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Need a caddie? There’s an app for that

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In his 2014 piece, “Where have all the caddies gone?” Mike Belkin wrote, “As I breezed through a quick round this past Saturday morning at Putterham Meadow, a muni just outside of Boston, the thought occurred to me that I might actually want a caddy. And I’m not talking about a lifer, but a local middle or high-school-kid…”

Well, Mike, now you can. Thanks to the new Uber-like app, Looper, golfers can get linked up with an on-demand caddie in general, and a “local middle or high-school kid” (Jr-Looper) in particular.

In line with Mike’s perspective, Dave Cavossa, co-founder of Looper, spelled out the caddie situation in his area.

“If I want to take a caddie today—I live in northern Virginia—I’ve got two options: I can join Trump National and spend $100,000 joining, or I can join RTJ and spend $100,000. I don’t have another option. Those are it. And every time I want a caddie, it’s $150, plus experience. What Grant and I have done is take that down to no membership, or low membership…and the entry price point is $30.”

To learn more about how Looper works, and how the app has fared in its six months since launch, I spoke with Dave and his co-founders Grant Creighton.

looper screen shot

How did Looper get started, and what’s the idea behind the app?

Grant: I was a professional golfer…I caddied to supplement my income for six years…I was getting out of professional golf and put together the idea that a mobile app like Uber could manage scheduling and payment for caddies and communication between caddie masters and caddies. About a year ago, I met Dave at the PGA Show who was also of the same mindset. We were both…working on this concept, so we decided to put our minds together…and we’ve been collaborating ever since. Our main objective is build a network where golfers can find caddies and caddies can find work and grow the caddie trade and grow the game of golf by including junior loopers.

Dave: We launched Looper in the mid-Atlantic back in April. We have 22 courses in the market and over 500 caddies.

Great. Tell me more about how it works.

Dave: Well, we want to bring caddies back to the game of golf. We know that the way to bring caddies back to the 95 percent of courses that don’t have caddie programs is to make it free for them. We actually pay the golf course…golf courses can’t believe when we say, “Not only do you not pay a dime, but we pay you.”…We give them a small revenue share of every loop done at their course. We want to give every golfer at every course the option of taking a caddie again. The key word there is option. When you’re at a typical golf course, you can walk, you can take a cart, or you can take a pull cart.

How do you assemble a roster of caddies in a new area? 

Dave: You go out to recruit hundreds and hundreds caddies…mostly teenagers…some college…some part-time…some retirees…you let them caddie at multiple courses in a region on their schedules when they want to…in addition to the fees that caddies are getting, they’re also getting to play free golf at these courses…about 70 percent of our caddies are teens…30 percent are part-time workers…Now we’re starting our national expansion…we got funded this year. We launch in San Diego over the next three months…We’re partnered with the First Tee of West Palm Beach, and we’re launching there in November. And we’re trying to launch in the Detroit and Philadelphia areas in April, and then we’re expanding further on the east coast as well.

I understand that you’re targeting private courses without caddie programs, high-end daily fee courses, and more low-end daily fee tracks. Tell me about some of the headwinds you’re meeting in that pursuit.

Dave: The biggest problem that Grant and I have every day…is the behavior change, and the perception change. When people hear “caddies,” they think “expensive” or they think, “I’m not good enough to take a caddie.”

And if a course says, “My customers don’t want caddies, they want to take a golf cart.” We push back…with, “Have you ever offered them caddies?” It took 60 years [to get to this point]. When golf carts were first introduced in the ’50s and ’60s, people didn’t like them at all.

We don’t think that we’re going to change the world in a day, but we do think with our three-year plan we’re going to change behavior and change perceptions. People want to get out and walk. They want the 10 to 15 thousand steps. They want to burn 2,000 calories.

There’s a portion of the golf community…we call them “would walkers.” Ten to 20 percent of the golf community. Somebody who would happily walk, but they don’t want to carry their bag [or take a pull cart]. But if you give them the option of an inexpensive caddie—our entry price point is $29, slightly more expensive than a golf cart—they’re going to try it. And they’ll say, “Let’s bring caddies back. Let’s grow the game. Let’s get teens caddying again.” It’ll introduce the game to kids who wouldn’t have had a chance to play otherwise…couldn’t afford it.

Looper Logo

The Looper icon in Google Play and App Store.

Regarding what the company offers consumers, Dave indicated that Looper delivers value to caddies, golfers, and courses.

  • Caddies: No longer do they have to sit on a bench at 6 a.m. and wait around for three hours and maybe get out. Who they’re working for. Where they’re working. When they’re working. Paid in direct deposit the day of. Tipped in cash. Free golf.  
  • Golfers/Customers: If I’m at a course that doesn’t have a caddie program, I can take a caddie. Same caddie again and again.  
  • Courses: Free. No program to set up. No caddie check. No recruiting, training, certifying, scheduling. No liability, insurance issues.

To learn more about how the app works for golfers and caddies, check out the aptly titled “How it works” page on Looper’s website.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. TeeUpOne

    Oct 30, 2016 at 2:19 am

    I’m extremely excited to have come across the article and can’t wait to actually be able to use the service. Looper just added our course a few weeks ago. The thought that I will be able to book a caddie at my club or one of the premier clubs that I often play rather than ride and actually enjoy the round is spectacular. For me, the best experiences have always been with a caddie on my bag or caddying for my grandfather over 30years ago when I was learning the game myself and caddies were still a big part of the game. I’m also very impressed with someone taking a great idea and making it even better by including the youths of today instead of just going after experienced caddies. Not only does it make it more affordable for those not looking for a Pro type Caddy but just someone to carry the bag, rake a bunker here and there, clean the clubs and tend the flag. For the youths (h.s schoolers/ students and recent grads) and young professionals that do take part, well they are learning possibly a new sport, staying a part of one, making new contacts and will just have a overall learning experience that they sure can’t get from sitting in front of a game system. Earning money by working hard and best of all…free golf or at least when I caddied back in the day we got to play. I probably play 20-30 rounds a year with clients and to now be able to take them out with a caddie to not always be stopping and starting in a cart but to really enjoy the course, our surroundings and have one another’s attention is priceless. Is it for everyone…..absolutely not but for everyone to have the option is fantastic in my opinion. Well done Looper and again I look forward to using your service soon. ????????

  2. Ms

    Oct 27, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Whoa whoa whoa. There is a MASSIVE difference between a real Caddy, and just a looper who carries the bag and not do any of the reads or advises on shots – the looper just needs to wash the clubs and fix divots and keep his mouth shut the other times. So instead of a walker having to push or pull cart or carry his own bag (oh the horror! haha), or rent an expensive cart, he can just have some kid carry his bag for him so he can have a nice walk on the course. Nothing wrong wit that

  3. TheCityGame

    Oct 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Problems with this. . .

    1) This $29 seems like a real come-on. The website itself says for a junior looper, it’s $40 plus tip, so what. . .you’re talking $60?

    2) Even if it WERE $29, now you’re asking me to play this $90 course with a $30 bag carrier or I can go play a $120 course that might be a better course.

    I guess looper did their market research, but it seems like most people don’t care about caddies. For one, I’ve had more negative experiences with caddies in my life than positive ones. And two, the positive ones weren’t really positive at all. Show me a weekend golfer that really benefits from a caddy’s read, or needs a good line off the tee on a course in his regular rotation.

    If you’re into caddies, you probably already belong to a course that has them. I just don’t get it.

    In a related issue, most courses just don’t treat walkers fairly. There’s no reason that a walkable course shouldn’t have $X for walking, $X+$Y for cart, and then give me the option of $X+$Z for a caddy.

    • dave

      Oct 27, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Oops, forgot to update the website with our new pricing for 2017! http://www.looper.golf/caddies/

      • SemiPro

        Oct 27, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        No one cares bro
        You guys are in a garbage market

        • Noonan

          Oct 27, 2016 at 11:47 pm

          You do realize the Washington, DC metro area is a Top 10 golf market in the U.S. as measured by total number of golfers…

    • Dave

      Oct 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      I think its a little…crazy…that their $29 rate is for 14-18 year old juniors. There are at least 8-10 courses on that list that would be an absolutely brutal haul for an adult let alone a 14 year old kid. They might have done their market research on the program itself but I really question their choice of courses and wonder how much research they did in that regard.

      • KK

        Oct 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        14-18 year olds have a ton of energy. They’ll survive.

        • Dave

          Oct 28, 2016 at 6:43 am

          Just curious, have you actually seen or played some of these courses? Augustine, Raspberry and Old Hickory are completely unwalkable. Old Hickory has several 1/4 + mile transitions between holes – how are they going to handle that? You could easily see a group getting way, way out of position after just a few holes.

  4. SemiPro

    Oct 27, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    These “looper” guys are a flop, check out this up and coming company from Texas. loopgolf.com

    • EAZ

      Oct 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      LOL! This “up and coming” “company” isn’t even up and RUNNING.

      • SemiPro

        Oct 27, 2016 at 10:59 pm

        That’s why it’s up and coming not already here genius

        • EAZ

          Oct 27, 2016 at 11:27 pm

          Generally speaking, an up and coming company has more than just a website…e.g. a working product or at least a beta. Otherwise it’s just an idea. Regardless, best of luck to them getting off the ground.

  5. Dave

    Oct 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    One problem with this whole system is that you are hiring teenagers and part timers who – chances are – will barely be familiar with each course if they are caddying at 6-8 courses. The nice thing about a caddy program at an established course is that they have worked there for years and are familiar with the layout and the greens. If you want to just pay a kid to schlep your bag I guess thats fine though.

    But the bigger issue in the DMV is that a lot of these courses simply werent built for walking. Caddying at Worthington Manor sounds…insane to be honest. Same for Bull Run and Raspberry and Old Hickory. Theses courses all have *several* green>tee transitions that just dont make sense to walk.

    I applaud the effort but I think its really more applicable to the older private clubs in the area that might be much more compact and conducive to walking.

    • Jack

      Oct 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      @Dave, I think you’re taking the idea way too seriously. The benefit of Looper and another caddie app, ClubUp, isn’t to get a senior-level, experienced caddie to give you advice and read the greens. It’s to have someone there to carry your bag so you can walk without pushing a cart or carrying. Other benefits are things like giving a First Tee kid an opportunity to be around the game and earn some cash, give others opportunities to make money on their own schedules and provide an alternative service for those who want to get some exercise instead of cruising around in a golf car.

      As an aside, I have played all of the Northern VA courses you mentioned. If you’re not carrying a golf bag, can you not handle walking up a few hills?

      • Dave

        Oct 28, 2016 at 9:07 am

        The point isnt walking – thats fine. The point is that several of those courses simply werent *built* for walking. The distance between the 1st green and 2nd tee at Old Hickory is over 1/4 mile. 3rd to 4th tee is the same coming back. 4th to 5th tee – long walk, close to 1/4 mile. 8th to 9th tee – about the same. 9th green to 10th tee – over 1/4 mile. At a course that packs 9 minute tee times you could be two holes behind after the front nine – just from walking.

        Its not “you should walk instead of ride” – I agree, I walk all the time. Its that a lot of these courses from a *layout* perspective are not built for walking. Thats why I said they should probably concentrate on some of the older private courses in the area that are much, much easier to walk.

        • Chubbs

          Oct 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm

          Of course there are going to be courses where the layouts are more or less conducive to walking. The courses that are tough to walk will probably see less use. That’s just reality. But, I think the point is to give golfers the OPTION of taking the caddie. Or maybe the golfer wants the challenge and more steps.

          In terms of Worthington Manor, they hold U.S. Open qualifiers there…do those guys get to ride? Don’t think so. What about when the USGA held the Public Links (RIP) Championship at Laurel Hill a few years ago…yep, they walked too. Bet they all wished they had caddies to do nothing more than carry their bags.

          As for pace of play, there are many more factors (as researched by USGA and others) than just walking vs. riding. Green speeds, quality of golfer, playing ready golf, the time of day, and length of the course just to name a few.

        • dave

          Oct 31, 2016 at 9:39 am

          All good points. At LOOPER we focus on Forecaddies for “hard to walk” courses. That way everyone wins. Side note, we walked Raspberry and Worthington and 4:15min. 17,000 steps, 40 flights of stairs, about 8miles. I slept well those nights!

  6. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

    The Uber of caddies. This is great. When I take a caddy I love the fact that I get to wander about, no encumbrances, while my buddies are slaving over their shots. It becomes a stroll in the park. As an aside, if you ever play Pebble Beach DO NOT take a power cart. All the cart paths are on opposite side of the fairways from the cliffs. To make sure of the best vistas, while walking, hit that power fade down the right side of most holes. Take a cart and you might as well have played your local muni.

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“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods

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What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential

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What stops serious golfers from realizing their potential? If you are an amateur who wants to get better, a young player trying to achieve more, or a young professional with big dreams, this article is for you.

I’ve made a career out of helping athletes maximize their abilities, golfers in particular. And the things I see young playing professionals doing prior to our work together is often what is holding them back. The reality is that most young players, no matter what their level, have three key problems:

  1. They’re distracted by what’s not important
  2. They have no detailed structure and plan to reach the targets they determine are important to them
  3. They have no formal process to develop mindset and attitude

In the list below, I share what I see working with these young players and some common blind spots.

1. No real plan and steps to achieve targets

Most players do not know how to create a long-term and short-term plan that outlines all steps needed to reach targets. Players should have yearly plans with targets, steps and actions and weekly plans to organize/schedule their time and prioritize key needs.

2. Not focused enough on the object of the game

This goes hand in hand with No. 1. Surprisingly, players seem to forget that the object of the game is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. Trophies and checks are not issued for the best swing, the best putting stroke or most balls hit.

3. Not enough pressure in practice

Most young players have loose practice. The intensity of feelings between the practice tee and the course are too different. Focus and intensity must be a part of all practice. Add competition and outcomes to sessions so some urgency is created.

4. Too much practice time on full swing

The data is clear — most shots in golf happen from 100 yards and in from the green. If the majority of practice time is not spent on these shorter shots, practice time is wasted.

5. An obsession with the look of the swing

Players are not generally prepared to own their own swings and embrace the differences that make them unique. Obsessing over swing mechanics is a major distraction for many players. Many players convince themselves that if it doesn’t look “good” on their iPhone, their swing won’t get results.

6. No structure with the driver

Since scoring is the main goal, a consistent, reliable shape to each shot is important. My experience has been that if players are trying to go both ways with the driver, that is a sure-fire way to elevate numbers on the card. Pick a shape and eliminate one side of the course. Predictability from the tee increases a player’s confidence to put the ball in the fairway more often, creating more opportunities to score.

7. Expectation that they will hit the ball well everyday

Many players have the unreasonable expectation that they will hit lots of fairways and greens every time they play. This expectation leads to constant disappointment in their game. Knowing that the leading professionals in the game average about 60.6 percent driving accuracy and 11.8 greens in regulation per round should be a good benchmark for the expectations of all players.

8. Trying to be too robotic and precise in putting

Some players get so caught up in the mechanics of putting that their approach becomes too robotic. They become obsessed with precision and being perfect. Feel, flow and instinct have to be a central part of putting. This can get lost in an overly robotic mindset trying to be too precise and perfect.

9. No process for assessment and reflection

Players do not have a formal process for assessing practice or rounds and reflecting on the experience. The right lessons are not consistently taken away to ensure step-by-step improvement. Knowing how to assess practice, play and ask the right questions is key to development.

10. Getting in their own way

The voice inside of most young players’ heads is not helpful for their performance. It’s often a negative, demanding voice that insists on perfection. This voice leads to hesitation, frustration and anger. The voice must be shaped (with practice) into the right “emotional caddie” to support efforts and promote excellence over perfection.

11. A focus on the negative before the positive

A default to the mistakes/flaws in the round before looking at the highlights and what worked. When asked about their round, most players highlight three-putts, penalty shots and any errors before anything else. Emphasis should always be on what went well first. Refection on what needs improvement is second.

12. The blame game

Young players love excuses. Course conditions, weather, coaching and equipment are a few of the areas that are often targets, deflecting responsibility away from the player. Many players do not take full responsibility for their own game and/or careers.

I hope this provides some insights on roadblocks that could get in your way on the path to reaching your targets in the game. Whether it’s lowering your handicap, winning a junior tournament, working toward the PGA Tour — or just general improvement — considering these observations might help you shorten the road to get there.

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