Walk-up music during the first tee of a round is becoming a thing in golf, even though it has been met with mixed reviews. It increased in popularity after pros danced, lip-synced and playfully head-banged to their favorite songs at the Zurich Classic last month.
Well, now New Mexicans can get their walk-up music fix and then some at Twin Warriors Golf Course in the Santa Ana Pueblo, where the club has unleashed a new fleet of 75 Club Car Tempo Connect Shark Experience golf carts.
The high-tech carts, which feature touchscreen monitors so golfers can listen to music, watch the latest in news and sports, or even a PGA Tour event, made their debut at Twin Warriors on May 4.
Derek Gutierrez, the Twin Warriors director of golf and general manager, and others at Twin Warriors have embraced the golf carts and the walk-up music trend. The preferred walk-up song for Gutierrez? “Where The Streets Have No Name,” by U2.
He’s hoping these new golf carts can have the same type of success as the famous Irish rock band. May 15, when the carts made their debut before local media, was a “Beautiful Day.”
“We like to say that we are (trendsetters) at Santa Ana (Golf Club, Inc.),” Gutierrez said. “With these carts, that holds true, definitely. We are the first to launch the Shark Experience golf carts in our market and one of the first of five in the country to roll this out. Thus far it has been well received.”
Gutierrez, along with Santa Ana Golf Club, Inc., chairman Jay Garcia and Twin Warriors head professional Zach Hoefel, toured the Club Car facility in Augusta, Ga., in November, when they also received the Shark Experience.
Club Car launched the Shark Experience golf carts, with Greg Norman as the face of the product, at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January.
Garcia is hoping the carts attract the younger generation of golfers.
“We were attracted to the entertainment value of the golf carts,” Garcia said after playing nine holes at Twin Warriors, while riding in a new cart. “Because of millennials are always digitally connected, this is another avenue of connectivity for the millennials who are not playing golf. They can stay connected to what’s going on. We decided to give it a shot.”
The volume of the music can be raised by using the touchscreen in the golf cart, but ultimately staff in the pro shop can lower the volume, Gutierrez said.
Garcia provided an estimate of $300,000 for the price of the fleet of new golf carts.
The carts also have GPS, computerized scoring and Bluetooth connections so golfers can listen to their music playlist on the speakers that point into the golf cart so it is less of a distraction.
Gutierrez knows the carts’ concept is not for everyone, but that’s OK.
“There’s the purist out there that wants peace and quiet,” Gutierrez said. “They want the traditional game. They don’t want the noise or the distraction. Those people, who have every right to continue to enjoy the game in that play and that fashion, don’t have to use (the Shark Experience options and features).”
The Shark Experience also features golf tips from Norman.
Club Car representatives Kevin Newton (sales manager) and Ryan McClellan (sales leader) attended the media day event last week.
The development of the Shark Experience has been in the works for over four years, Newton said, and Club Car plans to add more features in the near future.
“Golf needs that pipeline of golfers starting out young and playing through their older age,” Newton said. “Now the younger golfers can come out to play with their mom and dad. We’re hoping this will be a benefit.”
McClellan said his walk-up song would be the famous Rocky song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. But he knows this product will continue to rely on the Shark, Norman, the two-time British Open champion and World Golf Hall of Famer.
It’s fascinating that a 63-year-old golfer would want golf carts such as the ones at Twin Warriors to become a part of the game, McClellan admitted.
“He feels like the game of golf needed some technology,” McClellan said of Norman. “Golf needed some infusion of digital. He wants to put his name on something that drives the growth of the game. He’s always been about growing the game of golf.”
Norman told Club Car staff that out of all his accomplishments and business ventures, the Shark Experience is the one that he is most excited about, McClellan said.
“That says a lot about a guy that has won tournaments all over the world,” McClellan said.