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.
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.
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.
[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.
Wells Fargo Championship Tour Truck Report: Rory’s new (old) irons, Bryson’s proto 2-wood, Jason Day is SIK
The tour trucks rolled into North Carolina this week for the Wells Fargo Championship. With the second major of the season — the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course — just two weeks away, players are keen to fine tune (if things are going well) or find answers (if things are going…less well).
For example, searching for answers and 98th in strokes gained: putting, Jason Day was spotted grinding away on a Quail Hollow putting green with a SIK Flo C-Series putter in hand and an EyeLine Mirror at his feet. The long-time TaylorMade Spider devotee was acclimating himself to the flatstick’s unique Descending Loft Technology.
If you’re unfamiliar, the company describes the tech as follows
“We have four flat surfaces that are milled into our putter face. Each plane descends in loft by 1° from the top of the face to the bottom of the face. When your shaft is pressed at impact the ball contact will be higher on the face, same is true in reverse. DLT delivers consistent launch angles from putt to putt which lead to more consistent and predictable rolls.”
Beyond J-Day, also in the department of seekers, Rory McIlroy, who already reverted from P7MB irons to P730 this season, is rumored to be turning back the clock even further.
Specifically, the Ulsterman was spotted with his 2017 TaylorMade Rors Proto irons.
As mentioned above, Rory McIlory returned to his 2017 Rors Proto irons. McIlroy began the season with P7MB irons before switching back to P730 blades.
Ryan Barath offered some context on the prototypes: “The Rors Protos were part of the custom series of irons made for a number of prominent TaylorMade staff players, including Dustin Johnson and (at the time) Justin Rose. They all featured slightly tweaked profiles of the TaylorMade P730 blade, featuring either a unique grind or blade length profile.”
Lanto Griffin is moving back to a TSi2 driver (from TSi3) for more launch and forgiveness.
Jimmy Walker is testing a TSi3 fairway wood (15 degrees) and a U500 2-iron.
Bill Haas is testing the Pro V1x Left Dash.
Non-staffer Rafael Campos is testing 620 MB irons with Mitsubishi MMT shafts.
Also a non-staffer, Scott Piercy is testing Pro V1x Left Dash.
Phil Mickelson is testing a Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X shaft in his Mavrik Sub Zero 4-wood.
Tom Lewis had a 14-degree Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond built. Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X shaft.
Bryson DeChambeau has a new RadSpeed Big Tour Bryson Prototype. According to Cobra’s Ben Schomin, it’s the same head size and shape as the retail Big Tour, but it’s lower lofted (being played at 10.5 degrees) and features a glued hosel. Most apparently, however, the club features small rails, which were added after the fact for better strike consistency/less digging. BAD has also returned to his Cobra King LTD driver (pictured below).
Jason Dufner was testing a prototype (presumably 3D printed) putter.
Rickie Fowler tested multiple Fujikura Ventus Red driver shafts on the range; was also working with a Fujikura MCI Practice shaft in an iron.
Ping staffer Rob Oppenheimer plans to put a two-driver setup in play. One is eight degrees in loft and the other is 10.5.
Also in the in-hand look department, we were able to check out the new Gen4 0311 T and ST irons.
Pat Perez looks to have returned to his Gen4 0311 P irons after a detour to Gen2’s.
Free agents, others
Charl Schwartzel is testing a TwoThumb putter grip.
Rafa Campos reshafted his Mizuno MP-20 irons with KBS TGI 110 shafts.
Scott Garrison installed a LAGP putter shaft in Jhonny Vegas’ Cameron.
Rory McIlroy switches back to TaylorMade Rors Proto irons at Wells Fargo
It has been a busy equipment week at the Wells Fargo Championship with lots of new gear debuting out on tour, but for world number 15 Rory McIlroy, it’s been less about new stuff and more about reuniting with something older: his TaylorMade Rors Proto irons.
We were on the first tee Wednesday morning to spot Rory tee off with his pro-am partners and that is where we spied the Ulsterman with his old set back in the bag.
To provide a bit of a refresher, the Rors Protos were part of the custom series of irons made for a number of prominent TaylorMade staff players, including Dustin Johnson and (at the time) Justin Rose. They all featured slightly tweaked profiles of the TaylorMade P730 blade, featuring either a unique grind or blade length profile.
There is no question Rory’s game has not been up to his standard recently, and he has been messing around with iron shafts over the last couple of months with the goal of dialing in distance control and dispersion. With the PGA Championship quickly approaching at Kiawah Island, a course where Rory won the 2012 PGA by an astonishing eight shots, this looks to be a switch made for the sake of comfort and trying to find something to get him back into form.
You can join the discussion about the switch here in the GolfWRX forums: Rory is back to the Rors Proto iron at Wells Fargo Championship
GolfWRX Spotted: Ping Glide Forged Pro wedges (exclusive in-hand pictures)
This week, GolfWRX is on-site at the Wells Fargo Championship getting all of the inside equipment scoops from the tour vans, and early Tuesday morning, we got in-hand pictures of the highly anticipated new Ping i59 irons along with new Glide Forged Pro Wedges.
GolfWRX forum: Ping i59 irons – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship
GolfWRX forum: Ping Glide forged Pro wedges – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship
We initially spotted these Ping wedges a couple of weeks ago from a distance in the bag of Bubba Watson, and now, thanks to in-hand pictures (including some comparison shots) we can take a closer look.
Although we don’t have any of the technical details behind the new Ping design, what we can tell is the upper part of the blade is much thicker than the previous Ping Glide Forged wedges to the point where the top line has been beveled. This has been a very popular element of a lot of wedges from multiple OEMs, in an effort to shift the center of gravity higher on the face to lower launch and increase spin.
Ping wedges are well known for their spin performance, especially with the hydrophobic finish to repel water and increase friction. If the engineers at Ping can improve on the already great performance of their wedges, then they have a home run on their hands.
You can join the discussion in the GolfWRX forums here: Ping Glide forged Pro wedges – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship
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