Fairfax County-based Golfzon America tees up innovative golf simulator
Imagine playing a round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Course in California, then at St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland, followed by another at one of 200 other golf courses across the world in a foursome with the other players located in different places, all virtually, from your home. You can do just that with a Golfzon golf simulator. With its North American headquarters located in Fairfax County, Golfzon is a South Korea-based global golf simulator company with a presence in 63 countries with 12,300 sites around the world, including two in Antarctica. Over 87 million rounds of golf are played on Golfzon simulators annually by 4.4 million worldwide online Golfzon members.
Fairfax County Economic Development Authority sat down with John O’Malley, Chief Revenue Officer, Golfzon America, at the company’s Chantilly headquarters to take a swing at finding out more about the company.
Founded in South Korea in 2000, Golfzon set up shop in the U.S. in 2017 and moved its North American headquarters to Fairfax County in 2021.
“We came to Fairfax County for a number of reasons,” O’Malley said. “Fairfax County has had a long history of supporting tech companies. It’s been a hub for tech companies for as long as I can remember, and rightfully so. There’s access to resources like the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to help entrepreneurs and companies start and grow their businesses. There’s access to capital and to commercial real estate. There’s a rich talent pool to bring in employees and there’s a good demographic for the products we sell.”
“Golfzon America’s CEO Tommy Lim looked at a couple of different cities when he first came over to start the business here,” O’Malley added. “He visited Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Dallas, but settled in this area. It’s a great place to raise your family, with good schools and great state universities. There’s quick access to Washington, D.C., and to multiple airports. It’s hard to beat all that.”
Golfzon serves both commercial and residential markets, with over 12,300 indoor golf center locations, worldwide, both private and franchised. In the U.S., Golfzon currently has over 120 commercial facilities, including in golf clubs and resorts, academy and driving ranges, and sports bars and lounges. In addition, hundreds of residential customers have installed Golfzon simulators in their homes, typically in their basement or garage.
Currently, there are more than 200 virtual golf courses in the Golfzon library, with more to come. Asked about well-known golf courses, O’Malley responded: “We have St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Kiawah Island Ocean Course, and many more, worldwide, We normally map 20 courses a year,” he said. “Our focus is to bring in the primary courses, the ones that are well-known and attractive. That’s certainly a priority for us.”
And mapping these courses is not an easy feat.
“We use drones, we do terrestrial photography, we do walk-arounds. We can use satellite data. It is very precise. If there’s a divot on the fairway, we’ll catch the divot on the fairway and you’ll see it in our simulators,” O’Malley explained.
Golfzon offers the most technologically advanced golf simulators in the world, protected by over 250 patents, according to the company. With true-to-life course contours and real-time simulated ball flight data, Golfzon’s state-of-the-art hardware aims to bring golfers right onto the course.
Golfzon’s innovative technology includes, according to the company:
- Moving Swing Plate: A multi-directional hydraulic swing plate with up to 15 degrees of vertical movement adjusts to any lie – uphill, downhill and sidehill
- High-speed camera sensors: ceiling and kiosk-mounted cameras deliver hyper-accurate flight modeling with the lowest latency time on the market
- Ball retrieval system: enables golfers to save time and never pick up a ball again
- Auto Tee: Set your tee height and never have to bend down to tee up your next shot
- Multi-surface hitting mats: 5 hitting surfaces include fairway, two levels of rough, and both fairway and greenside bunker textures replicate a true-to-lie simulation of different hitting conditions
- Vision: Golfzon’s Vision software virtually transports golfers to over 200 golf courses around the world through high-definition graphics combined with the moving swing plate’s variable ground settings
- Golfzon Driving Range Plus: GDR Plus Golfzon’s GDR Plus+ software helps golfers focus on the technical aspect of their swing by providing performance data like ball flight, swing capture, posture adjustment, and clubhead speed
“It is the most sophisticated golf simulator worldwide,” O’Malley said. “We have high-speed sensors that detect the club data and ball flight data and we use that to replicate the shots on the system. Those sensors are very low latency, undetectable to the naked eye. so when you’re playing, it’s a real feel. You hit the ball, look up, and you immediately see the flight of the ball, whether it’s good or bad, just as you would if you were out playing on the course. The same is true for putting.”
“We have a hydraulic swing plate that can move in 24 directions. It’s also articulated so it bends at different angles, to replicate your stance, and your ball position. If you have an uphill, sidehill or a downhill lie, you’ll have that on this simulation,” O’Malley continued.
“And that goes back to our robust mapping of our courses. So we’ll do aerial shots. We’ll do terrestrial shots to capture the imagery, to capture the courses, and then we’ll simulate them. But when you step up and play, you’ll have a real feel,” O’Malley added. “And I think that’s really what’s one of the distinguishing factors. It’s an experience of feeling real golf. Any golfer will tell you it’s all about feel.”
With Golfzon simulators, golfers of all abilities can compete with their friends and colleagues – and with players around the world. This can be for fun or for competitive tournament play. “Over 350 tournaments a day are played on our systems, ” O’Malley said. Golfzon has been hosting simulation golf tours for Korean professional golfers, on the GTOUR and WGTOUR, for years, with tournament purses upwards of $3 million.
In North America, Golfzon hosts 4-5 tournaments a year where participants can compete for prize money from any Golfzon-equipped facility or from their home. Two thousand rounds of golf are played over these events, according to O’Malley. Golfzon’s awards and accolades include “Best Golf Simulator” by Golf Digest Editor’s Choice Awards in the luxury category for five years running from 2017 through 2021. Golfzon’s TwoVision system won Golf Inc. magazine’s Golf Tech Award in 2022, as “one of the 10 Most Exciting and Innovative Product Offerings,” –the only golf simulator to do that.
Ready to take a swing? Find out more by visiting https://Golfzongolf.com.