Tuesday

Golfzon Goes Global With Quest to Popularize Golf

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Young Chan Kim is clearly a patient man.

He started his company in 2000 with a long term vision that included the popularization of golf and the fostering of a inclusive culture built around the game.

More than a decade later Golfzon has become the biggest player in the international golf simulator market while remaining focused on its core mission, which is to make it possible for everyone to enjoy golf.

Mr. Kim's timing was spot-on.  His country had just weathered the Asian financial crisis, and a movement towards a reduction in working hours was underway.  In 2004 the government began implementing a five-day school and work week and many hard-working citizens discovered the joys of a two day weekend for the first time.  Meanwhile a young Korean golfer, Se Ri Pak, had become a global star and a symbol of national pride. As she won multiple major championships on the world stage she inspired an interest in golf that cut across all segments of the Korean population.

The dilemma at the time was that the game was too expensive and the courses too crowded to allow access for casual fans. That's the challenge that inspired Young Chan Kim to create Golfzon and introduce his country to new-concept golf culture, free from the time, space and cost restraints of the traditional game.  Golfzon's virtual reality screen golf was first launched in 2001, mainly for instructional purposes, but screen golf cafes soon followed and that was where Golfzon reached the mainstream, creating something of a cultural phenomenon.  ~ In Korea one can now enter Golfzon virtual-reality tournaments, with money, cars or a ticket to play in a real golf tournament as prizes. Thousands participate, and the final matches are televised.

There are currently over 5000 screen golf cafes in South Korea ...each cafe usually has two to five simulators... and Mr. Kim's company has supplied 65% of them. ~ Global expansion is underway, with a growing presence in Japan and China as well as in Europe... and Golfzon just entered into an agreement with Canadian company Live Golf Imports Inc. to bring their state-of-the-art simulators  to the North American Market. ~ 

It's not all about building the business however,  Golfzon culture takes its social responsibility very seriously as well, with initiatives that support the Korea's master craftsmen and regional community groups, as well as programs that foster young golf talents.

I think we'll be hearing quite a bit more about this dynamic company as it strives to create a global "Golfzon culture for the enjoyment of people of all age and gender".



Photo - top: golfzon.com
Photo - Se Ri Pak: Scott Halleran/Getty Images Sport