The CEO of the performance tracking company talks about the challenges of leading a start-up business, why sinking a ten foot putt is his best ever shot and his dream dinner party guests.
How did you first get into golf?
Like most kids I loved all sports and my grandfather introduced me to golf when I was eight, we would play 9 holes at 6 am every Saturday morning! I left the game while I was at University but took golf back up at 22 and have never been far from a course since.
If you were in a three club challenge what clubs would you use and why?
I can’t help but apply an engineering approach to this question and, after doing my research, I suspect I will be playing with three clubs this weekend! Strong 3-wood for use off the tee and long approach shots, 6-iron for approach shots and Sand Wedge from around the green. Not sure what I would use to putt, 3 wood or 6 iron, maybe both?
What’s the best shot you’ve ever hit?
A 10 foot left to right downhill putt! It was on the 15th hole at Bathgate Golf Club during the Handicap Club Championship. Already a challenging putt, it didn’t help that I had just lost three holes in a row to be two up with four to play and just missed a putt from 3 feet. I had chipped up to 10 foot leaving a good chance for a birdie. The 15th at Bathgate has a long thin green and my opponent’s birdie opportunity must have been over 100 feet but he nailed it and the gallery went wild. I remember seeing the line about two feet outside left and I got my head straight, believed in the line and dropped it in the left edge at a decent pace.
What’s the biggest issue facing golf today?
I think the issues facing the golf industry are well known, it all stems from introducing younger generations to the game and growing participation amongst children. I sit in a lot of business meetings where someone from outside the golf industry states that golf is in decline but, as someone relatively new to the golf industry, I am excited by the number of opportunities golf offers. Golf is a multi-billion pound industry, the sport is played by over 55 million people around the world and growing in Asia and the Middle East. What other sports could a young kid starting out play against a grandparent that has played for 50 years?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I get to combine my passion for golf, technology and business. What I enjoy most about the job is the team at Shot Scope. I started to work on the Shot Scope idea three years ago; there was no name, no technology and no resources. The idea started on three pieces of A4 paper. I had to wear many hats in that first year and found myself alone many late evenings working to progress the idea. Nobody talks about the difficulty of being a sole founder. Shot Scope has changed a lot in that time and now employees a team of 20 based in Edinburgh.
What’s the hardest part of it?
The company is officially just over two years old and, like all start-ups, faced many challenges in its short life. Thankfully I am surrounded by an exceptional team and together we worked through these challenges. Potentially the hardest part is introducing a new product and new market segment to the golf industry. Performance tracking is a new and emerging market, golfers don’t fully understand how a performance tracker and the data it collects can transform their game yet. Shot Scope users are early adopters of technology, and performance tracking has not reached the mass market yet. Shot Scope is the only performance tracking system that doesn’t require manual tagging, use of a phone during play and fully conforms to the Rules of Golf. The DMD sector went through these challenges and is now established.
Who would be your five dream dinner party guests?
Jack Nicklaus is my golfing hero, it’s amazing what he has achieved on and off the course. Steve Jobs, although I suspect I would drive him mad asking questions and looking for advice. Alex Ferguson, even though I am not a Manchester United fan I admire everything he has achieved in football and for the last two Michael Jordan and John Daly. It would make the most amazing 4-ball; Nicklaus, Jordan, Daly and, never one to do myself out of a round of golf, me!
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I have two focuses in life at the moment; my family and my work. I am lucky to have my fantastic wife Claire, who fully understands the pressures and demands of running an early stage tech company. We have two great children, Luke (3 years old) and Eilidh (8 months). Outside of work I commit all of my time to them. Ten years is a long time in the start-up world but the team at Shot Scope has ambitious plans to be the leading technology company in golf within five years. In ten years I’ll have a thirteen year old, a ten year old and a business that is the market leader in golf technology – and hopefully a bit more time to play golf and get my handicap back down.