President / Co-Founder
Interview with Matt Ward
Pete Charlestongrew up in Bellingham, WA and played college basketball at Valparaiso University. After graduation Pete Charleston became one of the founders of Premium Cigars Int’l, which was the first company to place premium cigars in humidors in over 25,000 convenience stores in the U.S. and Canada. In 1997 the company went public on the Nasdaq.
In 1999 Pete and two other partners founded GolfLogixand became the first golf company to sell handheld GPS devices. GolfLogix then became the first company to create a Golf GPS smartphone app.
THE CHARLESTON STORY —
I like to say that I have never had a real job. Right out of college I started working alongside my entrepreneurial uncle who was in the convenience store distribution business and helped teach me how to think out of the box.
I had just started playing golf at 30 years old and my co-founders identified a need for GPS distances and club tracking in golf and used our entrepreneurial skills to raise money and build out the GolfLogix vision.
What was the genesis for GolfLogix?
We identified a need for having correct distances and tracking how far golfers hit their clubs.
How long a time frame from idea concept to actual rollout?
We incorporated GolfLogix in May 1999 and the first version of our product — which we ultimately abandoned — launched sometime in 2001.
Who is your customer?
Golflogix has 35,000+ courses mapped around the world and markets direct to golfers and golf courses — with the launch of our new Green Book Contours.
How does your product differentiate itself from your competition?
We were the first golf company to launch a golf gps app on smartphones. We constantly invest in new technology to make the best app experience for our members.
What do you say to those who argue the point that the reading of greens should be done without the insertion of such detailed mapping guides?
Golfers have been making handwritten yardage books including arrows on the green since the beginning of golf. Our Green Book does not make the putt for you and there is an art to reading the contour information.
The Green Book sales since our launch in late April have been amazing and we feel we have truly identified a void that was missing in golf because most golfers can’t read greens. We are simply helping golfers to shoot lower scores and have more fun out on the golf course which is desperately needed in this industry.
From a marketing / sales perspective — what is the approximate percentages for your efforts via online sales, brick and mortar outlets and green grass shops?
Currently, we spend 25% of our time on Green Books and 75% on the GolfLogix App.
Do you have concern that the major ruling bodies in golf — the USGA and R&A — might decide to ban such information usage and that such an effort might carry over to entities such as the PGA TOUR and European Tour?
We submitted the GolfLogix Green Book to the USGA and it was deemed compliant. We can’t look into a crystal ball but we feel that helping golfers eliminate 3-putts and get around the course more quickly is a no brainer and hope the governing bodies do not change the current rules.
Plenty of companies routinely tout customer service. Define the term and the approach followed by GolfLogix?
We are the only app company with a dedicated live customer support team. We have had over 5M+ downloads of our App and we didn’t get there without taking care of our customers and answering their calls and questions promptly.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
In most cases golf courses need to work on eliminating the snobbishness that can come with golfing at many courses. In an effort to attract new golfers to the game things for example like relaxing their rules on music (at a tasteful volume) to get the younger folks hooked on this amazing game.
The biggest challenges — short and long term — facing GolfLogix is what?
We are constantly investing and inventing the newest technology to make the GolfLogix App and the Green Books easy, fast, and fun. We launched our Green Books this year but it is a daunting task to keep coming up with new and innovative ideas in golf.
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