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Golf Getaway builds momentum

(Photo: Bruce Young)
New Zealander, but now Australian based, Andrew McCombe, has been able to do what several have attempted but struggled to achieve in the Australian golfing industry, namely to get a golf show to air on a commercial network.

McCombe's Golf Getaway TV show, which airs on Network Ten's digital channel, 'One', has morphed itself into a golf show which now contains more than just the two hosts who were initially involved and into a magazine style programme.

Although the format of the show still involves visiting golf courses around the country and, eventually, elsewhere, McCombe realised the need to shift the focus from he and his former co"“host and more on the actual content and the guests he was involving and the show is now building momentum.

"December 2012 was when we first started with the original intention that it would be an internet show. A lot of my background has involved the internet and marketing associated with it and I felt there was an opportunity to have a show tailor made for the web. We shot about 14 shows to start with but it soon became obvious that I needed to try and get it to the networks.

"I think a significant moment for me was when we put together a show up at Hamilton Island where we had invited Craig Parry to come along," said McCombe during a recent visit to the Gold Coast.

"That experience, along with my own background in personal development and utilising the skills of others made me realise that involving experts in their fields was the way ahead for the show rather than the emphasis being on those of us who were hosting the show.

"With the original format, there was perhaps too much of the same and now I will interview guests and share a wider variety of content along with highlighting golf courses where the golf course is the star rather than the hosts."

There were occasions that the hosts' lack of golfing expertise became evident, especially when the show revolved around them, and hence the need for change to give it more polish and credibility in order to appeal to a wider audience.

While it was a realisation he himself had come to, McCombe was made also aware by some of those he was meeting to discuss the televising of the show that change was necessary.

"An early network targeted indicated that the show's angle and format was not suitable for them and needed changing and so we listened and those changes were made."

Fox Sports, the leading cable sports network in Australia, have their own Golf Show hosted by Brett Ogle which focuses more on summarising tournament golf from the previous weekend and now also air the New Zealand produced The Golf Club and IMG's Golfing World but there was clearly an opportunity for a more magazine style show from an Australian perspective.

Fortunately for McCombe, Network Ten, even though they were winding down their involvement in the live televising of golf, saw a niche for the Show and decided to run with it.

"We first went to air during weekend of the Masters which Adam Scott won last year so we were off to a good start, given the exposure the game was getting at that very point.

"Once Network Ten had made a commitment, the whole ball game changed and now we are nearing the finalisation of an arrangement with a US Network which will potentially give us 20 million viewers there.

"Australia is, to a large extent, a finite market so in order for the show to grow we now need to have it exposed to an even wider audience so this development of being aired in the US is an exciting one.

"Much of the underpinning of the show is based on the premise of how I could get paid to play golf without being a professional. I played Beach Volleyball for New Zealand and Australia and love being involved in sport at a very high level and this show allows me to do just that.

"While the title of the show suggests it might be about going on holiday and playing golf but it is also about the amazing range of characters and stories involved in the industry that is golf and not just players. For me, therefore, as a creative person, I find I can't do the same thing over and over but in this game and industry there are just so many amazing stories. There is always something new."

McCombe, secured a Bachelor of Physical Education degree in New Zealand before moving to Australia in 1997 and eventually established three health clubs in Sydney after initially coming here with the idea of preparing for and playing Beach Volleyball at the Olympics. His businesses became almost too cumbersome and he then established an online health and fitness training programme.

"I only took up golf about three or four years ago and just fell in love with it," said McCombe describing his background in the game. "I guess my qualifications and background in consulting in the fitness industry allowed me to be able to share messages and I began to think how I might be able to combine the two passions or disciplines."

"I have a belief that if you combine your talents and your passion you create value and when that value is leveraged then things happen relatively easily," added McCombe while still fully aware of the time and work involved in getting things to this stage.

"I want to travel the world playing golf and amazing golf courses, meeting interesting people and sharing their stories. That's sums it up at a purpose level so from the content side of things it is potentially endless.

"For me I am inspired by the professionals but I would prefer to share the behind the scenes side of the game. There is plenty of exposure on the professional playing side of the game on television already.

McCombe funds the show himself but has formed a relationship with iseekgolf and other sponsors and is building the show's profile and content to a position where it becomes an even more marketable product than it now is.

"The website www.iseekgolf.com is Australia's biggest social golfing website and so is totally relevant to what we do and its parent company's recent purchase of Golf Link means they are growing quickly and the combination of the two generates a significant online audience.

"A lot of people think I am funded by the Network and am being paid to just have a good time by doing the show but when they realise I am underwriting it myself the response takes on a whole new dimension and generates additional acceptance. I have copped my share of negativity but when people realise I am a bloke with a dream having a go the attitude changes."

Golf Getaway TV's start has been slow but steady and as the audience grows and the momentum and awareness builds the opportunities are beginning to open up.

Provided the content creates interest those opportunities will continue to appear.

McCombe is determined to ensure that is the case.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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