Date: September 08, 2016
Author: Dave Tease

Technology and talent impress Sports Minister

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It was an opportunity too good to pass up. A state-of-the-art golf simulator, a captive audience and some of the State's finest golfers on hand for plenty of 'expert' advice.

NSW Minister for Trade Tourism and Major Events, and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres MP, Member for Drummoyne Mr John Sidoti MP, and City of Canada Bay Mayor Cr Helen McCaffrey were among the first people to test out the soon to be completed training facility being built by Concord Golf Club.

The facility will provide players with video analysis of their swing in real time on the practice range and in an indoor simulator environment. A $45,000 grant from the NSW Government's Community Building Partnership Fund helped complete the project.

“This project is bringing hi-tech training resources to the inner-west, with community golfers and over 1000 active members benefitting from the facility,” the Minister said.

Local MP John Sidoti was impressed with the centre and praised the club. “The assistance will support the Club’s current junior development programs and competing golfers as part of the government's investment in the inner-west community," he said.

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On hand to explain the technology housed in the facility was the Concord GC Captain and Course Committee Chairman Ross Haron, board members, staff and a selection of the Club's and NSW's best golfers.

Recent winner of the NSW Girl's Championship and Concord Ladies Champion Belinda Ji showed how well she could play. After a bit of gentle encouragement, she managed to guide a shot to within a couple of feet of one of the simulator’s virtual holes.

"I'm very impressed," the Minister said.

Concord Golf Club has built an impressive development program over several years that has helped produce a US Amateur Champion in Nick Flanagan and a world amateur no.1 in Won Joon Lee. “'We have put a lot of effort into our junior program here,” Mr Haron said. "We believe it's a big part in the health of our club and the sport."

Golf NSW Men's team captain Travis Smyth tried hard to steal the show with his very first shot on the simulator, coming within inches of a virtual hole-in-one to the delight of the dignitaries watching.

Harrison Endycott, currently the 14th ranked male amateur golfer in the world, was quizzed by Mr Sidoti about the distances his shots went. "How far do you hit your six iron, Harrison?"

"173 meters," replied Endycott.

The politician, astonished that Endycott could be so precise with the distance then asked, "Not 170, not 175?" as Endycott rifled another golf ball into the simulator’s virtual sky.

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With the audience in awe of the technology and skill on display, it wasn't going to be long before the big artillery was pulled out. Mr Sidoti, quite an avid golfer, was pretty proud of his 245-metre effort with his Driver. After a bit of gentle ribbing about his parliamentary colleague’s effort, it was a bomb from Smyth that got them all talking. "301 metres, wow…,” gasped the Minister.

The simulator facility is part of a larger project at Concord that includes a $4.3 million redesign by famed American golf course architect, Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team. Mr Haron said the major upgrade would improve Concord GC for members and provide the club with a key point of difference in the Sydney golf marketplace.

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“It’s exciting,” Mr Haron said. “This upgrade to our club will offer new challenges for more experienced players and create options for the average golfer to drive growth in the sport and build Concord’s reputation as one of NSW’s finest places to play.”

Minister Ayres was thrilled to see the investment that many of the State's golf clubs were making in their courses and facilities. “The redevelopment of Concord Golf Club, along with similar projects at major courses in the Sydney area including The Australian and Royal Sydney Golf Clubs, is helping to cement Sydney’s reputation as a golfing tourism destination,

“We know golf is a massive drawcard to the state – the Australian Open attracts over 4,000 overnight visitors and approximately $3.2 million in visitor spend."

“NSW is committed to improving sporting facilities for domestic and international players alike, and this strategic upgrade of Concord will grow visitation to the course and put it fair and square on the map as the first ‘Doak’ designed course in NSW,” he said.