Coastal Indoor Golf in Florida embraces the full range of opportunities the TrackMan Indoor Golf system has to offer by hosting the first indoor golf tournament between two TrackMan-only facilities 1,000 miles apart from each other.
On a Sunday afternoon, Brian Sherrill welcomes 12 visitors to his facility Coastal Indoor Golf in Florida to warm up for their upcoming tournament.
At the same time, the opposing side is warming up in an indoor golf facility over 1,000 miles away in Texas. Brian partnered up with 1611 Indoor Golf Club in Fort Worth, TX, to carry out the first TrackMan powered indoor golf tournament. In each facility, three foursomes played the front nine holes at Sebonack cheered on by spectators on-site and online, as the full event was also broadcasted live on Facebook and Instagram. In the end, the trophy went to the players in Florida, but the event was a win-win for both facilities.
“Next thing I know, we are a year in, we added another simulator and it’s been awesome!”
Becoming the owner of a TrackMan Indoor Golf facility hosting live indoor tournaments was most likely not on Brian’s agenda when he graduated as a class A PGA Professional from Campbell University. Working as a teaching professional at Rock Barn Country Club & Spa in North Carolina for four years, it was his wife’s career prospects that made Brian move down to Florida and seize the opportunity to open up Coastal Indoor Golf at Jacksonville Beach, FL.
Going down the path of self-employment, Brian saw a key determinant of success in investing in industry-leading equipment, thus he was convinced TrackMan is the right technology for his business right from the beginning: “I knew what TrackMan brought to the table in terms of accuracy and I love the product as a whole. What TrackMan has done for golf is huge.”
After investing into his first TrackMan 4, Brian took just over half a year to make himself familiar with the product, its functions and the data parameters while earning his TrackMan University certification level 2.
When he found the right location, Coastal Indoor Golf opened with two simulator bays, so Brian could give teaching lessons or do fittings, while the second bay was free to play courses.
After less than a year the facility was extended featuring another, third TrackMan Indoor Golf setup.
“Indoor golfing is only going to grow and because of what TrackMan has been able to do accuracy wise, it is the closest thing to real golf that you can get.”
Just like the National Golf Foundation reports a strong growth of the off-course segment, Brian promotes the advantages of indoor vs. outdoor golf: “Time has been golf’s biggest enemy. I have people coming in for only 30 minutes because with the accurate information they get, there is no need to spend an hour and a half at the driving range trying to figure it out.”
Not only can Brian offer his customers faster progress, but also a multitude of different courses to play without waiting times and in a much more private setup for those players keeping their bad shots to themselves rather than being exposed to the eyes of everyone at a driving range. With one fully enclosed simulator bay, Coastal Indoor Golf certainly addresses the common concerns of beginners lifting some of the pressure off their shoulders and making them feel more comfortable.
Although the average handicap of the facility’s regulars is on the low side, Brian does not shy away from introducing golf newbies to the TrackMan. For him the key is simplifying it as much as possible and adapting to the individual player’s learning style: “You can select what you see. So, since you don’t want to confuse beginners, you try to get them to understand the basics: face angle and club path. People are still learning so much faster.”
For the better players, the versatility of the TrackMan Performance Studio, offers a large variety of practice sessions tailored to the player’s needs. With the On Course Practice feature, Brian can specifically work with his customers on shots they are struggling with by visualizing the situation as it would occur on the course and getting the player in the headspace of actually hitting that nemesis shot.
He likes to follow up with a Dynamic Report after a session to reconnect with his visitors and to add more value to their practice time: “People get really into it, even when they receive their report at work.”
“People love to compete against other players. With TrackMan, you have tons of options to offer your clients the competition they seek.”
While TrackMan has traditionally been viewed as a training tool, Brian has managed to use the technology to foster a deliberate sense community and competition at his facility. In addition to working on their game, golfers can compete, relax, socialize, and enjoy a sense of comradarie (which is a huge part of the game)! “TrackMan is already a great way to improve your game,” he says. “But I wanted to take my business to the next level by deliberately creating a sense of place and a sense of community. The social aspect is a big part of what makes us successful. It’s why we have great sitting areas where groups can hang out and relax. People want more than just a game. They’re looking to be part of something bigger, which we provide. And adding tournaments is the next step in that progression.”
With the nine-hole tournament against 1611 Indoor Golf Club, Brian offers his customers something that they can otherwise only enjoy at national tournaments. He expands the radius of competitors and triggers some state pride and friendly competition between the two competing facilities. By catering food and broadcasting the event live on social media, everyone involved, from players to on-site and online spectators, felt not only connected, but well entertained as well.
Coastal Indoor Golf also offers a flex-league allowing players to compete when it fits their schedule. From closest to the pin, the longest drive, the fewest putts the fastest club speed and of course the best combine score, everything can be found on the leaderboard in the facility. With the versatility of the TrackMan, Brian also puts his radar to work outdoors together with the TrackMan Event Module for long drive, scramble and charity events. He enjoys offering the technology to players that simply don’t have the resources to practice on a TrackMan and it helps creating awareness for his indoor center.
“You are making a mistake with not going with TrackMan. you are neither getting the accuracy, nor the customer service. And when your own business is on the line, that means a lot.”
When Brian started his business in May 2017, he wasn’t faced with a lot of competition from other TrackMan-only facilities, even though he sees the strong brand as a great advantage over other simulator centers. “It all comes from Broadcasting”, Brian says, estimating 75 percent of his customers recognizing the brand when they first walk through his door. Knowing of the quality of his product and the data it provides, Brian experiences appreciation for the added value rather than reluctance to pay the hourly rates.
The continuous development of the TrackMan 4, also allows Brian to surprise his customers, with latest releases such as Impact Location, On Course Practice, and the most realistic course graphics on the market: “It’s very rare that you have a product that you are able to not change in a long time, like the TM4 and still add value to it.”
Coastal Indoor Golf has been going so well, that Brian decided to add a third TrackMan Simulator after only eleven months.
Experiencing the smooth process from planning to installation with the first two setups, the decision was an easy one to make: “TrackMan’s customer support is super helpful, has the technical expertise and a very dutiful work ethic. They sent someone down to set everything up the right way, and to make sure I was happy with it.”
The peace of mind with respect to the installation, as well as the maintenance of the setup, lets him focus on his business: “I am always trying to learn and get better by searching for that new little niche of what people want and how they want it.”
The live tournament against 1611 Indoor Golf Club certainly qualifies as his “new little niche”. It offers people the community, the fun, and the competition they crave—in cool, indoor comfort. The close outcome of the match made for great entertainment and some of the participants have never been to Coastal Indoor Golf before, but returned within the following week after the event. With the entire buzz about his business, and the numerous inquiries about a potential next tournament, this certainly won’t be the last live tournament Brian hosted.
Right now, he is just giving the Texan team some time to digest their defeat, but he also has great aspiration for this concept to grow:
“We’re just getting started with live events,” says Brian. “It’s a great way to expand the community but to have fun with other competitors. We’re delivering on an experience that people are looking for to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves. There are so many facilities out there, and considering how much TrackMan is growing, this could be something that we do on a monthly, or even weekly basis.”