The Pellucid Perspective - May 2015 - (Page 6)

Golf course technoloGy GPS Industries, Club Car forge rare GPS success story By Jim Dunlap t he history of cart-mounted GPS technology in the golf industry has been a checkered one to say the least, particularly for those companies whose sales pitch dangled advertising sales revenues as a way for courses to cover their GPS system costs. Last month's issue of this magazine provided the latest proof that the ad sales payment model is flawed, with Digital Caddies notifying their golf course customers that going forward, courses would have to pay the tab for Sprint's system connectivity which Digital Caddies had previously paid. In at least one reported case, and almost certainly many others of the company's remaining clients have been asked to either return the computer tablet hardware or pay Digital Caddies a lease fee for use of the tablets which, like the Sprint bills, had been part of Digital Caddies' incentive offerings to install the systems. The plan for Digital Caddies was to achieve enough critical mass in course installations to enable the company to sell cart-mounted advertising. The moral of the story, or certainly one of them, is that perhaps selling cart-mounted GPS as a value proposition, rather than some pie in the sky opportunity to get something for nothing, is a better development strategy. As proof, a recent press release from GPS Industries (GPSI) announced that the company has enjoyed a record start to 2015, with over 100 installation contracts signed in the year's first quarter. The vast majority of those contracts, if not all, are for GPS systems developed as part of the Club Car Visage system and mounted on either the i3 or i2 Precedent golf cars from Club Car. The i3 in particular offers a broad range of management control, informational, promotional and social media features in addition to the yardage and other course information guidance typically offered. With Club Car and GPSI collaborating on both the Visage Mobile Golf Information System and the recently introduced Visage Media Network to create the CONNECTED (TM) Precedent i3 car, the potential for use of the cart-mounted technology for advertising revenue or marketing communications exists, although fortunately based on results to date, that capability would be an option, not the basis for purchasing the GPS system. GPSI VP of Business Development Kevin Carpenter is a veteran of the sometimes brutal battles for dominance of the 6 The Pellucid PersPecTive golf industry GPS space that took place during the early part of this century. He fully appreciates the current market share dominance that GPSI and their global sales and marketing partner Club Car have forged. "There was something like $600 Million in GPS companies by 2008, and nobody seemed to really have the answer, whether it was technology problems or the wrong business model," Carpenter said. "We [GPSI] sort of got a big mulligan when Falconhead Capital came in and took over, along with Greg Norman, in 2009, and then Club Car. Now, we probably have a 90 percent global market share. I'd have to say there's probably nobody else with over 20 or 30 installations in North America." While the financial support of Falconhead and Norman's Great White Shark Enterprises was helpful (although Norman already had a stake in the original GPSI, secured by valuable patents held by the company), the alliance with Club Car was almost certainly the key to GPSI's current industry leadership. Under the direction of original GPSI founder Bob Silzer and his son, Brent, Vancouver, B.C.-based GPSI secured numerous key technology and wi-fi patents, Silzer proved ingenious at attracting investment capital ... but the company never seemed to sell many systems. A shift to Sarasota, FL and consolidation of former competitors Prolink and ParView under new CEO David Chesler resulted in a flurry of sales and promotional ploys, but the company ran short of money and filed for Chapter 11 reorganization and was subsequently purchased by Falconhead and Norman in 2009. With Club Car already established as a worldwide leader in the golf market globally, GPSI brought its technology to the table and in turn received not only the actual cart-mounted platform in Club Car's Precedent vehicles, but the sales and marketing platform and established presence in the marketplace that Club Car provided. As a result, it appears that a viable market has been developed among golf course operators who value the management tools incorporated in systems such as Visage which not only enhance the customer experience but protect courses' golf car assets, golfers and the course itself from careless or improper use of the vehicles. n May 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - May 2015

TOC
Third party tee time space battles heat up
NGCOA draws flak on owners’ message board
GPS Industries, Club Car forge rare GPS success story
“Paces” of play a healthy alternative for golf?
Flying Tee aims to top Topgolf with debut facility
April golf weather impact: Put another month in the “plus” column
Denver: Profits not Rocky Mountain high, but better than most
ClubCorp reports outstanding first quarter results
The Players, on and off the course

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