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BACKGROUNDER

Pascal Stolz is a veteran of the golf industry having launched his career bringing the Burner Bubble at Taylor Made Golf and the full line of King Cobra products while Worldwide VP of Marketing at Cobra Golf, Inc. Leaving the golf industry in 1999 to pursue his career in technology — eCommerce at ShopNow.com, mobile and location based technologies at Gravitate, software as an executive at Microsoft and CEO of Alerts.com — Pascal brings back that collective experience to golf to help grow the game one hole at a time.

THE STOLZ STORY

While Sr. Product Manager at Taylor Made Golf, and working on the launch of the Burner Bubble to fence off the growth of the Callaway Big Bertha that had taken a lot of market share, and working with Nissan Design Center in San Diego we had offered a revolutionary advance in golf club cosmetics with a neo-classic “copper” color for the head and accent on the shaft. At the time TaylorMade golf was owned by ski giant Salomon. Going through the process of consumer testing for performance and cosmetic acceptance a group of 25% of golfers indicated disliking the color copper, Salomon had launched a red ski boot – a novelty at the time – and the boot completely flopped. The mandate from the parent company:was prove you’re right or come up with an alternative color.

While engineering was working on “nice grey alternatives” marketing went to the core of the issue. Are the 25% customers that disliked copper the same “top of the pyramid” skiers who didn’t like red? Has there been a copper like precedent? Yes – after searching the backroom of Lomas Santa Fe CC we found numerous persimmon woods that had a coloring very similar to the copper neo-classic proposed. We were now armed with proofs.

At a high level executive meeting in Carlsbad, CA. a question was asked to the audience while holding up three golf club heads — seen at approximately 8 feet: which of these three golf heads is the Burner Bubble? The confusion that followed when told that two of the three had been played at all levels for 50+ years coupled with the 25% stat comparison and the rest is history. The lesson learned? It’s not about the stats but the essence of the data.

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What was the genesis for eGull?

eGull was started at the time of the hype of the “smart watch” to eliminate the need of scorecards by tracking every shot as a function of the arm movement. With the low “uptake” of smart watches the first pivot was taking the technology to smartphones, tracking players and working to monitor Pace of Play. This gave the genesis of eGull Pay since we precisely tracked players on the course and by adding a payment back-end we now could enable Play and Pay by the Hole™

How long a process from idea creation to full actual product?

First coding and product in the “smart watch” started in 2016 and, two years later, the product matured.

Why the name eGull?

Play on the word of an “eagle” — two under par — though it was taken :

How does your product separate itself from other competitors?

Competitors use either a mobile website or mobile app booking engine for checking golfers in and are based on the honor system. Additional staff are usually required to monitor that golfers aren’t cheating, and the pro-shop needs to remain open to check golfers out. eGull is the Uber of Golf: a mobile app (iOS and Android) leveraging the GPS tracking capabilities of smart phones to precisely monitor in real time the holes played and bills accordingly within the app. It doesn’t require any additional staff, the course has a live dashboard seeing all activities on the course at all times, golfers do not need to check back in at the pro-shop, cheating is alleviated via real time tracking and if a golfer purposefully shuts the app down they are charged the full 18.

How will eGull change the way golfers and courses interact?

eGull allows golf courses to adapt their offering to the American lifestyle that places a premium of time.

Are golf course owners moving fast enough to deal with today’s customer realities?

If “glacial pace” is fast, then yes.

It’s been said America still has too many courses in its overall inventory. That a reduction of 20-25% would help immensely with the issues of supply and demand. What’s your take on that premise?

The debate should not be around “supply and demand.” Focus on can a course be profitable. If not, close it. The second aspect is the most important one — the 80/20 rule — revenue from % of golfers — and how do we change it. Pace-of-play and dynamic pricing solutions have marginally helped yield at public access golf courses, and course operators realize that pace or price aren’t the answer.

Time is a major challenge inhibiting play. Golf is the only sport one can’t play for one hour. eGull Pay is about creating flexibility and ingenuity, allowing golf to fit into the American lifestyle and address the time issue. A bi product is fewer holes played than 18 is also less expensive. Time is priceless, and eGull is aiming to grow the game and revenues one hole at a time, allowing courses to offer golfers the flexibility to play golf on their own time.

If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?

Break the rules and focus on the customer.

There’s been a major push by the major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — to attract new players to the sport. This is especially so with Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them — what would you suggest be done?

The American lifestyle has changed and golf needs to evolve to that change. Being it for dress codes, use of cell phones or other electronic devices, if an “establishment” doesn’t adapt they will die. It has occurred across industries from restaurant to retail. So while traditionally golf has been played in 18 holes and in some instances 9 we still face the concern of time. Embrace the concern of time and invite players to play and pay by the hole.

Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from? Give your career — what would you advise those just starting their careers? 

When starting a business there are four critical elements to keep in check and one mantra to remember. The critical elements are: (1) it always takes longer, (b) it always cost more, (3) hire smarter people than you and (4) make sure to enjoy the journey. The mantra is simple: there is never a crisis when you make a decision.

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