Flying for free

Whole In 1 Golf produces 3D CGI ‘flyovers’ of golf courses along with a further four ‘platforms’ all of which are funded by sponsorship and so cost the golf club nothing. Nick Williams, one of the company’s four founding directors, explained to Glyn Pritchard how it all works.

Williams was formerly a squash coach and had a role in that sport’s governing body before setting up Whole In 1 Golf with three friends. “My best friend from school Chris Brayshaw, was a mechanical and electrical designer and his wife Kelly was a bank manager. Chris’s brother-in-law, Dan Weir, was a web and graphic designer by trade. But we all had a passion for golf and wanted to do something within the game. So we started Whole In 1 Golf.”

WI1G---Website-viewThe company was entirely self-funded and is still wholly owned by the four founding directors. “It’s fair to say that the company has grown very successfully but not necessarily in ways we could have predicted at the start. IT is extremely dynamic and you have to be alert to new technologies and processes. We’re in our fifth year and now have 33 staff. We are working with over 100 golf clubs across the UK. Our flyovers have also been seen by Sky Sports viewers as part of their Euro Pro Golf Tour coverage.”

The economic model established by Whole In 1 Golf means that the flyovers and other elements of the Whole In 1 Golf service do not cost the clubs anything. “The cost in programming time to produce our full five platform system for an 18 hole golf course would be about £25,000. We realised early on that only a few elite resort type clubs could cost-justify that level of expenditure. So we developed a sponsorship funding model that doesn’t cost the club anything.”

The company seeks sponsorship for each hole across the five platforms from local businesses. Williams is at pains to point out that raising the funding is entirely down to Whole In 1 Golf and that securing sufficient funding is not a pre-condition of a flyover project. “The funding is entirely down to us and we run the financial risk. I’m pleased to say that on the 100 or so projects we have completed so far we have never failed to gain enough sponsorship to both cover the cost of development and generate a profit.”

The golf club does not have to introduce sponsors, but it can benefit the club to do so says Williams. “It’s best practice to offer companies with either a relationship or corporate membership at a club first refusal on sponsorship opportunities. If an accountancy firm has a corporate membership and they see a rival firm sponsoring holes, it could raise issues. Of course it helps us if the club suggests possible sponsors, but it’s not essential.”

WI1G---Nick-Williams

Flyovers and the associated services (see panel) are usually created on a four-year renewable contract. “During that period, the service we provide will evolve as we introduce the latest enhancements to the Whole In 1 Golf portfolio, so our clients benefit from a continually improving service, again at no cost to themselves. We’re constantly looking at ways to add value and incentives to our service delivery”, Williams concludes.

Whole In 1 with five services

There are five elements to the Whole In 1 Golf service says Williams.

1) 3D CGI flyover – “This is a very attractive tool for clubs to have on their websites. When a prospective visitor or society secretary is comparing venues, this provides the club with a definite edge over other clubs in the locality with static displays and descriptions. We record a voice-over to accompany the hole flyover and that’s usually scripted and often voiced by the club pro, but it can be anybody the club chooses. One club used Jimmy Tarbuck, as he’s a member.

“The flyover definitely keeps the website visitor from surfing away and we can track how a visitor interacts with the flyover. Once they look at one hole they almost always look at more. Recent analysis of one of our clubs showed they had received just under 75,000 hits on the flyovers online in an 18 month period.”

WI1G---iPad-for-golf-carts2) Smart phone GPS app – “It’s a free app that players can download to their iPhone or Android smartphone. It’s ‘native’ to the phone so it doesn’t rely on receiving a mobile signal to operate. The player can stand on the tee and see the 3D flyover of the hole they’re about to play.

“GPS is incorporated into the app giving the player front, middle and back distances to the green. We can also integrate a score card for club competitions and the club can also ‘push’ notifications out to players, for example that the club is closing because of bad weather. Marketing messages can be displayed both for the club and for sponsors.”

3) Live pin positioning – “We offer live pin positioning, so even if the greenkeepers move the flags halfway through the day, our GPS measurements to the pin remain accurate as the green keepers are able to communicate the new pin position through the app. We also offer clubs the ability to print the pin positions for the day for handing out pin sheets to the golfers who would like them.”

4) Golf cart screens – “We can install iPads in weatherproof cases fitting into brackets on club golf carts. These provide all the features and benefits of the mobile app and the club can also track the cart’s location. There’s a built-in score card that will automatically calculate nett strokes and Stableford scores, once handicaps are entered. It can capture player data so if a visitor returns in say three months they can call up all their previous rounds at the course.

“Once again it can be used for marketing messages and the club can choose to hire out the iPad, so it could generate revenue.”

5) Clubhouse digital notice board – “We provide a large LCD screen that can be used as a live club notice board in the clubhouse. It can display the flyovers, but also welcome notices, weather forecast and club marketing information like wedding and event services.”

Williams says the company is always working on new services and is about to introduce a live scoring system. “It will send back live scores from the app on players’ phones or the golf cart iPads and display the up to date situation on the clubhouse LCD noticeboard. It’s software that would cost clubs a lot of money to buy, but it will all be free as part of the Whole In 1 Golf service.”

For more

 information visit: www.wholeinonegolf.co.uk