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GolfMatch expands its vision, revamps its app

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It’s fitting in a fast-paced, technology-driven age, that a company would significantly alter its vision just a year after releasing its first product.

GolfMatch, who we introduced you to last June, is doing just that.

Last month, the company launched an updated version of its original app, but the changes weren’t the minor modifications and bug fixes you find with most of these periodic alterations. Instead, GolfMatch revamped the app entirely, offering its users a far different iteration from the initial product with a significantly modified objective.

The company started its service as a way to connect like-minded golfers on courses they wished to play, dissolving the risk of a random pairing and eliminating the incompatibility and the awkwardness it could entail. And yes, facilitating these matches is still a main feature in the update, but it appears the focus has shifted a bit.

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The new version of the app is outfitted with a social feature that GolfMatch Founder and CEO Peter Kratsios describes as a mashup of Instagram and Facebook centered around golf. All users have their own profile and timeline where they can share and track their own golfing adventures, as well as a newsfeed where they can read about and view the golfing experiences shared by their counterparts.

[quote_box_center]”[With this update], we’ve allowed the app to be more content-driven,” Kratsios said. “We want to create a community that connects both on and off course, to have great experiences and then share them with a community that is passionate.”[/quote_box_center]

It’s a noble quest for Kratsios and his GolfMatch team, and they have made sure this new social feature goes a long way in fostering these deep connections among a fervent group of golfers.

The newest version of the app is available on iOS and Android devices, and in the added social setting, users can post in a variety of fashions. There are the run-of-the-mill written messages where golfers can convey their thoughts to their followers. Users can also post statuses with up to 15 photos per entry highlighting the round they played, the clubs they’ve been using or whatever else best conveys their golfing time.

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And within the past week, the app has been updated with video capability. Now users can not only share photos, but upload and post about footage of their outings. This new video feature can be shot in real time or in slow motion, an additional setting that allows golfers to put up recordings of their swings and solicit advise on their motion from the GolfMatch community around their profiles.

While this focus is somewhat different from the app’s original sole purpose of matching up golfers, they are attached in the way of fostering attractive golf connections, and ultimately the overarching mission of the app remains the same.

[quote_center]”The end goal is to connect a very fragmented community, solve fundamental problems for golfers and drive meaningful awareness to golf courses,” Kratsios said.[/quote_center]

Still, adding on a sharing-oriented feature to the product wasn’t inevitable from the start. In fact, Kraistos did not have such designs from the outset. The golfer’s initial spark for GolfMatch came about from his long-term experiences being paired up with random partners and the problems the blind match ups could create.

The GolfMatch app wasn’t exactly fledgling either as a partner matchup-only service. There were 2,000 users on the service last June, but interest seemed to be growing, especially as its Instagram followers quadrupled that number. GolfMatch also had business with golf course owners, charging a small fee for marketing campaigns to get players to their tracks. The company already had relationships with bigger corporations like Ship Sticks and PGA Tour Superstore.

As for sharing golf content, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could already serve those purposes, one would suppose. Wasn’t it a risk to stray from matchup-making as the sole focus?

Kratsios doesn’t think so.

The GolfMatch headman noted that golf is a visual sport where players tend to remember specifics of their rounds and wish to share these minute details. Sure you can post comments, photos and videos about your golfing experiences on these big social media sites, but most of your followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t golfers and subsequently don’t care about such documentation.

Users of the app also played a large role in this shift.

As with many enterprises in golf, customer feedback is paramount, and within three months of the app’s launch Kratsios was hearing from users that they wanted more. He realized a solution to the problem.

[quote_box_center]”We started hearing ‘Hey I wish I could use this app on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Days when I’m not playing golf,'” Kratsios said. “That that makes us most happy, when people are coming back to the app every day even though they may not be playing golf that day. And with this content-driven sharing approach, you could have people come to the app even if they weren’t playing on that day.”[/quote_box_center]

The GolfMatch crew got to work and tinkered for four months on the updated version that would include this social content-driven feature before it was released in early April.

In the short time of the new version of the app, Kratsios has heard plenty of positive feedback from his customers and the user numbers that had jumped to 10,000 before the launch. And since the updated app launched on iOS in the first week of April, GolfMatch has gained 2,000 new users.

And lest one thinks this all has to do with the new sharing feature from the  timelines, GolfMatch has upgraded its pairing service as well. Users can now post “Golfers Wanted” messages under the Matches tab in the app.

connect_both (1)

[quote_box_center]”People say what they’re looking for,” Kratsios said. “‘Hey I want a competitive match with single digit handicappers with any course near me.’ We then geo-target those match request posts. People from around the U.S. and Canada describe the types of golfers they are looking for and the types of rounds they want to play and what we do is target golfers within 100 miles of you that have put up play requests. So the play requests you see in the matches tab are all within 100 miles of you.”[/quote_box_center]

The product is now getting its footing on this two-pronged approach, and one might believe the company will put its full energy just into these efforts. But for Kratsios and his four other employees, GolfMatch is more than a company — and takes seriously its mission to get people’s attention to golf courses and grow the game.

Kratsios is commencing talk with golf courses about GolfMatch advertising deals at these places to users of the app. GolfMatch produces its own golf content through its website. The company has also started event promotion. Last week Kratsios was in Greensboro, N.C., for the National Collegiate Club Golf Association National Championships. He created an NCCGA user account on GolfMatch and put up a post with 10 pictures from the event twice per day to raise awareness.

But possibly the coolest feature is yet to come.

GolfMatch has a PGA tour Brand Ambassador team compromised of three pros: Padraig Harrington, John Senden and Andrew Svoboda. The trio joined the program to become more engaged with the people that watch them, Kratsios said, and all three have committed to playing a round with a GolfMatch user once per year at the pro’s home course. That’s right, one lucky GolfMatch user will get to play with John Senden at Olympic, Andrew Svoboda at the Bears’ Club and Padraig Harrington at a course to be named.

Kratsios expects these rounds to take place over the summer and the criteria for being a candidate for a spot is simple.

[quote_box_center]”It’ll be randomly selected with who will get to play with them,” Kratsios said. “We’re literally going to take three random GolfMatch users. It’s not going to be anything beside users who have posted on our newsfeed this year. Anyone who’s engaged with the app and has posted on a newsfeed is eligible to play with a pro. For these outings with the pros, we would pay for airfare, the hotel and the round.”[/quote_box_center]

The idea is for the program to grow rapidly, and Kratsios hopes to have 10 total pros committed to this opportunity in the next three months. It’s an ambitious goal, but why not aim high for a company that has dipped its foot in so many different avenues?

After all, in addition to everything else, GolfMatch is in talks with the largest golf publications about potentially pushing additional content through the app and the company is targeting the biggest manufacturers to help promote new products to the user audience. But even with that caveat, Kratsios’s vision for GolfMatch numbers is his most ambitious quest yet.

[quote_box_center]”Our goal is to get to 1 million users,” Kratsios said.[/quote_box_center]

Much ink has been spilled over the decline of golf in America. Well, if a golf app can indeed get 1 million dedicated players to come together, maybe the game won’t be in too much trouble after all.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Peter Heard

    May 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I’ve been enjoying the app for sometime now and spreading the word for others to join. Have been able to leave some cards at a few courses.
    I enjoy seeing the pics from different parts of the country as fellow golfers enjoy this great game. Since I have joined, you have continued to make improvements, which makes sense as more members join and feedback comes in. Adding video was an outstanding feature, as well as the pro news feeds. What I can see as a need, is that more and more members join, allowing everyone to see all posts could become difficult. One will never be able to keep up. Privacy features would be good. Allowing users to see only posts from only those members they follow and again having one’s own posts available to followers if one wishes. Similar to Instagram. As I’ve left cards at golf courses, I’ve encouraged the workers in the pro shop to create a profile for their course to post news specific to their course. Even special deals and such. Having a database of participating courses that offer deals for App members would be great. A feature similar to golfnow that allows users to actually book tee times thru the app might be cool or even a link to golfnow in the app. Also, I participate in a virtual golf club with my buddies. We play weekly at different courses in a season long tournament. We use Gamebook to set up games that allow players to be connected WHILE they play in live time even at different courses. You can talk smack, see scoring, get updates: “Pete had a birdie!”, while on the course. Such a feature would really make Golfmatch a one stop app.

  2. Ringworld

    May 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Peter. Good Luck in your endeavors. The interface is nice albeit short on certain features such as editing a post. But then again a lot of these minor inconveniences should be ironed out over time. Where are the adverts? How can you monetize the model if there doesn’t to be an outlet to shill your wares? It was mentioned that you had partnered with companies like the PGA Superstore and Ship Sticks how do you intend to monetize if you opt out of the notifications? Just some thoughts that came across as I was discussing your app with some other golfers.

  3. Mix

    May 6, 2015 at 2:12 am

    I just downloaded the app, looks awesome, easy to navigate, and worthwhile although I wish there was someway to narrow the feed down to the specific state and/or city. To get a better idea of what is going on where I live. Can’t wait to put it to use and see what happens.

  4. Connor

    May 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Seems interesting, I am going to download it now!

  5. Peter Kratsios

    May 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Bobby,

    As the Founder of GolfMatch, I appreciate your reading the article and replying. That being said, I would love to know a little bit more about your thoughts on our product other than simply, “seems stupid.”

    Our goal is to provide a product to golfers that helps alleviate the reasons why they don’t play as much, as well as for people who are hesitant to get out the first time. We have received amazing feedback from our early adopters and will continue to build out our product to create a better and better offering. By creating a passionate community of golfers, and building out the user-base,our product will provide greater value to our users in each region. This is one of many reason why being written about on GolfWRX is such an incredible opportunity for us as a company.

    I look forward to hearing back from you

    Best,

    Peter

  6. Bobby

    May 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Seems stupid.

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Driver: Srixon ZX5 (9.5 degrees)
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Ball: Srixon Z Star Prototype

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It’s that time of year again, GolfWRX members, the moment we start filling our wish lists with the golf gear we want this holiday season.

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