Magazine article Marketing

One to Watch: Urban Golf

Magazine article Marketing

One to Watch: Urban Golf

Article excerpt

This trendy brand has taken the stuffiness out of golf to bring the game to the masses, writes Gemma Charles.

One need only look at the sartorial sense of British golfer and world number 48 Ian Poulter - from Union Jack trousers to spiky hairdo - to see that this oncegenteel sport has changed somewhat since Arnold Palmer was at his peak.

No longer the sole preserve of the white middle-aged businessman, the golfing world is now dominated by a 29-year-old African-American - and Tiger Woods has without a doubt played a huge role in shedding the stuffy image of the game.

Capitalising on the sport's new image is Urban Golf. Situated in the media heartland of Soho, London, this golf centre could not be further away from the clubhouses of St Andrews in terms of image or dynamism. The minimalist-style basement property exudes urban chic; only the presence of six simulator golfing booths and a 270ft putting green serve as a reminder of its purpose.

The scene is completed by many seemingly bright young things hanging around, one of whom is Urban Golf founder 25-year-old James Day.

As a professional golf coach, Day came up with the idea for the centre after becoming aware that golfers living in London had to travel for at least an hour to 'hit balls'. He initially thought about developing a centre in the City primarily for lessons and practice, but Urban Golf is much more than that.

Central to its philosophy is the idea of golf for the masses. There is no handicap restriction or dress code, and customers simply pay the booth fees, which start at pounds 30 an hour. Players then set their own rules; they can choose the type of competition and the course. The aim, says Day, is to remove 'all the things people don't like about golf'.

Drinks and food can be ordered during play and when the game is over, there is a lounge area with a licensed bar where punters can watch sport on the plasma screens or engage their thumbs on a PlayStation console. Promoting team activities is an area Urban Golf is moving into, and leagues are in the pipeline.

Adding to the image is the exclusive staff clothing deal the company has struck with former Diesel designer Johan Lindeberg. As well as creating casual clothes, Lindeberg has turned his hand to golf attire, and his garments have become synonymous with the new wave of younger golf players. The staff gear and other J Lindeberg designs are available to buy from the centre.

But Urban Golf is not all style over substance. Lessons are available from PGA-trained coaches and the six state-of-the-art pounds 40,000 machines are, says Day, among the most technologically advanced in the world, and can meet the needs of the most experienced player. …

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