GOLFPASS Launches Behind NBC Sports and Rory McIIroy

Get to the heart of your game with GOLFPASS, a vibrant community surrounding the great game of golf.  NBC Sports Group and pro golfer Rory McIIroy set out to do just that thorough the launch of GOLFPASS, a new digital subscription aiming to reach all the devices golfers and golf fans use with original content, benefits, insights and industry trends of your favorite sport. Much like the Golf Channel was founded by Arnold Palmer almost 25 years ago, GOLFPASS wants to impact the sport, elevate your game and showcase a lifestyle shared by millions around the world while enabling a living legacy for founder McIIroy. The Sports Techie community blog was honored to be included in the media conference call today with McIlroy, Mike McCarley, president and Will McIntosh, executive vice president of strategy for Golf, NBC Sports, as they provided an introduction to GOLFPASS, a modern, digital golf membership. The cost is $9.99 a month or $99 per year, the yearly pricing includes a savings of 20% and a free dozen golf balls from TaylorMade. THE Sports Techie Q&A with the panel is near the bottom of the story. Play, Learn, Watch, Travel and Shop at GOLFPASS.

GOLFPASS with Rory McIlroy Season: 2019 — Pictured: Rory McIlroy — (Photo by: Cy Cyr/Golf Channel)

Rory McIlroy Shares Pro Tips on GOLFPASS

UPGRADE TO GOLFPASS

What is GOLFPASS? McIIroy said today, “It’s taking The Golf Channel that was founded 25 years ago by Arnold and bringing it into the 21st century.”

McCarley added, “In that 25 years since Mr. Palmer launched the network, we’ve really built a business based on the lifestyle of golf, because if you think about it, everyone’s favorite golfer, when they’re honest, is actually themselves.

“So we’re building a business that connects golfers to the game, connects golfers to their passion. So what we’re announcing today is a direct-to-consumer membership called GolfPass that’s really got five distinct connections to the game of golf,” stated McCarley.

He added, “One is play, that’s based on GolfNow, which is really something that’s like an Open Table for golf where we have tee times at 7,000 different golf courses in 26 countries around the world.

The second is learn, which is really video-based instruction. We’ve got 4,000 video lessons and tips at launch on GolfPass today from some of the top coaches from around the world and some of the biggest names in the game.

Third is shop, which we have a lot of partners. TaylorMade is a significant launch partner. If you sign up for an annual pass, you get a free dozen TaylorMade golf balls, and you also get discounts across TaylorMade products.

The fourth is travel, which we’ve launched through our business of Golf Advisor. It’s like a Yelp or a Trip Advisor that’s a ratings and review service for golf courses all around the world. We’ve got nearly a million reviews and a lot of travel-related information geared towards a golfer who would like to plan a golf trip.

And lastly is watch, which a lot of content that’s original to GolfPass, including some that Rory has been working on with us for some time, and then also some of the content that a lot of you, you know and have come to appreciate from The Golf Channel archives,” said McCarley.

Two years in the making, NBC Sports Group approached McIIroy about a year ago joining together to make it so. Rory is a 29-year old lifer. What I mean by that is he will be around golf his whole life. Rory loved golf as an amateur playing kid, plays professionally as an adult, and when he finally retires from play, look for him to stay close to the game through GOLFPASS.

GOLFPASS Promo: Watch Here 

“GOLFPASS is designed to make golf more accessible and fun using NBC Sports’ portfolio of golf tech and services that help better correct golfers to the sport. Whether it’s video instruction from the best coaches in the world or enhancing the golf experience on and off the course, GOLFPASS adds tremendous value for golfers,” said McCarley. “Rory is the perfect partner for GOLFPASS, not only because he’s an approachable, genuine and global ambassador for golf – much in the same way Mr. Palmer was – he’s also eager to modernize how golfers engage with the sport in their daily lives, whether watching a screen or with a club in their hand.”

GOLFPASS offers behind the scenes looks, player data, original series featuring top professionals and much more fan-friendly programming. The archived footage of past Ryder Cups and The Open Championship is priceless.

The Golf Channel has a built in fanbase in which GOLFPASS can from grow from. The 24/7, 365 network reaches 500 million viewers in 70 different countries and nine languages worldwide. They also program 23 weekends of golf a year on NBC.

“Golf has been a constant in my life, a passion I share with millions of others. Creating GOLFPASS with NBC Sports was driven by my desire to enrich the golf experience for fans all around the world,” said McIlroy. “Arnold Palmer showed tremendous vision when founding GOLF Channel in 1995 and it now stands as a significant part of his legacy. I have the utmost respect for the impact he made on the game and I will carry that spirit forward by helping to lead our sport into its digital future with GOLFPASS.”

GOLFPASS with Rory McIlroy Season: 2019 — Pictured: Rory McIlroy — (Photo by: Cy Cyr/Golf Channel)

GOLFPASS: CONNECTING GOLFERS TO THEIR PASSION

GOLFPASS perks and benefits span five pillars – Play, Learn, Watch, Travel and Shop – which are the most frequent ways golfers engage with the sport. A GOLFPASS membership – $9.99 per month or $99 per year – is unmatched and available today via www.golfpass.com and soon via connected TV, and iOS and Android apps. Memberships tailored for the U.K., Ireland and Australia will launch in the coming months:

  • PLAY: GOLFPASS members receive a free round of golf each month, good at a choice of 7,000 GOLFNOW partner golf courses in 26 countries around the world, including Royal  Portrush Golf Club, site of The Open this year in Northern Ireland, and top resorts like Harbour Town at Sea Pines Resort, TPC Deere Run, home of the PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic, or Pasatiempo Golf Club. Members receive 25% in savings when registering to compete on the GOLF Am Tour, which annually hosts 800 local, regional and national amateur tournaments in the U.S., Canada and, soon, Australia. Additionally, GOLFPASS+  ($199 per year) members receive additional benefits on GOLFNOW, including waived booking fees, cancellation protection and 25% extra rewards points.
  • LEARN: At launch, GOLFPASS members will have access to more than 4,000 on-demand instruction videos featuring many of the world’s elite coaches, including Sean Foley (Justin Rose) and Cameron McCormick (Jordan Spieth), as well as McIlroy’s coach, Michael Bannon with their GOLFPASS Original series, Lessons with a Champion Golfer. GOLFPASS instructional content includes tips from golf legends, including Paul Azinger, Nick Faldo, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and more. And GOLFPASS provides access to Revolution GOLF’s award-winning roster of coaches: Foley, McCormick, Martin Chuck, Chris Como, Martin Hall and Andrew Rice. Other GOLFPASS benefits include special pricing and early access to Revolution GOLF Schools, and golf-specific fitness and training programs, including Core Golf with Don Saladino.
  • WATCH: Showcasing a video library totaling more than 1,000 hours this year, GOLFPASS is home to exclusive GOLFPASS Originals, as well as GOLF Channel’s robust video archive, which spans historic competitions, insight from golf’s biggest names and award-winning franchises like Emmy-nominated Feherty, Emmy-award winning GOLF Films and more. Exclusive GOLFPASS Originals at launch include My Roots: Rory McIlroyMy Daily Routine and Toughest Tracks, with an expanding slate rolling out throughout the year.
  • TRAVEL – GOLFPASS members receive unlimited $100 travel credits at a selection of top resorts, including Sea Island in Georgia, The Biltmore in Miami and Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas. Members receive unlimited $100 credits for all GOLF Advisor Getaways, which are scheduled at spectacular resorts, including Streamsong Resort in Florida, Turning Stone Resort & Casino in New York and Baha Mar Casino & Hotel in the Bahamas. And members receive insider travel information and custom itineraries built from GOLF Advisor  experiences at more than 10,000 golf destinations around the world.
  • SHOP: Annual GOLFPASS members receive a free dozen TaylorMade golf balls. GOLFPASS members can shop more than 45 brands and take advantage of exclusive member pricing on clubs, apparel, accessories, digital instructional tools and training aids – including free shipping. TaylorMade, as an official GOLFPASS partner, will provide member pricing across their best-in-class equipment and golf ball portfolio, preferred access to new product releases and exclusive, Rory McIlroy limited-edition products.

GOLFPASS: EXCLUSIVE CONTENT FROM RORY MCILROY

McIlroy’s role as GOLFPASS’s founder was highlighted last night when he introduced GOLFPASS on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and continues today with scheduled appearances on NBC’s TODAY, CNBC’s Squawk Box, GOLF’s Morning Drive; NBCSN’s Men in Blazers; McIlroy will start sporting the GOLFPASS logo on his golf bag at next week’s Genesis Open. Additionally, McIlroy’s contributions include co-hosting an exclusive GOLFPASS podcast with television host, radio personality and Emmy award-winning producer Carson Daly (The VoiceTODAY), as well as kicking off four GOLFPASS Originals and continually providing exclusive content:

  • My Roots: Rory McIlroy: McIlroy shares his own story – openly and honestly – from his humble beginnings to his meteoric rise to world No. 1, four-time major champion and FedExCup Champion. My Roots: Rory McIlroy is the first six-chapter installment of this GOLFPASS Originals interview series, which will capture the journeys of a wide spectrum of leaders from across the golf landscape.
  • My Daily Routine: McIlroy kicks off this GOLFPASS Original series where top golfers, athletes, entertainers and acclaimed business professionals explain what they do each day to keep them sharp – including “life hack” tips spanning from their morning rituals to how they wind down at night.
  • Lessons with a Champion Golfer:  In the first season of this GOLFPASS Original instructional series, members learn directly from McIlroy and his lifetime instructor, Michael Bannon, as they share drills and tips used throughout McIlroy’s career. This 12-part series features premium-quality instruction and utilizes top technology, including a Swing 360 camera, specialty graphics, Toptracer and Trackman stats.
  • Toughest Tracks: Travel the globe with top golfers, analysts and celebrities to find out how they navigate some of the hardest holes in golf. In the first episode, McIlroy walks the newly designed 7th hole and several others at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, site of The Open this year.

Perks

“GOLFPASS is truly an exciting new platform and community for golfers. We are proud to be a launch partner and look forward to integrating our TaylorMade brand and presenting our best-in-class products to GOLFPASS members in the years to come,” said David Abeles, president and CEO, TaylorMade Golf Company.

ABOUT NBC SPORTS GROUP’S GOLF DIVISION

NBC Sports Group’s GOLF division delivers multimedia golf content, technology and services. Anchored by GOLF Channel – co-founded by Arnold Palmer in 1995 – GOLFcontent is available to nearly 500 million viewers in nine languages across more than 70 countries around the world. GOLF features more live coverage of the sport than all other U.S. networks combined, including global tournament action from the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour, European Tour, NCAA, THE PLAYERS, The Open, Olympics, Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, as well as high-quality news, instruction and original programming. Delivering unmatched coverage from the world of golf via GOLF Digital, fans can access 24/7 live streaming through the NBC Sports App, as well as complementary coverage via PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold. In addition to these all-encompassing media platforms, NBC Sports connects the world to golf through a wide array of technology and lifestyle services, including: GOLFNOW, the world’s largest online tee time booking platform; GOLF Business Solutions, solving business needs through leading technology, marketing and services; GOLFPASS, an all-in-one digital membership delivering comprehensive benefits tailored to the modern golfer’s lifestyle; Revolution GOLF, the world’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform in golf, offering best-in-class video instruction and game improvement products; GOLF Advisor, the ultimate digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring the largest number of user-generated golf course ratings and reviews in the industry; GOLF Academy, a North American network of instructional facilities; and GOLF Am Tour, the world’s largest amateur golf tour. GOLF’s global reach originates from its world headquarters in Orlando, Fla., and extends to its international office in Belfast, Northern Ireland; regional offices across North America, Europe and Australia; and also includes collaborations with Sky Sports and serving as the Official Media Partner of St Andrews Links.

Sports Techie Q & A

Q. Lessons with a Champion Golfer instructional series uses cutting edge sports tech products such as Swing 360 camera, specialty graphics, Toptracer and Trackman stats. What kind of an impact does using GOLFPASS sports tech have on your golf game and also the lifestyle you and fellow golfers lead?

RORY McILROY: “Technology continues to play a big part in my game, both on the range as I dial in my distances depending on conditions from tournament to tournament, as well as using statistics to evaluate areas where I can improve.  With GOLFPASS, we’ve incorporated a lot of technology – especially with the instructional content – so that avid golfers can improve their own games. The graphics, Toptracer and Trackman help my coach, Michael Bannon, and I to better illustrate the tips we share.”

Q. How are you addressing marketing to women and the millennial Gen Z community?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, so I’d say obviously that’s a very great question. I think golf does need to obviously get more women playing, and I think there are some great initiatives out there to get — whether it be younger women or millenial generation to take up the game, and I think GolfPass is a part of that. I don’t think it’s the whole solution, but to definitely make golf more accessible and to make it a little easier and fun to be involved in and play I think is a good part of it.

But you bring up a very interesting point. It is a state — I think golf is in a great spot right now, but at the same time we need to encourage the younger generation to get out there and play more and also young females and women in the game, as well.

MIKE McCARLEY: One thing of note: If you look at all the various demographic groups in the game of golf over the last few years, the fastest growing demographic group is actually young girls. So if you look at some of the things that the various governing bodies in the game have done, probably the one that’s getting the most attention is the Drive, Chip and Putt event that’s held the Sunday prior to Masters week at Augusta National that we televise on Golf Channel because there’s qualifying — local and regional qualifying all around the country. The PGA Junior Leagues, where kids play on a team much like they would in little league, gives a kid a really good introduction to the sport, much like they would in another team sport. The LPGA and the USGA have gotten together for a girls’ golf initiative that’s very successful.

So I think you’re starting to see —

RORY McILROY: And the Women’s Amateur at Augusta that’s coming up this year.

MIKE McCARLEY: Good point. The day before the Drive, Chip and Putt, the inaugural Women’s Amateur will be played. The top female amateurs in the world will play Augusta National, which will be the first competitive event where women are playing at that obviously historic and storied venue.

And then you look at things like TopGolf and Drive Shack and simulator golf, and you’re starting to see a real groundswell of other ways for young people who may or may not have been engaged in the game of golf to get involved in golf. I mean, you’re kind of — think about it as redefining a golf experience. It doesn’t have to be the first tee at 8:00 a.m. in a pair of spikes. It can be 8:00 p.m. at TopGolf in a pair of flip-flops, and if you have a golf club in your hand, you’re hitting a ball, that’s a golf experience.

GOLFPASS with Rory McIlroy Season: 2019 — Pictured: Rory McIlroy — (Photo by: Cy Cyr/Golf Channel)

Sports Techie, Rory said, “I think golf is uniquely placed and it’s a unique game where the people that watch golf on TV are the ones that play the game, as well, you know, and I think you can’t say that for a lot of sports.”

There is a lot of truth to this statement.

Golf is now in the hands of GOLFPASS as the digital face changes from Arnie to Rory.

Play, Learn, Watch, Travel and Shop with GOLFPASS.

See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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