The Pellucid Perspective - January 2016 - (Page 8)

Golf course maintenance One-year anniversary of revolutionary course management technology product By Jim Dunlap n ext month's Golf Industry Show will mark the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the OnGolf products and services to the golf industry. By most standards, and particularly those applied to advanced technology in the golf business, it's been a productive 12 months. The company's cloud-based golf course maintenance and management system has attracted such prestigious courses as Medinah CC, Desert Mountain, The Riviera CC, The Philadelphia Cricket Club and others, where the company says it has already identified over $700,000 in maintenance and operation savings for its customers. The OnGolf system has the capability to provide real-time tracking for a wide variety of golf course maintenance and operations functions, ranging from irrigation and water usage to chemical consumption, labor costs, waste and energy management, course health and playing conditions, golf cart management, weather alerts and reports, daily labor and project schedules and more. Superintendents can instantaneously access or enter data in real-time, and since the system is cloud-based, multi-course operators can review up to the minute data from multiple properties at any time. "We came into the industry at a time when there has been and continues to be a considerable amount of economic stress in the industry," said CEO and founder Walt Norley. "Costs have continued to climb for things like chemicals, Obamacare with anyone working over 30 hours required to have health care and other budget items. Declining revenues and increased costs have created serious challenges. We saw what this technology has done for a much larger marketplace in the agriculture industry, and wanted to introduce it to the golf industry." For Norley, who purchased the rights to the non-farm technology from OnFarm and founded the company, it was a return to the golf industry. Norley had previously founded and run UgMO Technologies (Advanced Sensor Technologies) from 2002-2010, a wireless soil management system for golf courses and later the residential market, until selling the company and leaving the golf industry until returning with OnGolf last year. Through his involvement with the IBM Smarter Cities Advisory Board and other related ventures, Norley was introduced to the technology developed by OnFarm to help farmers manage 8 The Pellucid PersPecTive their agricultural operations. Convinced that the technology could be used to help superintendents and golf course operators manage their businesses, Norley purchased the rights to use the technology for non-farm applications and OnGolf was born. "We refer to it as 'Moneyball Golf,'" Norley said, referring to the statistical and analytics revolution introduced to major league baseball by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane as a more scientific way to evaluate player talent and compute a player's true value to the team. "Previously, golf course superintendents have had to make a lot of critical decisions based on instinct, experience and feel. Some were able to marry that art to the highest level and do a great job, but many of them were forced to basically guess. With this technology, they have instant access to numbers, data and facts." Norley said the OnGolf systems are adaptable to any product or technology currently in use in the marketplace and can integrate seamlessly with whatever a superintendent is using or wants to employ. He said the company also takes "an umbrella approach," taking on as much of the operations management function as the client wants, such as the relationship with vendors including invoice managenorley ment. The cost of OnGolf 's services is surprisingly affordable given the level of technology involved. Norley said that a single course subscription to the service for one year is $5,499 plus a one-time $500 implementation fee, which Norley said is around 1 percent of a typical annual maintenance budget. Multi-course pricing comes with a 20% volume discount. If the annual fee sounds lower than one might expect, one reason may be that Norley has set the bar pretty high for 2016 and the rest of the next five years. If the yearly fee seems low, he plans to make it up in volume. "We hope to have 200-250 client courses by the end of the year," said the former U. of Georgia quarterback, "and by the end of the next five years to get to around 15 percent market penetration." One way Norley hopes to jumpstart the pursuit of those goals is to make multi-course sales via some of the country's major multi-course owners and operators. The goals may be ambitious, but people who have followed Norley's various career endeavors are probably not likely to bet against him. n January 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - January 2016

2015 industry tale of the tape: What will the numbers tell us?
Uneven lies in search of a level playing field
Courses denied tax deduction for conservation easements
One-year anniversary of revolutionary course management technology product
December golf weather impact: Near-record for much of Northern US!
Chicago: Bull-ish on supply, Bear-ish on demand
Braving the third party tee time wilderness

The Pellucid Perspective - January 2016