David G. Shultz
B A C K G R O U N D E R . . .
As a natural problem-solver, Dave Shultz has always had the innate ability to see a problem and fix it. Most recently, as a business leader for General Electric, Shultz led teams facilitating critical path delivery for hydraulic components required to launch Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program. Shultz spent six years in the US Navy during the 1980’s and holds an Electronic Engineering degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (California) where he graduated summa cum laude.
T H E S H U L T Z S T O R Y . . .
As a lifelong enthusiast, I had occasionally fantasized about pursuing a career in the golf industry. As my career developed and years passed, this dream seemed to grow farther out of reach. However, this all changed on a beautiful morning last year in Carmel, CA, while playing golf with my son Ethan on his 21st birthday.
Losing badly, I wondered why golf couldn’t be more accessible: available in shorter durations, at night, indoors, and so on. I was aware of the sensation building around a new socially inspired business — TopGolf. However, it was the sensation that got me excited, not the product. TopGolf was proving the existence of a global hunger for golf done differently.
After a dream-filled and restless night, I woke up the next morning with a big idea to combine the best of golf technology — golf simulators — with the best of real-world golf — the short game. With the inclusion of a restaurant and sports bar, and some technology-inspired “magic”, a new experience was possible that could quite literally change the way people think about and engage in golf.
Today, nearly two years later, REALiTEE Golf’s concept is resonating globally. This solution will serve a critical need for the industry at large, as a place where beginners can learn and experienced players can practice in a fun-filled social environment.
Imagine how many fewer skiers and snowboarders there would be if the only place to learn was on a black diamond run. This is the reality of how millions of people who have never experienced the greatest game ever played think about learning golf. This is the change that will enable the industry to flourish again. Get ready golf industry — good times ahead!
MATT WARD: What was the genesis for REALiTEE Golf?
DAVID SHULTZ: A sudden awareness that my entire lifetime of experiences had uniquely prepared me to solve a really big problem: growing the golf industry on a scale beyond the imagination of almost everyone.
MW: How long did it take to go from concept to final product?
DS: From my perspective nothing is ever “final”, but rather a continuous process of learning and improvement. With that in mind, it took about 6 months of product development to finalize the concept we will launch.
MW: Given the existing competition - how are you going to be able to separate your brand from all the existing clutter?
DS: This is really a first-of kind of solution, so true competition won’t emerge until we have proven our appeal and profitability. We have a patent pending for our game concept, and are several years beyond the thinking of most within the industry. This head start coupled with our dedication to continuous improvement will keep us on top.
MW: When do you expect to be operational?
DS: No later than Summer 2018 for a full-scale venue, with a proof of concept prototype operational by Summer 2017.
MW: If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be?
DS: I would turn those frowns upside down! There is a prevailing pessimism regarding the future of golf within the industry that is a bit crazy when you consider that golf has survived for more than 600 years already.
MW: Customer service is an important element that individuals and companies focus a good deal upon. Define the term and how you plan on implementing it with your efforts?
DS: Customer service is about tailoring the experience such that all customers can enjoy it on their own terms. Prior to participating, customers will set up individual preferences such as skill level, favorite food and drink, desired level of socialization with others, favorite locations, and so on. A smartwatch application will tailor their experience accordingly.
MW: What gives you the most satisfaction?
DS: Inspiring hope and joy in others.
DS: I can’t say that anything truly frustrates me these days. I enjoy hearing what people have to say — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have spent significant energy learning about success philosophy from authors such as Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) and John Little (The Warrior Within) and buy in 100%.
MW: With demands on time having become more pressurized – can golf as the game we know today — really continue to exist?
DS: Absolutely! But not without supplemental “technology-enabled” experiences to draw more people into the game.
MW: The major golf organizations in the sport are attempting to figure out how to attract Millennials, women and minorities – trying to get new players beyond the hard core baby boomers now. What strategies should be followed to do just that?
DS: This has been studied extensively over the past ten years with research commissioned by the biggest names in the industry such as HSBC Bank, the PGA’s of the world, and others. REALiTEE Golf is the result of taking those results literally and feeding them into user requirements as input to the product development process. More fun, available anytime, in shorter bursts — technology-driven. These are the biggies, and they cannot be achieved without an “under a roof” solution.
MW: How much do you play now?
DS: 10-15 rounds per year, at most. But, my game is sharper now than ever before due to the technology we’ve been evaluating during product development.
MW: If you had one bucket list that you wish to play which one would you choose?
DS: The Old Course at St. Andrews — given its place in golf history. Although Augusta National is also way up there.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?