Shanghai, China: This year’s HSBC Golf Business Forum Innovation Award has been won by Golphin Ltd (Golphinforkids) – the Scottish-based company who designed and now manufacture a unique set of golf clubs which is revolutionising the way children aged between three and 11 around the world play the game.
The HSBC Golf Business Forum Innovation Award attracted more than 100 entries this year – compared with 89 last year.
Eleven entries were selected for judging by a panel comprising Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, HSBC; Joe Beditz, President, National Golf Foundation; Andrea Sartori, Global Head of Sport, KPMG; Antony Scanlon, Executive Director, International Golf Federation; Carin Koch, 2015 European Solheim Cup captain; Eric Lynge, CEO, Asian Golf Industry Federation; Tim Merrett, Senior Vice President of all Turf Divisions, John Deere; Du Sha, Chairman, Pacific Links International; Alastair Johnston, Vice Chairman, IMG; and Xavier Asensi, Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Barcelona FC.
The shortlist of entries that was considered by the panel came from Moore Park Golf Club, Golf Stream Inc, Golphin Ltd, Golf Voyager Ltd, Piza Golf Design, Swingbot, Turner Sports, Ayrshire Golf Company, TurfLynx, All Square and SkyTrak.
Golphin Ltd was confirmed as the winner after Calum McPherson, the company’s Managing Director, pitched to the room his company, how they have got to where they are now and their plans going forward.
There was then a 10-minute question session led by a panel of Dr Paul Hawkins (Founder of Hawk-Eye Innovations), Jim Nugent (Founder and Publisher of Global Golf Post) and Matthew Kirkby (HSBC Regional Head of Large Corporates, Asia Pacific, Commercial Banking).
Michael Pask, Senior Vice President of IMG, said: “We would like to congratulate Golphin Ltd for standing out amidst a number of very compelling entries to win this year’s HSBC Golf Business Forum Innovation Award.
“Golphin’s enthusiasm and creative approach to improving children’s golf equipment was demonstrated clearly through their presentation and submission and by partnering with the golf industry at an amateur and professional level they have undoubtedly made the game more appealing to juniors. Ultimately, our panel of experts from the world of finance, innovation and media were conclusive in crowning Golphin this year’s winner.”
McPherson said: “Our range, designed in Scotland in 2013, was inspired by the lack of suitable and accessible products for children within this age group. At the time, normal junior and kids clubs were too heavy, causing children to sway and lose control. In effect, the club was swinging the kid, rather than the kid swinging the club.
“Using technology transfer from the aerospace industry we have created clubs which are 30% lighter, but just as strong and flexible. This provides children with an easier swing and allows them for the first time to naturally maintain their balance and instinctively to hinge and rotate their wrists and arms on the backswing. Our club heads are larger than traditional junior clubs, making it easier for children to connect with the ball.
“We have added a radial profile on the sole, making our clubs forgiving for variable lie angles. This feature accommodates different address positions and heights of children. All of these factors combine to provide young kids with an enjoyable, fun-filled and confidence-building experience on the golf course for the first time.”
By September 2013, McPherson had secured the assistance of the Advanced Materials Forming Centre, Strathclyde University, Glasgow and the first prototype had been designed and manufactured. Trials with three PGA golf professionals were then conducted and discussions with The R&A were opened.
Trials on the final prototype were conducted at seven locations with results showing 94% of participants performing at a higher level using golphinforkids clubs.
In December, 2013 the first clubs went into production with the official launch taking place at the Scottish Golf Show in March, 2014. The English launch was at The Open Championship in Hoylake, where the clubs were exclusively selected by The R&A as the coaching product for the Swingzone coaching event.
While exhibiting at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January, McPherson met with various coaching organisations and governing bodies, including the Titleist Performance Institute.
“They were so impressed with our clubs and approach to kids golf development they have selected our clubs as the product of choice for their 15,000 golf coaches to use in their coaching programmes. In addition, we signed lucrative supply contracts with several major national golfing governing bodies,” said McPherson, adding that plans are afoot to launch Golphinforkids to China at the Beijing Golf Show.
Duncan Weir, The R&A’s Executive Director, said: “The high-quality and versatile golphinforkids kit is very impressive. It is certainly well-geared for getting youngsters into golf and helping to address the undoubted participation issues the sport is currently facing in Great Britain and Ireland.”
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