Pete CharlestonCo- founder / President Pete Charleston. prior to GolfLogix, Charleston co-founded Premium Cigars International and helped take the company public on the Nasdaq. Charleston served as vice president of sales for Premium Cigars International, where he successfully launched an in-store humidor program in over 10,000 retail outlets, negotiating contracts representing over 25,000 retail locations and managed 50 sales reps.
Charleston now leads GolfLogix’s marketing, sales, and business development efforts and helped successfully negotiate the acquisition of GolfLogix by Emigrant Capital Corp. in 2014. Having been in the golf GPS business since its inception in 1999, Charleston is one of the most experienced executives in the Golf GPS industry.
THE CHARLESTON STORY —
I moved a prior business from Seattle to Scottsdale in 1996. At that point I had never picked up a golf club and hadn’t hung out with anyone who golfed. After a year or so living in Scottsdale I started to get invited out to golf and always turned them down because I knew nothing about the game. I finally gave in and I fell in love with the game the very first time I played. Being a college basketball player and an avid athlete I figured like most sports the learning curve would be fairly quick but boy was I wrong!
Golf is truly the hardest sport there is and I realized that the game takes a tremendous amount of patience and perseverance to improve your game. As I started getting better I was frustrated that there wasn’t anything out there that tracked your real game performance statistics. In addition, many courses weren’t very well marked and as a new golfer it was tough to guess at how far I was from the pin. I thought the game was hard enough and any technology that could help with these two items could be a home run. It was at that point that myself and two other golfers decided to file for a patent and started up GolfLogix in May, 1999.
COMPANY HISTORY —
Founded in 1999, GolfLogix is the world leader in Golf GPS technology, was the first to introduce handheld GPS to the golf industry, and holds a patent on wireless Golf GPS. GolfLogix has been professionally mapping golf courses for over 12 years and is proud to have the largest, most up-to-date golf course database in the world. All of our maps have been verified by millions of rounds of golf played by our members.
Through 2005 GolfLogix developed proprietary software and maps for a Garmin co-branded handheld GPS device that was featured at thousands of prestigious golf courses all around the world. In 2006, the USGA and the R&A officially sanctioned the use of Golf GPS and many companies scrambled to develop GPS solutions for golfers; but GolfLogix was already there. In 2007, the company launched the GolfLogix GPS-7 handheld waterproof consumer unit and based on the company’s mantra of “keep it simple” it was adopted by golfers around the world with incredible success. GolfLogix followed up with a launch of the GPS-8 unit including a full 30-minute TV infomercial campaign featuring Gary McCord and Peter Kostis which captured the attention of millions of golfers worldwide. Today, the GPS-7 and GPS-8 units still lead the pack in being the most reliable and easy-to-use golf GPS system ever produced.
In 2009, seeing the rapid advances in Smartphone technology, GolfLogix quickly captured the market with a golf application that provides precise GPS distances plus keeps score and tracks stats and uploads them to our online clubhouse community where golfers can share and compete with millions of golfers worldwide. Now available on over 60 different Smartphone models, with new phones being added monthly, the GolfLogix Golf GPS application has become the #1 Golf App across all Smartphones.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
I wake up every morning thinking about how we can improve our newest feature Putt Line which provides golfers with the exact putt read. We are stretching the available technology and strive to make our putting technology easier to use as often as we can.
What was the genesis of GolfLogix?
We founded GolfLogix in 1999 and were the first company to launch a hand-held GPS device for golf. Our goal was to provide GPS distances on the course and real game performance statistics after the round.
How long a time frame from the conception of the idea to actual prototype?
In order to be more current with this question I will address the our Approach View/Putt Line feature. We first saw the Green Books that the PGA Tour Players were using about five years ago and decided that the amateur golfer should have access to this data as well. We officially soft-launched our first version call Putt Breaks in the fall of 2017.
What distinguishes GolfLogix from your competition?
GolfLogix has been around for 20 years and has built up a great brand name. The key to our success is that we continually invest in innovation. We are always looking to improve existing features or develop completely new concepts like our Putt Line/Approach View technology.
Who is your customer today and how many are using your product?
We have had 5M+ golfers download our the GolfLogix App since inception. Golfers are motivated to use our app for many different reasons therefore we have scratch golfers up to 25+ handicaps. We have millions of rounds played using GolfLogix on an annual basis.
Throughout the golf industry a great amount of attention is spent on customer service. Define the term and the approach you take? And how does customer feedback factor into your efforts?
One of our first business models was selling GolfLogix GPS units to consumers all over the world. We had a full team of customer support staff to handle the massive volume of calls on a daily basis. We may be the only company with a Golf GPS App that actually has live customer support. Our philosophy is the that our member support agents will not only solve issues but also educate our members on new ways to use the GolfLogix App out on the course.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
I would immediately change the divot in the fairway rule. Nothing is worse than hitting a great tee shot only to discover that someone didn’t fill their crater sized divot!
As someone who has been around the golf industry for quite some time — what fascinates you about the sport?
I’m a 7 handicap and it never ceases to amaze me that some days you can show up to the course and it can look like you have never played the game before. It definitely keeps you humble!
You’ve been around golf for many year – what would you say to the major golf organizations throughout America that are searching for ways to attract Millennials, women and minorities to golf?
We have to figure out how to make the game easy, fast, and fun. Golf can be a bit intimidating and slightly stuffy when you first start on we have to welcome any new golfers with open arms.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
“The game is extremely frustrating and although you will want to quit many times but never ever give up. You will meet and make some of your best life long friends out on the golf course and it is one of the few sports you will be able to compete at as you get older.” An older friend of mine who took me to the driving range for the first time and taught me the basics…
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