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Innovations drive game of golf forward

“GolfBoard is undeniably the most exciting and enjoyable way to experience any (golf) course.”

So says the website for the winner of the Best New Product at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show. The GolfBoard is either a big electric-powered skateboard or a small electric-powered surfboard with wheels. It is the brainchild of Bally Total Fitness founder Don Wildman, who wanted a fun way to play his home course in Malibu, Calif., and Laird Hamilton of championship surfing fame.

Enter Las Vegas National Golf Club executives Coy Wood, general manager, and Leo Calabro, director of golf, both of whom who attended the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., last January. Both saw the potential of the GolfBoard at their club.

Coy said, “I considered it a game changer, a chance to change the golf experience and attract new audiences.”

Working with the manufacturer, they suggested changes to the GolfBoard, including adding a fixed bag rack, eliminating the remote control and several other small tweaks. Last fall, they leased 20 units for Las Vegas National. They arrived late last year.

“So far, we are very happy with the GolfBoard,” Leo said. “We are renting eight to 10 a day with increases each month. Good things are to be added. We’re thinking about adding sand bottles, coolers, seating, an umbrella and a score card holder.” Surf’s up!

Rent is $20 for 18 holes.

Meet Jerry Wilson, a Sun City Summerlin resident and avid golfer. He loves toys and technology. Last year, he placed a deposit for the purchase of a GolfBoard.

“I found the GolfBoard surfing the Web and fell in love with it; it looked cool. I ordered it the same week. Bought it for $4,000,” he said.

Nine months later, he received his pride and joy. He called Highland Falls Golf Club and spoke with the director of golf about using his new board. The response? Sorry, Jerry. Sun City Summerlin won’t allow him to use the GolfBoard on any Golf Summerlin course. He hasn’t checked out other venues, needing a trailer to transport it.

“Right now, I’ve ridden it five or six times around the neighborhood,” he said. “Good news is that it is now selling for $6,500.” Cowabunga, Jerry!

“I think it is a great idea, something different and seems like it would be fun,” said Donny Long, director of golf at Golf Summerlin. “Jerry approached me, and I took the idea to our board of directors and executive staff. They denied the request due to liability reasons. Our courses have some extreme elevation changes, and those changes might lead to accidents. I think it would be great for flatter courses.” Makes sense to me, Donny. Wipeout!

The PGA Tour has been collecting money for charities from its tournaments for 68 years. It has contributed more than $2 billion in charitable giving. The 18 Holers, a men’s golf group in Sun City Summerlin, aims to help increase that amount. It is joining forces with Ronald McDonald House Charities in a two-day charity golf tournament set for May 8 and 9.

Tony Derhake, chairman of the event, said, “We’re at a point in our lives where we have all received so many blessings. It’s now time to give back to our local community. RMHC provides temporary housing for families who travel to Las Vegas to receive critical medical treatment for their children.”

Tony, who has coordinated golf tournaments for corporate Buick, and yes, back in the day, helped sign Tiger Woods to a Buick Corporate sponsorship deal, explained that the tournament will take place at Palm Valley Golf Course and Highland Falls Golf Club. The first day will be at Highland Falls, and the second day will be at Palm Valley. Sponsors and competitors are pouring in. “We are looking … to make this tournament a want-to-play-in special event,” he said.

It’s a two-man team event, using one best ball scoring. The entry fee is $200 per player or $400 per team.

Each golfer will receive a gift bag worth several hundred dollars, breakfast both days, an awards luncheon on May 9, a hosted beverage cart, raffle prizes and a skins game.

Sponsors and golfers, get in on all the fun. Visit 18holers.com or call the Derkake hotline at 702-240-4247.

John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at jasay@reviewjournal.com.

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