Golf Genius Software
I’ve been fortunate to participate in “buddy golf trips” going back to the 1980’s, and I was always the guy to organize things. Being on the east coast — a typical trip was to travel Thursday morning, play 18 Thursday afternoon, 36 holes on Friday and Saturday, 18 on Sunday, and head home. One of the challenges in a trip like this is to figure out the pairings for each round so that every player is in a foursome plays with every other player about the same number of times. To make things even more complicated, we usually would break up into two teams and play in a Ryder Cup format for a few of the rounds, ABCD in some rounds and pair by condo in some rounds.
Trying to figure out the optimal pairings is a very challenging task because there are literally trillions of combinations for placing players into foursomes over rounds. Because I have a Ph.D, in “Decision Sciences” I realized at some point that this was a classic scheduling problem — just like airplane or truck routing. I decided to tackle this problem and spent a year developing a scheduling program to do these sorts of pairings.
Today, this is a small part of what Golf Genius does, but we are the only ones who do it — and this capability is critical for golf trips and golf leagues. Golf Genius has allowed me to bring together my passion for golf, 40 years of experience in the golf industry, and a love for solving really hard analytical problems.
MATT WARD: What makes Golf Genius stand apart as a product?
MICHAEL ZISMAN: We are the most comprehensive golf tournament management product, by far. Our product is used for group golf trips, golf leagues, and the sorts of complex tournaments one finds at golf clubs – member/guests, season bracket tournaments, Ryder Cups, multi-round tournaments with different formats, etc. We provide live scoring as well as traditional scoring solutions, and we live “less work, more fun, more revenue” – less work for the golf shop, more fun for golfers, and more revenue for clubs and course operators. Also, we are very proud of the customers who have chosen Golf Genius. Many U.S. Open venues, such as Merion Golf Club and Congressional Country Club, are customers. Leading resorts, including Pinehurst, Reynolds Lake Oconee and the Grove (United Kingdom) are customers. The PGA of Canada uses Golf Genius for all tournament scoring. We have customers in the UAE, the U.K., Russia and Australia.
MW: Describe the prospective buyer / club interested in becoming a customer of Golf Genius.
MZ: Country clubs and golf clubs, public courses, resorts, multi-course operators and individuals managing golf trip and golf leagues.
MW: What was the genesis for the creation of the product?
MZ: My own frustration organizing group golf trips, but this led to solutions for golf leagues, and then solutions for clubs and resorts.
MW: You are involved with a wide variety of different golf facilities — but which one of the group has shown the most interest thus far?
MZ: Private clubs and resorts.
MW: Millennials are being sought by a number of companies — Cobra / Puma is just one example — is Golf Genius focusing its marketing efforts with this group squarely in mind?
MZ: Millennials take for granted mobile devices, web sites and live scoring. We are best in class in these areas — and focus on this market segment.
MW: You use two expressions in your promotion — “where tradition meets technology” and “the golfers, the geeks and the gurus.” Explain what both mean.
MZ: While clubs welcome live scoring, they also demand traditional printed materials like scorecards, scoreboards and cart signs. We are committed to providing the best live scoring and the best printed materials – this is where tradition meets technology. “Golfer, geeks and gurus” describes the team that builds and supports Golf Genius. Almost half of the employees are PGA professionals, the developers are true “geeks”, and the gurus fill in the other key functions such as marketing and finance.
MW: Best advice you ever got and who was it from?
MZ: Solve the big problems and the little problems take care of themselves – a fellow grad student in 1975 told me this.
MW: Customer feedback is an essential feature many companies crave. How do you solicit it and what role does it play in your future shoe design efforts?
MZ: We have an interactive chat system — customers can ask questions and submit problems. Each “ticket” is emailed to every employee in the company, including me. Our first meeting every Monday morning is called the BUE – bugs, usability and enhancements. This is 100% customer driven and sets priorities for releases. We issue about ten major product updates every year. We also have a customer advisory council — which provides more strategic advice.
MW: What trends do you see happening in the golf and technology arenas in the next few years?
MZ: There will be an evolution from traditional printed materials to live scoring, TV leaderboard and event web sites. But it will be an evolution — not a revolution.
MW: If you had the power to change one thing in golf — what would it be?
MZ: Most of the key influencers in the industry belong to country clubs, but “private club golfers” represent only about 2.5 million of 25 million golfers. We need to find a way for their voice to be heard — and to find better ways to engage public golfers.