Wednesday 4th April 2018
New Directions in Vietnam
After receiving an invitation to be part of the line up at the 2017 Asia Pacific Golf Summit (APGS), it wasn’t a difficult decision to leave behind the sub-zero temperatures in Riga and travel to sunny Da Nang in Vietnam.
The theme of this year’s summit was New Directions and Technology, so it was the perfect opportunity to speak about our work with virtual reality (VR) and the exciting possibilities for the golf industry.
VR isn’t easy to describe; it’s something that needs to be experienced. So, I brought a headset with me to give attendees the chance. I wasn’t short of volunteers!
The summit kicked off in true Vietnamese style with dancing dragons, drums and a speech by Chairman of the BRG Group Madame Nga. Just a week before she had hosted a gala dinner as part of the APEC Forum, for the leaders of 21 nations, including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
Among the highlights of the event was the keynote speech by Bob Parsons of GoDaddy fame, but most recently the man behind PXG golf clubs. He started off by telling us about the last time he was in Vietnam, as a 19-year-old boy in the US army, and it only got more interesting. As it happens we created some animations for Bob’s course, Scottsdale National, in 2015, so it was nice to finally meet him in person.
It’s impossible to ignore the impact Topgolf is having on the industry, and it was fascinating to hear from Zach Shor, the Chief Operating Officer. In particular, about the reaction of golf clubs in the vicinity of a new Topgolf facility. They fear it will tempt players away from them, but what actually happens is quite the opposite. People who have never considered playing the game before visit Topgolf, have a great time, decide they want to play on a real course and visit one of the local clubs.
I also enjoyed the Town Hall Debate with Paul Stringer of Nicklaus, Ryan Clifton of EDSA, and Scott Lee of SB Architects, giving insights into some of their most interesting projects.
It would be a crime if I didn’t include Gregg Patterson, the conference host, as one of the highlights. This was the first time I’d met Gregg in person and I can confirm he is as exuberant off stage as he is on it. One of the most insightful parts of the conference were the impromptu Q&A sessions between Greg and each speaker at the end of their respective presentations.
The awards ceremony was as glamorous as we have come to expect from Mike Sebastian and his team. My only disappointment was that we didn’t win ‘Golf Course Animation of the Year’, but that might be because there’s currently no such category. Maybe next year in Bangkok!
If you couldn’t make it to the summit in Da Nang and you are interested to hear about VR in the golf industry, here is a recording of my presentation: