An idea that was rejected by an industry stalwart as the “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard” has been awarded the 2019 Telstra Business Award.
Future Golf which was launched by, Ali Terai in 2014 with a simple Facebook post and $100 website has turned into a game-changer, quite literally, for Australian golfers.
Terai was inspired to start a passion based business after having his first child Marcel. “I wanted to show Marcel, that if you have an idea, a passion and a dream, it’s worth taking imperfect action and giving it a crack”.
In the 90’s after migrating to Australia, Terai’s father had a dream to start an Indian Restaurant, but it always remained an idea, “My dad was always waiting for the perfect time to start, unfortunately the perfect time doesn’t exist. As a child I saw the toll not following his dream took on my father and I didn’t want to make the same mistake”.
The simple concept of Future Golf was initially jarring for those not ready for the age-old pastime to be shaken up.
“In all my years in the game, this is by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, if you’re around in 3 months time, I’ll eat my hat,” a longtime industry leader said. “You should quit now, this will never work.”
It’s a good thing that Terai and the team of Future Golf didn’t heed that advice.
The member and partner driven movement, which distances itself from ‘old school’ golf by offering rounds and events at partner courses and linking would-be golfers with a youth-driven community in the thousands, has injected more than $5 million into the sport in Australia since launching in 2014 and is now one of the world’s largest communities of younger golfers. The “stupid idea” is thriving.
“We exist because golf needs a platform that is flexible, accessible and friendly,” Future Golf Founder Ali Terai said.
“We wanted to create a golf community that was relaxed, where people didn’t feel out of place or embarrassed. Our core mission is growing the game, getting more people playing and guiding golfers from beginner to addict.”
Future Golf is helping connect a new generation of golfers with a sport that features an average age over 60. 92 per cent of Future Golf members are aged between 25 and 39.
Diversity is a big focus, the team recently launched the $50,000 ‘Future Women’ initiative which fully sponsors 250 memberships to encourage younger women to get into golf . This initiative will single handedly increase the 20-39yo national female participation rate by 5%.
But traditional golf clubs aren’t missing out on a slice of the pie. More than 700 Future Golf members have gone on to become members of clubs all across Australia and inject much needed revenue into the industry..
Mr Terai said the club’s mission is to build a global community of 1 million golfers. But he acknowledges that getting to this point hasn’t been easy.
“It was probably time to pull the pin after getting that early feedback,” he said. “But for some reason we couldn’t. We kept hosting stupidly small events. We kept posting on social media. We kept calling clubs.
“Slowly, a few members started to join and then it snowballed.”
Those members are reaping the rewards, which include rounds at Australia’s best public and private courses, introductory lessons, a golf handicap, golf trips, apparel and access to Xgolf, Topgolf, driving ranges and mini golf. Members who joined say it’s changed their life.
“For me, Future Golf isn’t just a handicap and some free golf,” one member said. “It has become my second family.”
Future Golf now have over 80 partner clubs & facilities ranging from Holey Moley, TopGolf to top private clubs like the Yarra Yarra Golf Club.
Yarra Yarra Golf Club General Manager Peter Vlahandreas said “This is the market we really need, the 25-40 year old market, as they are the future of our clubs. It is a great pathway. We are thrilled to be a prestige partner with Future Golf and look forward to an amazing partnership together.”