The PGA TOUR’s latest mobile venture uniquely promotes its own sport among fans and players, helps support golf courses, and generates revenue for itself and its playing partner, EZLinks Golf.
The TOUR has invested in TeeOff.com, a free app developed by EZLinks Golf, that allows golfers to book tee times at no cost while helping golf courses fill up their tee sheets and often at discount rates.
“The goal of TeeOff.com by PGA TOUR is to make it easier for people to play more golf and we are always looking at ways to fulfill this objective,” asserts Lance Stover, senior VP, licensing and new ventures, PGA TOUR.
Stover, who is also chairman of the board with EZLinks Golf, says TeeOff.com, as well as the pro tour’s other sites: PGATOUR.com, PGA TOUR Live, and Skratchtv.com, helps the TOUR fulfill part of its mission by growing the game of golf and feeding a passion for the game among golfers.
“The PGA TOUR’s investment in TeeOff.com is a direct and literal extension of this commitment. At the TOUR and through our affiliated companies, we constantly seek to keep golf top of mind with players and fans through our global reach, television, online presence, creative content and now by offering tee times to golfers through TeeOff.com by PGA TOUR.”
This ability to directly reach avid and beginner golfers and ease any friction of finding and pricing out green fees at local clubs is clearly an advantage that other sports do not possess. This comes as golf has faced a relatively rough recovery from the great recession. The number of U.S. golfers has fallen to levels last seen before Tiger Woods burst onto the scene.
The decline has been attributed to a confluence of factors including more diversions (social media, mobile/social games, etc.), less free time for many people, but also due in large part to the uneven economic rebound from the great recession that has tightened budgets for discretionary spending.
But the PGA TOUR reasons that a mobile app that not only finds convenient tee times but discounted green fees may help spark interest among existing golfers as well as aspiring ones, too.
“We believe the more golfers play, the more they watch golf and, more importantly, the more they play, the more they inspire others to play,” says Stover.
Teeing Up Growth
As for EZLinks, CEO Gary Cohen says the company is leveraging its mobile software to establish and expand relationships with golf course operators: “EZLinks Golf continues to grow revenue through the sale of software to golf courses as well as through our ecommerce business – TeeOff.com by PGA TOUR. Similar to Open Table or Expedia, TeeOff.com by PGA TOUR earns commission on the sale of tee times. It is a performance-based model that aligns with our golf course partners.”
And the PGA TOUR official notes mobile is not just an ancillary channel to entice golfers onto the course or to watch tournaments. The TOUR is using mobile to boost interest in the game and the TOUR: “Generally speaking, all sports organizations are looking to better understand their viewers and participants. The PGA TOUR and our affiliates have robust digital platforms and mobile is a central part of our focus. In fact, the majority of our traffic to
PGATOUR.com, the largest site in golf, is from consumers on their mobile devices.”
Stover adds, “Mobile is central to both our growth and engagement strategy. Our mobile apps are constantly evolving to enhance the fan experience at events, to provide the latest golf news and leaders via notification through our PGATOUR.com app and now with TeeOff.com to let golfers know about tee times near them.”
The app is powered by the TeeOff Connect platform that connects any tee sheet to distributors across the U.S. It allows golf courses to set their own rates, offer specials or automate pricing requests. The courses also control which tee times are available, with the ability to entice golfers to slower periods but also book out peak hours as well.
Cohen notes EZLinks Golf manages the app and website with more than half of users accessing the service via mobile devices: “In its first weeks, the TeeOff.com app has been downloaded more than 20,000 times. Purchases through the app have generated nearly 20 percent of tee time revenue and more than 40 percent of the purchases are first time customers.”
He says they are off to an “incredible start” due to the focus on connecting golfers with golf courses and booking tee times at no charge. The EZLinks executive explains that this golf tech business generates revenue from the sale of software to golf courses and through its ecommerce business: “Similar to Open Table or Expedia, TeeOff.com by PGA TOUR earns commission on the sale of tee times. It is a performance-based model that aligns with our golf course partners.”
TeeOff.com also lets users track their round using the app’s GPS feature. Club selection and distance is tracked in the app and scores can be as well. This gives golfers another reason to actively use the app as they track their progress round after round.
And while there aren’t any ads yet, Cohen says the platform provides opportunities “for golf brands and golf courses to reach the highly sought, highly engaged golfer."