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Teeing Off: Dubai-Based Club Lab Golf Wants to Empower The Next Generation Of Golf Professionals In The UAE Dubai-based Club Lab Golf is combining technology-powered coaching and personalized club fitting to empower the next generation of golf professionals in the UAE.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Left to right- Reg van Rooyen and Rohan Mehta, co-founders of Club Lab Golf; and Marno Vorster, PGA professional and Head of Instruction and Coach at Club Lab Golf.

There is no one-size-fits-all template to achieving success in sports. And it is precisely with this ethos that the Dubai-based Club Lab Golf was founded as a golf coaching, expert club fitting, and club-building studio by Rohan Mehta and Reg van Rooyen in 2022. "The inspiration behind launching Club Lab Golf stemmed from a perceptive observation of a gap in the market," Mehta says. "In a market where the focus was primarily on retail or coaching in isolation, we saw an opportunity to provide a holistic approach that combined personalized coaching and expert fitting. This realization prompted us to double down on these crucial aspects -coaching and fitting- and offer them together as a cohesive experience. Our aim was to stand out by bridging the gap, and becoming a one-stop-shop solution for all golf-related services."

The 2,550 sq. ft-wide Club Lab Golf 's offerings are thus demarcated into two verticals: one-on-one coaching that leverages the latest sports technology, and expert club fittings customized to a given player's existing skillset and natural play. "Our overarching long-term vision for the company centers on enhancing each golfer's skillset, and, ultimately, helping them become better players," Mehta adds. "We're dedicated to addressing golfers' needs, starting with state-of-the-art equipment and personalized coaching. We aspire for Club Lab Golf to create a ripple effect within the UAE's golfing sector by setting new standards for player development, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement."

Now, for Mehta, who has forayed into other entrepreneurial ventures in the past, the idea to launch a golf-centric entity was sparked when he crossed paths with van Rooyen, who is a Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) member. Armed with van Rooyen's professional expertise as well as the power of technology, Club Lab Golf 's services are thus targeted at helping golfers finetune and upskill their talents. "We employ a comprehensive array of cutting-edge sports technology to elevate the quality of our coaching and fitting," van Rooyen explains. "The centerpiece is the Foresight Sports GCQuad, a leading indoor simulation system renowned for its unparalleled precision in coaching, ball-tracking, and club data analysis. This camera-based device ensures accuracy by eliminating assumptions, enabling us to provide real-time, reliable insights. We also utilize Swing Catalyst, a high-speed camera software operating at 600 frames per second. This advanced tool allows us to meticulously analyze golfers' swings, identifying crucial details for improvement. Complementing these technologies, we've invested in high-grade real-feel hitting mats that replicate the authentic feel and spin of real grass."

Club Lab Golf's simulation-like environment therefore clearly aims to replicate the feel of a real golf course, while offering the comfort of practicing in an indoor space. But one might also be curious if such an option can truly substitute the benefits of using an actual golf course. The answer to that is a simple "yes," argues Mehta. "With our indoor facility, golfers can practice, receive coaching, and get fitted for clubs year-round, overcoming weather limitations that often impact outdoor facilities," he adds. "The use of cutting-edge sports technology sets us apart, providing immediate data on club and ball performance, enabling golfers to understand their true distances accurately, and eliminate guesswork. Our climate-controlled facility also guarantees comfort, regardless of external conditions. What truly differentiates Club Lab Golf is our personalized approach to providing one-on-one services across the board."

But beyond the realm of technology-powered coaching, comes Club Lab Golf 's dedication to offering customized golfing clubs and other equipment. "Club fitting, in simple terms, is like a tailored suit for a golfer's game," van Rooyen says. "It involves assessing a golfer's unique attributes and swing dynamics to determine the optimal specifications for their golf clubs. For instance, a player's skill level or handicap plays a pivotal role in crafting the perfect club. Beginners, for instance, might start with the basics like correcting their grip size and length of the golf club to ensure comfort and ease of learning. As a golfer progresses and gains consistency, more intricate elements like lofts, lies, and angles come into play, fine-tuning the club to match their evolving technique."

As a first-of-its-kind studio in the region, Club Lab Golf brings together a combination of the latest fitting technology, indoor launch monitors, and experienced PGA professionals.
Source: Club Lab Golf

And what may seem as a simple personalization of golfing equipment is, in fact, a significant building block towards creating stronger golfers- and addressing the pitfalls that are inherent to the sport. "We recognized the inconsistencies that can arise from mass-produced clubs, and the discrepancy between claimed and actual specifications," van Rooyen explains. "To address this, our in-house lab ensures precision and transparency in club building. This facility allows us to assem- ble clubs with exact specifications, and provide golfers with data-backed insights into why certain adjustments are necessary. The transparency of our lab fosters education, enabling golfers to understand the mechanics behind their clubs, and make informed choices. By emphasizing transparency, education, and a hands-on approach, Club Lab Golf 's club fitting lab adds depth to the golfer's experience, offering both tailored equipment, and a deeper understanding of the game."

While its expert club fitting services start at a price of AED250, Club Lab Golf 's coaching sessions start at AED575, and its practice bay booking is set at AED250 per person per hour. "Our core target market at Club Lab Golf encompasses a diverse range of golf players and enthusiasts, spanning from beginners to experienced individuals, regardless of gender or age," Mehta adds."Our services cater to a wide spectrum, from those who have never played golf, to seasoned professionals, making it accessible to anyone seeking to enhance their game. The UAE's multicultural landscape draws customers from various corners of the globe, including Saudi Arabia and India. Club Lab Golf is committed to fostering a welcoming environment for all, acknowledging that both women and children are active participants in our community."

As it so happens, Club Lab Golf 's entry in the UAE market comes at a time when the country has been seeing a palpable increased interest in golf. "Over the years, golf tourism in the country has experienced significant evolution, and the COVID- 19 pandemic further accelerated interest, positioning golf as a safe and engaging outdoor activity," van Rooyen says. "This surge was particularly noticeable among younger generations, who sought an avenue for athleticism, fitness, and social interaction. With Dubai hosting major international tournaments like the European Tour, the sport's visibility and allure have continued to expand. Amidst this evolving landscape, Club Lab Golf holds a vital role in attracting more youngsters to learn the game."

Part of van Rooyen and Mehta's plan to entice more young people to take up golf lies in their commitment to changing perceptions about the sport. "Through educational initiatives, engaging social communications, and bite-sized content tailored to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, we aim to bridge the gap and make golf relatable to the younger generation," van Rooyen says. "By leveraging the accessibility and interactivity of social media, we aspire to create an exciting and vibrant golfing community that entices and engages youngsters, fostering a new wave of golf enthusiasts in the UAE." And according to Mehta, that level of awareness building will only continue within the walls of Club Lab Golf. "Education is central to our mission," Mehta declares. "We aim to empower golfers with knowledge, helping them make informed decisions about equipment and coaching that align with their needs and goals. Addressing resistance to coaching and equipment changes is a priority; we aspire to showcase the transformative potential of personalized approaches to golfing."

Now, Club Lab Golf's tech-powered services come at a time when "the human touch versus technology" debate has found its way into the sports arena as well. Both van Rooyen and Mehta, however, remain clear that they key to achieving balance is to not favor one over the other. "The key lies in finding a harmonious synergy between technology and human expertise," Mehta says. "In the realm of golf, for instance, possessing the best equipment and software won't suffice if there isn't a profound comprehension of how golf clubs should be tailored to individual specifications. Similarly, top-tier coaching tools are meaningless without a deep knowledge of the sport. The balance is pivotal!"

At Club Lab Golf, anyone who signs up for a training session will receive a personalized one-on-one experience using the studio's software cum app program, Swing Catalyst.
Source: Club Lab Golf

Similar sentiments are shared by van Rooyen when asked how players can develop mental attributes, such as resilience and grit, in a technology-driven sporting environment. "While coaching has certainly embraced technology, it's crucial to recognize that the essence of coaching transcends the tools employed," he says. "In today's era, where technology provides data-driven insights, the coach remains an indispensable guide in shaping a player's mental attributes like resilience and patience. The coach, far from being replaced, interprets the information technology provides, making informed decisions tailored to the individual's needs. The essence of effective coaching lies in the coach's ability to synthesize technological insights with time-honored coaching principles, resulting in a holistic development that prepares athletes for the multifaceted challenges of the mind and the game."

It is thus with this approach that Club Lab Golf now aims to cement its spot within the UAE's sports industry. "Our overarching ambition is to fit every golfer in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and beyond, becoming an integral part of the region's golfing land- scape," Mehta says. "Looking ahead, our vision is aligned with the global growth trajectory of golf. With mergers, acquisitions, and the increasing popularity of the sport, we see boundless potential. As a homegrown organization, we are dedicated to evolving alongside the industry, contributing to its success, and harnessing golf 's positive impact on the economy, tourism, and hospitality. The endorsement of golf by UAE's visionary leadership fuels our enthusiasm to be a part of this journey, and contribute to Dubai's standing as a global golfing hub."

Related: Leadership Redefined: Tariq Chauhan, Group CEO, EFS Facilities Services Group

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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