Innovation: online web platform and tools for golf game
Golf is known for being a frustrating sport. Sometimes the frustrations begin even before getting to the tee box. That's what Brian Wroblewski and his business partners wanted to solve when they created GolfPipeline, an online web platform designed to give golfers some modern tools for their golf game.
"We really wanted to provide golfers with the single best source to manage a golf game," said Brian Wroblewski, president of GolfPipeline. "Our web platform combines the best parts of the most popular consumer websites and allows avid golfers to reserve tee times, invite players, and even track their golf scores from a single source."
"The website is designed in a way that allows the golfer to use as many or as little of the tools as they feel comfortable with," he said. "We've taken similar components that websites like Facebook, Open Table and Travelocity have and applied them to a golf environment."
Users can set up profile accounts on Golfpipeline.com where they can input their golf information and then reserve tee times at GolfPipeline member courses, Wroblewski said.
The site is designed so users can locate any golf course within a defined geographic area, search available tee times (at member courses) or search for favorite courses.
"We have approximately 20 member courses in Wisconsin right now, and that number is growing every day," he said.
According to Wroblewski, one frustration GolfPipeline seeks to address is the hassle of calling multiple courses in search of available tee times for foursomes or multiple groups of people.
The web platform allows a golfer to indicate how many holes they'd like to play, with how many people, and what window of time they'd like to schedule a tee time in, Wroblewski said.
"Once they've defined those parameters, GolfPipeline will aggregate all available data from golf courses in the area that have available tee times that fit the criteria. Golfers will be able to select the course and schedule other foursomes around that tee time if they want to do larger groups or an event."
The web platform links directly with the golf course's reservation software, he said.
Golfers are able to reserve their tee times, and cancel them all directly from GolfPipeline. No credit card information is exchanged. The golfers pay once they get to the course.
There are only 12 different types of software that courses use for scheduling, Wroblewski said.
GolfPipeline is already built to seamlessly function with the two most popular ones.
"As soon as a course signs a contract with us we can have them live on the website within one day," Wroblewski said.
If a course is not currently a member of GolfPipeline, users can "suggest" the course be added to the site by a simple click of a button.
Membership to GolfPipeline is free for golfers and for courses. GolfPipeline secures a percentage of the money the course charges for the tee time if it's booked through the web platform, Wroblewski said.
"We receive 5 percent of the reservation cost if it's a peak tee time and 15 percent of the reservation fee if it's an off peak time," Wroblewski said. "We let the course determine peak and off peak times as well as their booking prices. If a reservation is never booked through GolfPipeline it's just free advertising for the course."
Wroblewski hopes to reach 250 courses by the end of 2012 and initially plans to expand throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest.
In addition to the convenience the platform offers in booking tee times, it also allows golfers to invite multiple people to golf events.
"Another frustration we had prior to GolfPipeline pertained to not knowing when a game was happening. We'd hear about it later and then wonder why we didn't get called," he said. "GolfPipeline allows a golfer to create a golf event at a specific course with a specific tee time and invite as many people as they'd like."
Everyone will receive a notification that they've been invited to play at a certain course, at a certain time, and the first three golfers to accept get placed in.
"Once the event is full, a second email will go out saying the event has been filled and that they can still book additional foursomes at the same course if they'd like to," Wroblewski said.
Users can even invite people or add placeholders to the game for people who aren't users of the web platform and aren't interested in signing up.
In addition, the web platform also allows users to keep track of their golf scores over an entire season and link directly to their USGA golf handicap. Users can set up golf profiles with as little or as much information as they want and even keep track of GolfPipeline friends and their games and scores.
"We've tried to make it as user-friendly as possible," Wroblewski said. "It's really about alleviating some of the frustrations of the game and giving golfers some modern tools for their golf game."