Norman and Verizon Bring Live TV, Music, and More to your Golf Cart

By James A. Frank

If you’re not a fan of high-tech on the course—cell phones, GPS watches, swing sensors, and the like—then you might want to stop reading now.

But for everyone else, golf’s brave new world continues to evolve. Some very interesting people are rolling out some very clever and exciting products to bring the game into the modern era and, as with almost all of today’s most compelling ideas, to entice Millennials.

I recently had the opportunity to test-drive what is being called the “Shark Experience.” The shark, of course, is Greg Norman, whose company is spearheading a new, technology-rich way of bringing much-needed fun and entertainment into golf. And without making the hole bigger, throwing Frisbees, or kicking a ball with your feet.

Norman is collaborating with Verizon (wireless network), Club Car (golf cars), and GPSi (GPS systems) to, in their words, bring “connectivity, content, and customization” to the course.

Their vehicle for this is, in fact, a vehicle—golf cars and the video screens that are increasingly found in them at courses both public and private. Right now, those screens are used primarily to show how the hole looks and plays, and occasionally to order food and drinks. But Norman said he had a revelation while walking around a car-staging area at a club he frequents: Only about a third of the vehicles had those screens, which got him wondering how they could be put to better use.

That was more than four years ago, and it took him that long to convince the other companies that this was “virgin space” for a big idea that would help grow the game while also shaking it up.

What they came up with is a Club Car model featuring a high-definition touchscreen, built-in speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity, with streaming content powered by Verizon that includes dozens of music channels, video of live sports, highlights, news, other entertainment, instruction tips from Norman, and sophisticated yardage tracking plus other course information from GPSi. The platform also offers the golfer the chance to go cashless: Purchases are charged to an account associated with the car, providing a “member for a day” experience that does away with constantly dipping into your pocket or golf bag for money.

Those features will be available in the roll-out phase, which begins early next year when the new cars begin turning up at select courses. The next functions—which should be available by the middle of next year—include food ordering, hole-in-one competitions, and the ability to use Shot Tracer, following the track of your shots as they do on TV. “It’s a living breathing platform that will continue to develop,” said Jason Goldberg, who runs the media division of Norman’s company, as we were testing it out on the sporty and classic (circa 1896) Ocean Course at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

So what’s it like? In a word: Fun.

The yardage information is dynamic, allowing you to drag a finger across the screen and see how far it is to or from any hazard or the green. Watching highlights of yesterday’s big game or live feeds of sports and other programming certainly fits the demographic and sociological profiles of most golfers I know, who already spend a good part of every round talking about other sports. And while there are some obvious Rules and slow play issues, watching Greg get out of the sand might help you do the same.

For me, the home run is streaming music. As a certified Baby Boomer, I’m used to music everywhere and have long wanted it on the golf course. I’ve tried, using portable speakers and such, but there were always drawbacks, starting with annoying other golfers. The Shark Experience has this licked.

As a number of the people associated with the product told me, they’re especially proud how the speakers fit in the cars—just under the roof and angled slightly down so the music (or whatever you’re listening to, and the Slacker streaming service has dozens of offerings) sounds great when you’re sitting in the car but is almost imperceptible when you step out. No bothering other golfers or your Led Zepplin clashing with their Willie Nelson.

The other great thing about music is how it makes the round more enjoyable. Conversation in the car seems easier, there are other things to talk about besides golf and your game (“Hey, put on Disco!”), and you’re likely to swing with better rhythm when listening to anything with rhythm. There are many studies that show music helps people be happier, more social, and more productive. I felt all of those, and more.

Sacrilegious? Some people may think so, but I’d argue that those same people should still be using brassies to smack at featheries. Golf could use a shot in the arm, a little life and levity, and while I don’t think attracting Millennials is the end-all and be-all of the game’s future, a more relaxed and social atmosphere ultimately will be good for everyone who plays. This certainly isn’t for use under tournament conditions and it would be great if more people walked their rounds.

But most golfers ride and they all want to have fun. That’s what the Shark Experience is all about.

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What do you think about this new technology? Is it something you’d want in your golf cart? If you had it in your cart, would you use it? Let us know in the comments below!

76 thoughts on “Norman and Verizon Bring Live TV, Music, and More to your Golf Cart

  1. NOTHING BUT GOLF SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF YOUR MIND WHEN YOU ARE ON THE COURSE.
    YOU HAVE ODDLES OF HOURS BEFORE AND AFTER EACH ROUND TO WATCH TV, LISTEN TO TUNES ETC.
    I VIEW GOLF AS MY RELIGION AND REALLY DON’T WANT ANY DISTRACTION FROM THE GREATEST GAME.

  2. Written by a true salesman for the product. I agree that we need to grow the game, but not at the expense of the meaning and virtues of the game. Have you ever had people take their cell phone calls and shout into the phone right in the middle of an event, dinner out, or a quiet walk in the park, now we propose to do the same thing on a golf course so a small group of people can make a buck?

    To paraphrase a famous author, “now golf will really become a good walk spoiled.”

  3. I think it will add some fun to the game and especially while you are waiting between holes for those slow people you know who you are ! i would enjoy watching a football game during the down time .

  4. No thank you, golf is slow enough as it is. Lasers were suppose to speed up play, they didn’t. An average golfer spends more time trying to get the yardage, than we did when we walked it off. Thanks to pros taking 6 hours, everyone thinks it’s O.K. to act like a pro on the course. Cell phones added 15 to 30 minutes to a round of golf. If you can play a round in under 5 hours nowdays, you’ve done good.

  5. Just what we need, another distraction to increase the time it takes to play around…wait, wait, I need to see this play before I hit my ball. Now how far out am I….?

  6. If any course that I thought of playing installed a televised link to their carts, I would never go play there again. Even if I walked the course, I am sure there would be a number of times that other players (in carts) would be stopped and gawking at the screen. NO THANKS folks. The golf course is a terrific place to go to GET AWAY from all the televised hype and cr#p and distractions that has become commonplace on TV. Seriously, what a terrible idea.

  7. Just another gimmick for a few people to make money and adding an additional distraction on the course that will definitely add time to the already long and slow rounds.
    Rafael

  8. This has to be a joke. First of all I don’t think Greg Norman would want music and television playing when he’s playing golf as with any serious golfer you guys have got to be out of your mind.

  9. No way would I ever return to any course dumb enough to have this on their carts. Greg Norman needs to just disappear into the Outback. He’s embarrassed himself enough since he retired from competitive golf. I’d like to just remember him as the great golfer he was rather than the nucklehead he’s become.

  10. Forget it !!! Norman makes enough $$$ Who wants an idiot playing music etc on the next hole while you are putting or making an approach shot
    Leave it in the 19th hole bar

  11. just what the game needs… brilliant! more ways to reach 7 hour rounds of golf. Greg Norman is one of my all time favorite golfers , he shanked this one!

  12. So, this will replace conversation. I also envision accidents in which distracted drivers under the influence of alcohol (or maybe not) hit golfers, ball washers, tee signs, etc. There are enough golf cart incidents already. If you want all this, stay home and watch TV and play a golf video game.

  13. As the majority of the comments, this is an awful idea! I have experienced first-hand being an “annoyed golfer” (as stated in the article) by a group of golfers bringing their own speakers and blasting music you could hear clear across the course! And, they couldn’t get out of their cart in a timely fashion because they were “yuckin’ it up” with the music. Maybe more energy should be put into improving the pace of play–and educating courses on how to manage their tee sheet–than entertaining golfers. If they don’t enjoy the game as it is today, than find another sport to get involved in!

  14. For me golf is a walking game and a time to relax. At 75 I walk a 6,400 yard course in 3 1/2 hours (don’t ask the number of swipes at the ball!) and have fun. I have no problem when course crowding extends this to 4 hours.
    I have no problem occasionally riding when the group I am playing with, or the course routing, want to do that. By the same token I have no problem with Mr. Norman’s proposed device as long as it does not slow down the game and I can’t hear the music.

  15. A bad idea, in my opinion! Streaming another golf tournament will slow some of the turtles down even more. Golf is a time to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Music on the course is a pain in the butt.

  16. Isn’t it amazing that the ‘Shark’, who would step back from a shot if someone in the crowd ‘coughed’, ‘sneezed’ or(God forbid!) ‘snapped a photo’, would be pushing this.. Not hard to figure out….Simply follow the $$$. As the late-great ‘Yogi Berra’ would say; “Include me out”!

  17. Absolutely ridiculous! I want to be in my golf zone and not be distracted by a screen full of talking heads.
    My wife and I watch all golf telecasts and actually even mute the women’s golf telecasts because all the announcers are masters of the obvious and never just shut up and let you watch the action. Evidently they don’t know there are visuals on the screen or that people can read and comprehend what’s going on. They talk as if the audience is listening on the radio!

  18. Just as most have suggested, this pervasive assault on our senses that is so distracting all day everywhere you go is why the sounds of nature and conversation and focusing on your game make golf such a pleasant diversion. No thanks, Greg!

  19. totally agree with most of the comments…getting away from tv and technology is a great part of golf….is it too late to take up fishing?????

  20. Here is an idea. I know it is revolutionary, lets play golf for golf’s sake and not muddy the waters with all this crap. I am not a Luddite, but golf is you your clubs and your brain against the course. Range finder is your eye. Most of the guys I see using a range finder or the distance on the display have difficulty controlling it +- 30 yards. Why bother. Grip it and rip it.
    What the game needs is less distractions not more, purity not ridiculous innovation to sell us more crap while we are supposed to get away. If you want music, and videos and such stay home or go to TopGolf or other similar driving ranges with bars and other entertainment, but don’t bring that on the course.

  21. As someone who is immersed in technology in sales, photography, marketing, etc., I am around noise and moving images constantly. Golf is an escape from all that. PLEASE DO NOT make this assault on our senses the new normal in golf. FEEL FREE to improve distance measuring and offer timely course management tips, especially on resort courses, since there are no longer caddies to help us do that. But leave the noise off-course.

  22. A totally absurd concept that will slow down the already woefully slow experience and add just more distraction.I have been playing 50 plus years and I am totally disgusted with the pace of play and the deterioration of the golf experience. I am sick and tired of cell phones ringing, music playing and taking 5 plus hours to play while riding when I grew up walking in 3-31/2 hours. The game is losing me and many others who have had enough of five hour rounds, five hundred dollar drivers and stupidly high green fees.

  23. One of the things that attracts me to golf is being out in nature with only natural sounds around me. I also enjoy talking with my playing partners. There are many other places to enjoy media – leave the golf course alone!!

  24. One of the worst ideas in quite some time. Like most golfers believe, I’m guessing, one of the great beauties of golf is that it gets you out in a beautiful place and AWAY from the blare of ringing cell phones, loud music, flashing video images and the other distractions that make it difficult to think straight. And now these would be brought right into the golf cart? Where they would distract (and hence slow down) not only the occupants of the cart, but also those unfortunates who are walking and playing in the same group?

    There are way too many haters out there with mean spirited comments; but it IS hard to see why Greg Norman would lend his name to an idiotic idea like this other than for a payday.

  25. I think I get it. Club Car, Verizon, Greg Norman and GPSi are all advertisers. I really like Links, and really do not want to dislike it. I like the writing about golf courses and the photos.
    This story — like the concept — is an abomination. A great golf clubs with major-championship courses, the general rule is “no cell phone usage, please.” You think that any of them are going to Bluetooth-enable golf their golf carts?

  26. Absolutely the worst idea I’ve ever seen. The golf course is my last refuge from the insanity of cellphones. I better start putting money aside now, because if someone pulls up next to me with one of these, I’ll smash it to bits…

  27. Technology is great & has made life more enjoyable, however golf is a very special game. One of the greatest joys of golf is the quiet & tranquility of being on a golf course. To me this idea is horrible. Peace & quiet, time to think and simply enjoy life. This is an idea I can do without.

  28. A dumb idea ! We need no more noise and distractions on the course.
    Norman will do anything to get his name and picture in headlines.
    Showboat !!
    John Wiegandi

  29. This is a terrible idea, there are already a bunch of people playing with their phones slowing up golf. Why would anyone need to watch tv while playing golf. I would avaiod any course that got these.

  30. This will be the portal to the 7 hour round. First there will be the GPS distance, which might help. Then the lessons, which will slow things down. Then the connection with the outside world, which will distract from your concentration. Finally, the ads – guaranteed to make you want to play golf every day. No thanks, Shark. Stick to the wine.

  31. This tops the list of bad ideas. It will drive more people away from playing golf then attracting them. The next thing you might offer is to put guns in carts. That would be a way to quiet all those who are creating a disturbance with the TV’s in their carts. Greg, just stick to golf.

  32. Greg is thinking small. How about reclining massaging seats, foot baths, yoga mats and video instruction, computer link to Greg Norman Estates wine sales with droid delivery on the course…
    Good grief.

  33. You have to be kidding!!!!!!
    The game is sooooo long as it is, this can only add to it.
    How about an electric shock in the seat of the cart if the group in front of you is taking too long!!!!

  34. Bad Idea. More slower play. Distracting. Golfers with a spirits encouraging them will have the volume turned up to …. decimals! Why don’t we have a dancing with the golfers contest in addition to unbelievable slow play while waiting to tee off on the next hole.

  35. Thanks to the comments by the vast majority of the above 40 my faith in my fellow human has been restored. I sincerely hope that Mr.Norman will take note and that Verizon will stick to their own business.

  36. Pleaseeee! I’m OK with the GPS function but leave out all the music and other stuff. The already slow pace of play would be made slower with golfers watching sports or news between shots. This innovation probably will play well with the Top Golf crowd, but not with people who love the sport for it’s traditions and challenges.

  37. I suspect it’s the GenXers and older (wiser?) who are hating it, and why I’ll probably never use it.
    But it’s clearly built for millennials in an attempt to attract more to the game.
    As such, I think it’s certainly a worthy development.
    But, like a lot of people here, I hope it doesn’t put me off my shot, or slow things down anymore.

  38. I don’t mind someone listing to music on the golf course, but I don’t want to listen to their music. Ear buds are fine, but when you put speakers on the cart, you are forcing your desire for music, and type of music on others. And as for the video, you know that it will include a cascade of advertisements. Just what we need on the golf course.

  39. Well I think 99% of the above comments sum it up. No sense in adding insult to injury. But you know what all the negative comment in the world won’t stop it, only time will tell.

  40. Love the approach to broaden the reach of golf. As a long time player, it’s clear we need new entrants to the game. All sports that are thriving are doing so because they’ve continued to evolve and invite new participants to the game. Time for golf to do the same. Congrats to Greg and Verizon for taking the initiative to offer new alternatives for current and future golfers.

  41. The author responds: First, thank you all who replied for sharing your opinions. Obviously slow play is the major concern, but personally I think people will quickly figure out how to incorporate this into their rounds without being any slower than they are now. Having actually used the product, I didn’t feel it was slowing play and, really, most golfers should be smart enough to keep it moving while enjoying those elements of the Shark Experience that they like. (If nothing else, it will give you something to help pass the time while waiting for those slow golfers playing from un-wired carts!)
    And that’s the key. You don’t have to use it, you don’t have to listen, watch, or do everything. You can choose to turn it off. (Although the enhanced course maps were quite good.) I agree with those people who think golf can be a wonderful respite from the rest of the world, particularly cell phones and other beeping, shrieking techno-products. But the music was great, it really was confined to inside the cart, and I’m convinced I played better because of the rhythm. (For me, better The Eagles than the Sex Pistols.)
    And while it can help address the problems attracting new golfers (not only Millennials but certainly they’re in the target audience), I think a lot of “traditional” golfers will enjoy certain parts of this. Not every round you play is serious, is it?
    Finally, this had nothing to do with advertisers. But when a new and interesting idea comes along, we want to report on it. You don’t want to try it? Fine. Play well, enjoy yourself. But you just might be surprsied. Really.
    Jim Frank

    1. Even if you don’t have to use it and can turn it off, no doubt this will be included in the green fee regardless. It’ll only increase the price of a golf round for yet, another stupid and unnecessary reason.

  42. Jim-“…most golfers should be smart enough to keep it moving…” As most here are lamenting, way too many don’t now. How on earth will these developments cause them to see the light and change their behavior? It can only make things worse. Most golfers should also be smart enough–and respectful enough–to repair their ball marks, rake bunkers, honor the 90 degree rule when asked… But many are not. This is an effort to significantly change the game, not grow it.

  43. There are few places and a few times in my life when I can get away from the hustle and bustle of life, the news cycle and the blaring noise they call music today. The golf course is my escape and I don’t need to be reminded about the pressures of life. And by the way…the GPS was supposed to speed up play. Just watch a person drive to his ball. STOP. Look up to see the flag color. Look at the GPS. Look back at the ball and the lie. Check the wind. Check the GPS again. Get out, walk around and pick out a club…….and meanwhile the partner in the cart is waiting so he can take the cart to his ball across the fairway and the same scenario. Remember 2 shots on the fairway, an extra thirty seconds per shot, four players and you have a five hour round on a good day! And all that is without the distractions of noise. If that is what it is going to take to interest the next generation in the game, shut it down.

  44. This is not the way to go. Neither are the golf boards instead of walking. This is an effort to recreate the game for those that might not be interested. I like the fact that there are fewer people playing it speeds up play and allows more course availability.

  45. The golf course is the place to ESCAPE from technology (with the exception of rangefinders and GPS devices, of course)! No thanks on the live TV and music…

  46. Mr. Frank – you state ” I didn’t feel it was slowing play”. Has this product been beta tested to determine if it in FACT does or does not affect pace of play?
    I agree with your statement of keeping us informed of new ideas and products and want to see that continue but when you add ” this had nothing to do with advertisers” I have to disagree. Almost everything has to do with advertisers. Google, Facebook, ESPN, Verizon and a ton of other entities do not exist without advertisers.
    I’m all for new ideas to help improve the game, add new players and improve pace of play but this is one product I would definitely pass on.
    Between the lines all I can see is a few people trying to get rich and not looking out for the game of golf. Just a thought – I could be wrong.

  47. I love my computer…but not on the golf course.
    I love my cell phone…but never on the golf course.
    I love my Classic Rock, and I love it LOUD!!! But not during my favorite thing in life, GOLF!! Horrible idea Greg. Hope your idea flops like your golf game did many years ago.

  48. No need to add anything. It seems evident that this idea will not fly with many golfers. When I tee it up I have no interest in what is going on with other sports. It is bad enough when others get on their cell phones to discuss a business plan when I getting ready to hit. Stay at your office to conduct your business.

  49. Remind me not to play with all you fun police. I regularly play in a group where we walk, play music, break 80, finish under 4 hours and actually have some fun. The key is to respect other groups and that is easy to do.
    Golf changes and evolves. Does anyone wear a shirt and tie to play anymore? Hit persimmon woods? C’mon folks. It is not bad for the game and may actually attract others.

  50. I think it will be a distraction. Distractions slow down play and slow play is a serious problem already.
    Players already bring music to the carts. Unfortunately they think they have to have the volume loud enough to hear it when they are away from the carts. Very displeasing.

  51. There is an ebb and flow to every round of golf. Very slow golfers disrupt that flow and cause irritation to everyone waiting and waiting. This cannot help but make more fits and starts the norm. No. Just no.

  52. Everyone get ready for eight hour rounds. First thing to put in the Bluetooth is Greg Norman’s private phone number. First call everyone makes MUST be to Greg to say “Thanks a lot!” Can you say “Bad Idea?” I’ve already played with salesmen who spend the entire round on their cellphones and with Millennials who can’t think without their “Tunes” blasting in everyone’s ears. Doesn’t help their golf game, or anyone else’s for that matter. Then again, I still think “golf boards” are a crazy (read: BAD) idea.

  53. Having a device like this in a golf cart is sad and pathetic. There’s no stopping it though, I think. This constant electronic presence in every moment and in every aspect of our lives will never stop. It’s something that people will evolve to need and expect. It’s just the equivalent of an adult pacifier.

    And don’t even get me started on golf carts. I dislike those things passionately too. That makes me a dinosaur, I know, but too bad, that’s how I feel.

  54. It should be first tested at the Master’s. I know this means that carts will have to be available to the players or caddies but for the GOOD OF THE GAME this will
    be no problem. Let the music blare on the back nine on Sunday to keep the patrons from dozing off.

  55. This idea needs to be KILLED quickly, with fire. Who wants to be stuck behind some jack-wagon that’s watching TV on the golf course? And the music is “almost” imperceptible outside the cart? There are already enough rude people playing music on the golf course without making it easier form them. Advanced GPS is fine, as well as running a tab for the cart, but everything else is horrible.
    No, no, no, a thousand times NO!

  56. This is a terrible idea that will make for continued slow rounds. The way to attract more players in golf is quicker rounds. Younger families have their children in many activities leaving free time for parents to be less than that of June and Ward Cleaver from the good old days.

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