Crowdsourced Caddies and the Sports Tech Future of Golf

The Caddio app is a first to market, caddie like user experience that uses crowdsourcing technology to assist golfers lower scores by providing local details about golf courses.
The Caddio app is a first to market, caddie like user experience that uses crowdsourcing technology to assist golfers lower scores by providing local details about golf courses.

Crowdsourced Caddies and the Sports Tech Future of Golf

Has golf peaked or is sports tech to the rescue of a fun and rewarding sport that requires patience, passion and a skill set unlike any other sport that takes on average 4.5 hour to complete the golfer experience. Tiger Woods is back chasing the 18 professional majors won by Jack Nicklaus, tablet tech is showing up on courses, and the First Tee is shining a light to help American kids understand how golf and life are seamless opportunities to “rise up” as they say here in Atlanta.

Several sports technology products gaining popularity are Digital Caddies, Caddio, and the Garmin golf watch. Social media is another tool helping golf regain its swagger with the public, both young and old, especially the support Rory McIIroy received after winning the 2014 British Open Championship, while leading up to the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Course that began today. These new digital technologies are layering sophisticated analytics and insights over the green, changing the way golf is played and helping the providers and end users maximum efficiency with performance, marketing and business. All while using technology to bring golf to a younger generation and make it more accessible.

Golf Sports Tech
The era of getting caught by an unexpected water hazard or sand trap may soon be behind us, as golfers begin to harness the wisdom of crowds to gain a competitive advantage on the golf course. Caddio uses crowdsourcing to provide detailing knowledge, descriptions, and expert-to-amateur tips from other golfers to give players expertise on every hole for 30,000 courses around the world.

On the operator’s side, golf courses are now introducing new table based platforms, like Digital Caddies, that connect golfers to the Web to enhance experience, build loyalty, and reduce operating costs. These digitally supported golf outings are becoming a popular option, and it may soon to unthinkable to hit the links without a tablet device as part of the experience. Digital tools like these help course managers cater to specific audiences while combating higher maintenance costs resulting from changing global weather resulting in more floods, super storms and soaring temperatures.

Garmin's slimmest, lightest GPS golf watch with first-of-its-kind swing metrics built in.
Garmin’s slimmest, lightest GPS golf watch with first-of-its-kind swing metrics built in.

The Garmin Approach Series watches are well-built, waterproof and highly accurate GPS golfing devices preloaded with several thousand golf courses. Each fashionable watch features exact distances golfer’s need to hit to put the ball on the front, back and middle of the green. It serves as a digital personal scorecard and will measure shot distance much like a range finder.

Are these tools and platforms improving gofer performance, or is the old fashioned tech free course a more enriching place? One place to start is to look at golf big data and the high-end and low-end golfers, in this case, real estate magnet and golf course builder, Donald Trump, and the “The Future Foursome” who hail from the First Tee of San Francisco.

Golf Data
The question all golfers, fans and sponsors want to know is whether the sport in on the decline or is it “great” as Donald Trump said in a interview. “Golf is an amazing place for business,” said Trump.

According to MRI Doublebase 2013, the affluent decision maker’s audience are 141x more likely to be a techno-enthusiast. They are 22x more likely to make a personal purchase with a credit card and 78x more likely to do so for business purchases. Their data indicated 25 percent of all $1 million dollar plus business decision were made by golfers. Finally, these active golfers are 51x more likely to spend more than $50k on a car, and 42x more likely to own a luxury car.

Crowdsourced Caddies and the Sports Tech Future of Golf - Sports Techie blog
Crowdsourced Caddies and the Sports Tech Future of Golf – Sports Techie blog

Digital Caddies
Once the affluent decision maker leaves the office, they are happy, relaxed and ready to spend on new equipment, at resort restaurants and Pro Shops. Digital Caddies audience index includes executives in financial, investment and alcohol, and business and vacation travel, who are serviced by the app as their caddie, concierge and course marshal. Golfer relevant content displayed on HD tablet screens promotes interaction amongst golfers and the mobile device used during rounds allows golf course operators and marketers to engage directly with their targeted audience.

Digital Caddies was founded in 2003, and is a publicly traded company: CADY. They created a low cost, easy-to-implement and use GPS golf system in the fast-growing, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Industry. The sports tech company provides their free GPS technology solution to customers and qualifying course. It provides wireless connectivity and tablet technology installed on golf carts to hundreds of links across the country. Their GPS-based course navigation system also provides aerial fairway and green views while offering precise yardage. They can be used at more than 7,500 interactive screens installed on over 100 golf courses, in major markets nationwide.

Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC shared last year that Sprint is the exclusive data provider and Samsung will supply the Galaxy Tab® 2 10.1 for the Digital Caddies Player’s Network. Digital Caddies installed The Player’s Network last summer on proactive courses in Arizona, California and Florida who are now wirelessly connected to the Web via Sprint’s nationwide 3G network. Digital Caddies #theplayersnetwork content is showcased on the tablet’s 10.1-inch touchscreen display which is powered by am Intel 1.5GHz dual-core processor.

“Sprint is delighted to support this innovative value proposition from Digital Caddies,” said Kimberly Green-Kerr, regional vice president, Sprint. “By extending the connected vehicle to golf, they’re adding yet another dimension to how we work and how we play. The Player’s Network brings many of the same mobile features to the fairways that Sprint enables in automobiles and commercial fleets on the roadways.”

They also signed deals with top golf management companies Troon Golf Management, OB Sports and National Golf Management who together manage 250+ courses. The company recently announced becoming a member of the digital media industry’s leading trade association, DPAA. The association consists of the largest digital out of home networks.

Providing video and graphics interaction with carts, at all times, from an Internet enabled device, both desktops or tablets, is a novel approach Digital Caddies has of reaching the end user in a new way. I especially like the feature that allows management the ability to define geo-boundaries to help protect sensitive areas of your course. You can use their proprietary course management tools to breakdown the identify of every golf cart in real time which opens up new data sets and resulting analytics about car inventory, cart travel, and rider patterns, plus enabling a more efficient management of pace of play and maintenance planning. New business opportunities are now available to drive clubhouse merchandise and concession sales using real-time promotions, all helping to increase guest loyalty. Digital Caddies can save resorts upwards of $75,000 annually while catering to an audience that is 74% male, 25-64 years old and has high net worth.

  • Accurate GPS Distance measuring
  • Food and Beverage Ordering
  • Promotional Sales offers
  • Contest Participation
  • Digital Scorecard
  • Cart-to-cart Messaging

Digital Caddies Inc., Sizzle Reel

Golf Status
Technology is the new savior for sports. The NFL, MLB and now golf have turned to integrating sports tech into the game to help reverse the trend of kids not learning how to play, changing back men who no longer play or watch golf on TV any longer, while increasing the number of women and elderly players.

The data in support of golfs’ decline are staggering yet Trump states otherwise. Dick’s Sporting Goods terminated 478 Professional Golfers’ Association teaching professionals in July, after the sales of golf gear continued to spiral downward, according to ESPN. The PGA is comprised of 27,000 men and women golf experts.

The Star Tribune says, golf courses are closing at a rate 100+ per year because of what the NY Times said is the sad confluence of economic, social, technological and weather factors. From 1990 to 2005, over 3,200 courses were launched, a large percentage were attached to Sun Belt housing complexes. When the market turned downward in 2007 to 2012 during the U.S. housing crisis, golf courses followed suit. The fact that golfers are aging fast while courses are built to be easier and shorter for them has had little impact changing the tide.

Could it be the decline in golfers is a direct result of the shrinking U.S. middle class? According to Forbes, and numbers provided by the National Golf Foundation and Bloomberg, this might be somewhat true. As Trump stated, 5 million golfers are expected to vanish over the next five years, grim figures even if taken somewhat out of context.

What can help change the status quo besides building lavish courses at Turnberry and Dubai for the PGA Tour players and high-end income gainers? No doubt about it, digital golf sport tech and programs like the First Tee that brings golf to kids in the middle class and lower class, and to teenagers of all background; impacting, influencing, and inspiring, big-city kids and rural communities alike.

The First Tee has reached more than 9 million young people
The First Tee has reached more than 9 million young people

The First Tee
Beginning in 1997, the LGPA, Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and USGA formed a partnership with the help of Founding Corporate Partner, Shell Oil, to lead an initiative called The First Tee. The First Tee was designed to instruct young people that otherwise would not be exposed to the game and its core positive values. Kids are taught game-changing life skills that build character with golf as the platform.

Children know how to use a tablet by the age of two and can text with smartphones before ten years old like my niece Ava does with her new iPhone so the race is on to get their attention to golf before other activities do like video games. The First Tee has steadily grown into an enriching youth service organization serving more than 9 million young folk.

The First Tee Life Skills Experience helps with academic, sport psychology and youth development while golf experts engage to teach core values and life skills as part of basic golf instruction at chapters.

The “Future Foursome” of Jonah, Malik, Kevin and Terek, began in the curriculum offered at a PE program during the fall of 2004, it transitioned to after school activities, led by First Tee South S.F. coach, Dennis Westry. As a result, the four trail blazers are bonded forever and helped to validate the program as a clear winner. They are now paid interns at the TPC Harding Park Golf Course while The First Tee SF has grown from the original four to 15 foursomes, or 60 kids, 3 vans and two shuttles, plus several certified tutors.

The Caddio app is a first to market, caddie like user experience that uses crowdsourcing technology to assist golfers lower scores by providing local details about golf courses. Knowledge of location and hole-based “tips” are now available on your portable tablet and smartphone screens thanks to sharing of course and hole “best practice” provided by fellow golfers who are more familiar on how to better play the local 9-hole or 18-hole courses. Sign in easily with your Facebook, Google or Caddio accounts.

The definition of crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining ideas, content or funding from contributions of a large group or personally connected people. Caddio gathers local know-how into its database enabling you to find recommendations on how to lower handicaps and improve scores, all for free using GPS and location based tech on your smartphone.

Each course and hole has unique lays, whether that is navigating around large trees, tricky water hazards or sand traps. Perhaps one of the greens has contour you cannot read very well, before your round or shot read about the green tips and then go nail a one-putt. Maybe a tough fade, hook or slice is preventing a par, to fix these simply open up Caddio and see what shot advice works best on the Local Knowledge Social Stream. Need help selecting the right driver, iron or putter on the first hole or during the back nine, Caddio is your ticket to success.

The app categorizes and stores the swing keys you find most useful for a private coaching session. The application will also remind you of proven keys to success just like a professional caddie. Real-time filtering can do done via date, proximity or other user profiles, as well as by hashtags, so if you only want a club pros savvy tip, Caddio delivers. The search icon at the upper right allows you to search for courses by name or location then use the + icon to save your favorite courses.

A star-based rating system gives you the control to filter out less valuable tips. You can qualify for special offers from favorite golf manufacturers. Post your own tip and photo by clicking the add tip icon located at the bottom of the screens. Tips can be uploaded to Facebook and Twitter to share the knowledge with your friends and followers, and to help to grow the user base.

Caddio addresses each issue saving you from high scores, lost balls and embarrassing mistakes. Improved performance with the Caddio app is the exact kinds of tech the Sports Techie community will love to have at your disposal.

Golf and Social Media in 2014 are helping to grow the sport all over the world.
Golf and Social Media in 2014 are helping to grow the sport all over the world.

Social Media and the New Idol
Golf and Social Media in 2014 are helping to grow the sport all over the world. The National Golf Day Twitter campaign (hashtag #NGD14) collected 16 million impressions compared to 7.2 million in 2013. This data breaks down to 7.2 million unique Twitter and Facebook accounts. On May 21st, an astonishing 787,000 Twitter accounts participated in a one-hour time-frame on May 21.

One of the new shining lights on the PGA Tour is 25-year old Rory McIIroy who just won the Open. McIIroy joins Tiger and Jack as one of three golfers only to win three majors by the age of 25, and Twitter was alive with praise.

Only five players have ever won the complete Grand Slam and all Rory needs to do is win at Augusta here in Georgia to light up social media and golf again for both young and old fans, and help bring back golf to the masses just like Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen, and Nicklaus and Woods, have all done for their generation.

I expect Nike and EA Sports are both creating new Rory endorsed digital golf goods for you to use on your smartphones, especially if he wins the 2014 #PGAChamp.

See y’all later here in Atlanta.

I will see ya when I see ya, THE Sports Techie @THESportsTechie –

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One response to “Crowdsourced Caddies and the Sports Tech Future of Golf”

  1. […] to the Butch Harmon School of Golf, Jeff Ritter Golf and Bill Harmon. Partners also include, The First Tee and Make The Turn. Company advisors include Mike Malaska, (Worldwide Director of Jack Nicklaus […]