By Tony Webeck

IDEALLY, the new-look Albert Park Driving Range in the heart of Melbourne would have been ready to welcome the flood of new golfers enticed to the game during the Covid-infused explosion.

As it stands, when Albert Park’s 52 new TrackMan-enabled bays opened for business last week, it became a place that caters to passionate golfers, those freshly embarking on their golf journey and those looking for a social environment in which to give golf a try for the first time.

The opening of the driving range is simply phase one in what will be a staggered release of facilities designed to revolutionise the driving range offering. With so many extra facilities the business has also undergone a name change to Melbourne Golf Park to reflect the expansion of what is now available.

In the coming months there will be a rooftop bar, pizza restaurant and 36 holes of mini golf that will not only make Melbourne Golf Park a golf epicentre, but a social hub less than 10 minutes from the centre of the city.

“We’re already a very, very busy and popular driving range so we’ve done everything in our power to make sure that we don’t upset the people that were already coming to the range,” explained Melbourne Golf Park general manager David Tapping.

“You can come along and hit golf balls and have fun and interact as much, or as little, as you want with the technology that’s available to you.

“But we also now offer a really good social space for groups to come along, have a hit of golf, have some food and a drink socially with a great view.

“We’re going to expose that to more young people that perhaps would not realise that golf can be relaxed and fun.

“They’re going to see this digital upgrade and I’m sure they’re going to love it and interact with it.

“Thankfully, the industry has done a good job to keep these young people engaged.

“Hopefully this will inspire another boom for our facility where they now go back and say, ‘You’ve got to come and see this. This is next level.’”

Melbourne Golf Park will feature TrackMan technology.

At the foundation of Melbourne Golf Park’s makeover is the installation of TrackMan technology in each of the ultimately 62 bays that play out onto a range that measures 275 metres.

An increase on the 48 previously available, 42 of the bays are undercover with an interactive TrackMan screen within the bay. Twenty outdoor bays will make TrackMan data available through the TrackMan app.

It will allow users to play interactive games with friends or measure the distance and dispersion of any and every club in the bag.

A 17-year PGA professional, Tapping has nine PGA professionals on-site available for lessons.

With TrackMan data at their fingertips, golfers who use the range will see exactly where they need help with their game.

“Rather than a perceived idea of what they’re good at and what they’re not good at, we can now quantify it,” Tapping added.

“We’ve got a lot more accuracy in how we analyse someone’s game than we have had in the past.

“That’s a real positive for our coaches because we can set targets and start to see how they’re improving and making sure that they are improving.”

Eyeing a full launch in spring, it is the addition of the rooftop bar that Tapping believes has the greatest opportunity to transform how Melbourne Golf Park is received.

“The rooftop bar is a game-changer for us in terms of turning the venue into a place for groups to come,” said Tapping.

“A lot of the bays will have lounges where you can sit back and watch on the TV screen as your friends hit. Then you can head upstairs to the bar overlooking Albert Park Lake and toward the city skyline.

“It’s going to be a really cool place to hang out.” 

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