On May 25th, So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Pernilla Lindberg and Lydia Ko came “together” to play a first-of-its-kind match on Golfzon indoor golf simulators. The catch? The two teams competed live, but worlds away. The team of Ryu-Park played at Zoimaru, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, while Ko-Lindberg played in St. Augustine, FL, at the World Golf Hall of Fame. The teams played two virtual matches at the famed Black Course at Bethpage State Park with the winning team of each match receiving a $5,000 donation for COVID-19 relief.
“This concept of Golfzon-LPGA Match Play challenge is an exciting new development for the long-term relationship between the LPGA and Golfzon,” said Sean Pyun, LPGA Chief Business Officer-Asia. “Through our partnership, we’ve witnessed firsthand the type of impact they have had in the Korean golf industry, from the standpoint of growing the game of golf in Korea.”
Golfzon LPGA Match Play Challenge Recap
Many likely thought the Korean team had an edge going into the Match Play Challenge. That’s because “screen golf” as it’s referred to in Korea is extremely popular in the country. In fact, the number of Golfzon locations (~6,000) outpaces the number of Starbucks by about 5-to-1. But team Ko-Lindberg had a strong showing in match one which was the foursome format also known as alternate shot.
It took both teams some time to get used to playing on simulator, particularly putting and short game. Once they hit their stride, Ko and Lindberg went one up after the nine holes. Lindberg stuck it close on the par three 6th hole for a give-me birdie to square the match and then Ko sunk a putt on nine to take the lead.
Team Ryu-Park made a comeback on the back nine winning back to back holes on 14 and 15 with the help of a clutch putt by Park on the 14th hole. But, Ko-Lindberg held strong as Ko made a birdie putt on the 18th hole to win 1 up.
“We’re happy we won the first match,” said Lindberg. “We’re still learning a lot. Still figuring out the putting and the short game that’s for sure.”
“There were definitely a lot of trial and errors as we had to get used to this new system,” said Park. “Competition heated up in the end.”
In the four-ball match, Ryu and Park took the reins. They dominated the front nine winning six holes to go four up. The charge started on the par four 2nd hole where Ryu nearly holed out her approach shot from the fairway. Ko and Lindberg had a few bright spots, particularly Lindberg’s sand save on the 7th hole but Ryu and Park were unstoppable. Ryu birded 18 to make it official, winning 5 & 4.
“We expected in this type of format for there to be a lot of birdies and there definitely were,” said Ko. “I’m sure for the people watching at home it was exciting.”
“We are thrilled to be able to donate half of our trophy money to society for a good cause,” said Ryu.
Golfzon’s Indoor Golf Gameplay Technology
Golfzon’s indoor simulators made this intercontinental match possible due to its advanced proprietary software. Golfzon employs an extensive engineering and software development group to make various types of gameplay fun and interactive. About 50 percent of Golfzon’s employees are Research and Development Engineers. Additionally, Golfzon holds more than 250 patents, with another 350+ patents pending. Implementing ball movement and the technology of 3D virtual golf are the unrivaled strengths of Golfzon.
The LPGA players utilized what’s called Network Play where events are played live across either a public or private (password required) network and is the best option for playing with friends (or fellow LPGA players!).
Another type of gameplay is ‘Battlezone’ which allows players to play on a team or individually vs. another team of the same number of players with the max number being four golfers. While this is currently only available in Korea, it will eventually make its way stateside.
In Battlezone you don’t necessarily have to play live but you play against the other team. So, say a team plays all 18 holes of their match but your friends can’t play until later in the day. The system saves all the data from the team that completed their round and then the competing team can play “against” them in real time. Or, if a professional plays a round you can play against them whenever you’d like.
The final type of gameplay in the Golfzon golf indoor simulator is known as ‘GLF’. This is an acronym for Golfzon Live Festival. This is like a free-for-all tournament and is the mode that’s currently available in the United States. GLF provides real-time rankings and can be played both publicly and privately. It’s used for all of Golfzon’s biggest tournaments with pros.
What the LPGA Players Had to Say About the Match Play Challenge and Golfzon Technology
LPGA players Ko and Lindberg gave the Match Play Challenge and simulator golf rave reviews. Lindberg said, “For us showing up and playing is easy, it seemed like for everyone around us that setting up all the camera equipment was the hard part…but if we could get it done again between different continents I would love to be part of it for sure.”
Her partner, Lydia Ko, echoed a similar sentiment saying, “It was such a cool experience and I’m sure a lot of other girls on tour would like to experience this too. It doesn’t happen often and I know it’s not an easy time difference between Korea and here, but the players got up and were ready for it and I think it ended up being the best possible outcome.”
When asked about Golfzon’s technology, Lindberg had this to say, “I still notice when I miss hit it. You can’t get away with miss hits. That’s for sure. In one way, it frees you up a little more on the tee, I mean you don’t really see the trouble out there.”
Ko said, “I can see how when you do get a [putting] rhythm you really kinda control it, it’s a lot of math and physics involved. But, if I feel like I pulled one, or thinned one it automatically shows so it’s accurate. But, it’s nice … it’s the closest to [golf] while not actually playing it.”
Why Golfzon is the Best Golf Simulator for Virtual Matches
As the Golfzon-LPGA Match Play Challenge demonstrated, if you’re looking to play a live match with friends or strangers when you’re not in the same physical location, there’s really only one choice for a golf simulator and that’s Golfzon. Whether you’re an LPGA player or an everyday golfer who enjoys a competitive round, the indoor simulator is perfect for tournaments, parties or just friendly matches to keep your skills sharp and the competitive juices flowing.