2022 known as LIV; currently led by Australian entrepreneur and retired pro-golfer, Greg Norman. This is an old feud. The bitter rivalry between Norman and the PGA Tour has been well-documented; now, it seems, he has his chance to get even and possibly turn the tables on them. What Norman is doing is quite simple. He’s disrupting the sport with new ideas and throwing heaps of cash around to entice the players over to his new-look league. In the process, he’s highlighting a lot of the shortcomings that have stifled the professional golf tour and event scene for too long. 

Fans and players want more fun, and so more fun they will get. LIV is promoting a simpler format, allowing better viewing times (currently showing free-to-air on YouTube for all), and including a team concept that adds variety for scoring. Each event so far has had a party atmosphere with music and live dancers—more akin to a nightclub than a traditional golf tournament. Yet, many of the big-name players are embracing the changes, with new guys signing over to the LIV league every week. 

All of these changes foreshadow a new movement in golfing culture that the sport has long needed. And like it or not, the traditionalists have to admit that the new wave has achieved more traction than anybody expected.

So how does this relate to golf in Vietnam? 

With four Greg Norman-designed courses across the country, all of this new publicity will help to shine the spotlight on Vietnam. Norman started off designing Danang Golf Club more than 12 years ago. Then, he set his sights on The Bluffs in Ho Tram, KN Links in Cam Ranh, and most recently, he completed the PGA Novaworld Phan Thiet. It’s a 36-hole project with an ocean and a garden course, both signature designs by Greg Norman. My company, BroSports, held a Ryder Cup-style matchplay weekend there a few months ago. The course has a spectacular layout with excellent staff and facilities.

Similarly to what’s happening in the professional ranks, we’re noticing a focus shift in amateur events at corporate and social golf levels. The days of boring individual stroke play events are waning. Scramble team golf is gaining in popularity with the message that “the more fun golfers can have on and off the course, the better”!  

Team selections, different rules, music playing through Bluetooth speakers in players’ carts, beers in cooler bags, and promo girls at the drinks huts on the courses are all part of the way forward. 

Golf needs to grow out of the boring, super serious attitude it’s had for so long. It should be less about handicaps and more about hilarious. 

There are numerous golf development projects in Vietnam and across the Southeast Asian region in the works, with big-name golfers putting their brand to course designs across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. One great thing about Asia is that it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to fly around the region. We regularly put together tours to all these locations, and the combination of great golf and nightlife makes it an exciting way to get the best of both worlds.

Golf is a classic sport for team building. Yet, it doesn’t always have to be about playing 18-holes at the golf club. For example, a game can start with a simple setup of mini-golf at the local soccer field. Mobile set-ups are also popular with games being played on rooftops, in office buildings, lobbies and ballrooms at hotels. Beach golf and street golf are other new ways to enjoy the game minus the expense of all the proper equipment and golf course fees. Players can have heaps of fun getting the feeling of whacking a ball around without the pressure of serious golf rules (yes, we use foam golf balls indoors). 

Those who get a taste for the sport and want to take the next step towards a serious game, can then head to the driving range for swing coaching, and eventually, progress to full course play. Corporate and social amateur golfers who already understand the game are keen to play more often while celebrating networking with colleagues and clients. 

At BroSports, we have numerous locations, various concepts, playing formats and scoring systems to mix things up and to let everybody enjoy the game. Join us for golf with your mates, we have all the gear and great ideas on how to make golf fun again.  

Craig Brogan +84909273997

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