Greg Norman tinkers with The Shark Experience during a media event at The Breakers Palm Beach.  (Courtesy of Greg Norman Media ) Greg Norman uses The Shark Experience during a media day event on the Ocean course at The Breakers Palm Beach.   (Courtesy of Greg Norman Media) The home screen of The Shark Experience allows golfers to pick how they want to use the technology.  (Courtesy of Greg Norman Media  ) Greg Norman explains how The Shark Experience works to a member of the golf media.   (Courtesy of Greg Norman Media )

How Greg Norman plans to revolutionize golf

PALM BEACH, Fla. - Greg Norman has never shied away from pushing boundaries in golf and thinking outside the box.

His entrepreneurial spirit and business instincts have led to the launch of the "Shark Experience," a new golf technology platform Norman believes could revolutionize the game. Norman has partnered with Verizon, Club Car and GPSi (an industry leader in GPS technology) to turn every Club Car golf cart into a rolling entertainment hub of music, sports highlights, golf instruction videos by Norman and GPS capabilities. The Shark Experience is currently in pilot mode and will be previewed more extensively at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January. It will debut at select golf courses throughout America next year.

Striking the right deal for all the big partners has been four years in the making. Norman said he is investing "tens of millions of dollars" to outfit every Club Car cart — which has captured 50 percent of the cart market — with HD touchscreens and powerful speakers. Norman is hoping that the Shark Experience pulls golf into the 21st century and makes the game more attractive to millennials. Some purists might rebel against the concept, but Norman is okay with that.

"This isn't for everyone," he said at a media preview at The Breakers Palm Beach last week.

The Shark Experience tagline — Your Game. Your Way. — means golfers can use it as they please. Are you ready to rock out to Metallica or Tupac during your next round? You can crank up the volume on the tunes, watch live sports, listen to sports radio, only use it for yardages or leave the screen off entirely. It's your choice.

Norman emphasized that the Shark Experience is far from a finished product. Eventually, it could incorporate Shot Tracer technology and a hole-in-one experience. It's not hard to envision that live programming from popular TV channels or specific shows — along with product advertising — will eventually be incorporated.

"This is constantly evolving," he said.

It has already been tested in more than 3,000 rounds at three undisclosed courses. "The feedback has been incredible," Norman said.

A press release included testimonials from top golf officials who have previewed the product such as Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA TOUR, and Dana Garmany, the chairman and chief executive officer from Troon Golf.

"The Shark Experience cleverly brings to the golf experience what customers desire on and off the course," Jay Karen, the CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, said in the statement. "Success in this industry will be enjoyed by those courses which evolve with the customer, and I'm thrilled to see Greg Norman connect the dots between the vehicle, the screen and the content. It's a big step in the right direction."

Video: Taking the Shark Experience for a test drive

I was one of the members of the golf media who got a trial run while playing the Ocean course at The Breakers Palm Beach last week. As a music fan, I immediately dove into the diverse selection of songs available on Slacker Radio. Since I don't own portable golf speakers, it was great to finally jam my favorite tunes while playing golf. Golfers can also plug their phone into the cart, taking advantage of the Bluetooth connectivity and speakers to play their own set list.

Traditionalists shouldn't worry that music will overrun the peace and quiet on the course. The speakers were designed to keep most of the noise in the carts, almost like theater surround sound. Plus, course managers ultimately control the maximum volume allowed in every cart to keep things from getting out of hand.

The main screen does a nice job of showing sports scores and yardages to the hole, so golfers don't have to monkey with the settings too much for that information. With a touch of the screen, they can open up a view of the hole and get specific yardage to a bunker or over a water hazard.

I'm guessing the entertainment section won't get as much use as the music function unless slow play bogs down the course. At that time, players can tinker with the system, killing the down time between shots by watching a video or two, instead of disappearing into their phones. For the record, Norman indicated that pace of play has not been adversely affected during trial rounds according to data collected so far.

The entertainment section features a collection of sports video highlights, news, snippets from TV shows and content from Verizon's online network. I did catch a goal from a live soccer game on BeIN Sports, but not every big sporting event or game will be available just yet. BeIN Sports (international soccer), the Tennis Channel, Campus Insider (select live college football games and other college sports) and Air + Style (live extreme sports such as surfing and skiing) are currently the only outlets broadcasting live sports on the Shark Experience. Landing coveted NFL or college sports could be a big breakthrough getting golfers off the couch or out of the bars and onto the course during game day.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Shark Key, a cashless code on the Shark Experience that is supposed to make golfers feel like a "member for a day." Most purchases, like food and beverages on the course or in the clubhouse, can be made without digging for your wallet. Who pays for the Shark Experience will depend upon each course's policy. Some may include its use in the green free while others could require an additional up-charge.

"This is the first time we've integrated technology (and) connectivity to a golf cart for a golfer to enhance his or her experience on a golf course," Norman said.

Intrigued? What are your thoughts about the features of the Shark Experience? How much would you use it during your next round? Will it help make golf "cool" with the younger crowd? Could it attract new players to the game? Let us know by leaving your comments below.

Nov 01, 2017

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Jim R's avatar
Jim R wrote at 2017-11-17 19:51:05+00:00:

I find it hard to believe the music will stay in the cart. I hear people's music playing now when they use a small portable speaker, it is disturbing and annoying. As for GPS on the cart, although I have a rangefinder, having it in the cart is always a nice bonus.

Don Lekawa's avatar
Don Lekawa wrote at 2017-11-16 19:10:31+00:00:

Great idea. I already use a portable radio in my cart. Keep the sound within the cart and no one has complained

Larry C.'s avatar
Larry C. wrote at 2017-11-16 13:27:19+00:00:

Sounds like Norman. He always has thought he was the smartest person on the course.

The music won't be governed by the local marshals so there goes the quiet beauty of the game. And, there is no way under the sun that this doesn't slow the game down. You get 4 self-absorbed millennials with beer and football on television in their cart and it is now a 6 hour round instead of a 4 hour round.

Grow the game via the First Tee and investing in high school golf teams/scholarships and leave the freaking technology at Dave and Buster's and Top Golf.

This is an absolutely horrible idea.

george d's avatar
george d wrote at 2017-11-15 23:17:43+00:00:

already have I Phone, golf jams - GPS so- redundant though interesting for public courses

Jim's avatar
Jim wrote at 2017-11-15 23:09:34+00:00:

First of all, I'm a 55 year old conservative who has been golfing for over 40 years. I love the history of the game and consider myself a golf purist. With that being said, I think those who are bashing this venture couldn't be more wrong. The game needs to evolve, just as any business needs to evolve.

Many of you have stated that these younger crowds can just stay away from the game. Really?!? They are the game's future. Its lifeblood. I would be willing to bet that Justin, Jason, Ricky, Dustin and all of the great young golfers would back this 100%.

The world is changing every day. We can either join in and enjoy the ride, or we can become a dinosaur. For me, I prefer to embrace changes like these and see what's possible. The future of the game depends on it.

Van  S's avatar
Van S wrote at 2017-11-15 21:23:58+00:00:

A technology solution seeking a problem.

If you want that experience, go to Top Golf, not a golf course. I don’t get it.

William hayes's avatar
William hayes wrote at 2017-11-15 21:10:26+00:00:

Its bullshit this is golf not a damn carnival or freaking theme park

Bob Marshall's avatar
Bob Marshall wrote at 2017-11-15 21:09:28+00:00:

Just what we need - something to slow the game down even more than 20+ handicap golfers eyeing every putt like it's going to win them the Masters. Technology isn't why Millenials aren't taking up golf. Most 30 year olds with jobs and families don't have 4 or more hours to play golf on weekends, plus pay current green fees. How much is this going to add to the cost of a round of golf? Maybe Greg should ASK Millenials what it would take to get them interested in golf instead of guessing. Typical Baby Boomer who thinks he knows what's best (and I am in that cohort).

Ell's avatar
Ell wrote at 2017-11-15 21:36:50+00:00:

Rather than a round being 18 holes, make it 12 holes. Think of the money saved on maintenance, hours saved playing and might even lower the green fees.

Rick Elkin's avatar
Rick Elkin wrote at 2017-11-15 20:30:16+00:00:

Can we get the tracking ball to report distance to the flag? And show that on other cart screens? That would make for great group games like closest to the pin.

Seniorgolfer's avatar
Seniorgolfer wrote at 2017-11-15 20:28:07+00:00:

Yuk. Go away Greg and take your toys with you.

Warren W.'s avatar
Warren W. wrote at 2017-11-15 20:13:27+00:00:

Regardless of what is said about the video/audio etc., it's hard to imagine that the pace of play won't be affected negatively. Personally I think the feature that I find most interesting is the "ball finding" technology. I wonder if a golf ball having the tracking feature will travel as far as a premium ball without GPS tracking.

Steve's avatar
Steve wrote at 2017-11-15 20:04:41+00:00:

I go to play golf and enjoy the golf course and be outside. I view this as a distraction to take away from experiencing the golf course and playing the game.

Kevin 's avatar
Kevin wrote at 2017-11-15 19:45:34+00:00:

I prefer to walk.Definitely not for me,even when I ride.Better for the game to have trained caddies.Old school?

the great the grand the also ran's avatar
the great the grand the also ran wrote at 2017-11-15 19:06:02+00:00:

we will see how successful this will be.

anything that speeds up golf will be helpful. not sure that this does anything to increase pace of play.

players will get over the distraction of music very quickly. if this tracks where the ball goes has a much

greater chance for success. music alone adds very little to the fun factor.

Jalapeno's avatar
Jalapeno wrote at 2017-11-15 19:05:50+00:00:

This seems like the solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I wouldn't mind GPS in my cart but sports highlights, and music? No thanks. These are just a few more distractions for the Gonzo Golf crowd, that will only slow down the game further.

ernaldo's avatar
ernaldo wrote at 2017-11-15 19:00:29+00:00:

There is NOTHING wrong with the current game, and everything right. I have no interest in attracting a less civilized crowd with more loud bells and whistles. I became interested in my early teens, and there were no burning hoops, or fireworks then....I respect Norman, but golf isn't ailing, the economies may be.

John Lonza's avatar
John Lonza wrote at 2017-11-15 18:51:03+00:00:

This a great example of taking a Great

Sport and adding a lot of Fun! To the game!

To many Get to serious about the perfect score! Still could happen while listening to your greatest hits!

Get It!

Jim's avatar
Jim wrote at 2017-11-15 18:46:02+00:00:

How do I get one for my personal golf cart, and how much ?

Dave York's avatar
Dave York wrote at 2017-11-15 18:45:26+00:00:

Tell all those folks who want to play with their technology to stay away from the golf course.......or better yet........please stay away from the golf course that I am playing. I am trying to be respectful. Golf is a great game. The game and all the thoughts, challenges, decisions, mechanics and on and on is what I want to experience..........just GOLF. If you want an interactive experience..........go to an amusement park or the theatre or some other interactive event. Please.....pretty please......don't intrude on my golf game.

TimGavrich's avatar
TimGavrich Staff wrote at 2017-11-01 18:44:12+00:00:

I'm simultaneously apprehensive and excited to see this in action. In-cart GPS systems are pretty well established as part of the higher-end public and resort golf experience, at least on courses where carts are more or less always used. And the fact that the the speakers have been designed not to cast sound far from the cart is important to staving off on-course fisticuffs between Country- and R&B-fan groups.

That said, I've always thought golf's chief attraction has been as an escape from indoor life stuff - yes, even to us too-often-stereotyped Millennials. It will be interesting to see the extent to which people see this as a novelty, a nuisance or a legitimate game-changer.

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.