The Golf Industry Roundtable With Brett Campbell
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk Modern Golf on episode 6 of the GIR (Golf Industry Roundtable) podcast hosted by Kyle Taylor and Rob Hoffman. These gentlemen know their stuff! It was a privilege to be included in their roster of guests.
Listeners were interested to know how aboutGOLF has fared during the pandemic, where our products are headed, and what we see for the future of golf.
How aboutGOLF Is Navigating COVID
In the software game, we called an unfortunate event that generated sales a “strategic accident.” I wouldn’t say the pandemic fit the bill.
Our residential sales have been very healthy, with avid golfers eagerly adopting a way to golf without risking their health. With recent technological advances, the line between playing golf in our simulator and on the course has blurred. Our machine vision technology accurately captures everything from your shortest putt to your longest drive, so a full round of golf on the simulator feels about the same as a full round on a course. The major differences are you can play a round in one-third the time in a simulator and don’t have to spend time walking around retrieving errant shots.
We also launched aG Trainer—a do-it-yourself golf simulator in a box delivered to your door—at a lower price point, which has attracted more customers. Our installation team has continued to design and deliver high-end entertainment rooms where possible. Of course, our highest priority is our customers' and employees' health, so installations are done with the utmost caution.
On the other hand, indoor golf centers and amenities facilities have suffered tremendously. We’ve been keeping our finger on the pulse of the latest safety requirements and best practices. I don’t think anyone knows when or what the new normal will look like, but our experts are always on call to help entrepreneurs get the most value out of their business.
Once things do open again, we’re excited about the new content we’ve developed and our eSports functionality. With engaging games and friendly competition, we see people spending more time on simulators.
How aG Can Help PGA Professionals
I was an Australian footballer and water-skier growing up, and I had a late introduction to golf. An instructor in Coeur D’Alene got me on a simulator, and I was hooked. Between a lot of practice and sharing videos and data with my remote instructor, I went from a 27 handicap down to an eight in five years.
I’m not an anomaly.
We’ve heard from customers who practice on their simulator and share data with their instructor remotely that they’re also making it to the single digits. One gentleman started golfing in his 60s even made it to a single-digit handicap this way.
The in-person instruction demand isn’t there right now with COVID. But there is a market for on-demand golf instructors and remote golf instructors. I think we have an opportunity with aG Locker to connect simulator players—not just residential customers but anyone who uses a sim—to instructors. This development is in our product pipeline.
In the more immediate future, we’re looking at integration options with launch monitors and swing vests to get on-course player data. We think self-improvement and hired instruction will benefit from a complete data picture.
Why Did We Acquire aboutGOLF?
Overload Golf had the opportunity to review a few companies about three years back. It came down to aboutGOLF’s people, first of all. We were also blown away by their superior ball physics, total play authenticity from tee to green, and accurate shot projection. aG customers tell us the accuracy of the aG Links short game—including putting—has the biggest impact on improving their handicap. You can’t get that reaction with a launch monitor.
My goal was to take aboutGOLF from a hardware business to a software business. We've introduced a new management team to focus on esports and software as a service. At just 18 months into our 5-year plan, we’re thrilled about the progress we’ve made.
We understand a $50K installation isn’t a viable entry point for most people. As we evolve our technology, more options open to draw people to the game. It’s very exciting, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Our Transformation to a Software-Centric Business
We did a lot of work to create a fully integrated platform that spans from PC to mobile to simulator and beyond.
aG Links is the simulator technology with human detection, club data, and ball data. It’s the software and hardware that each installation is built around, whether it’s the aG Trainer in a box or a 100-foot, multi-bay installation of aG Max.
aG Locker is our free mobile app, released in the last year. It allows people to take their game data with them wherever they go, connect with an online community of avid golfers, find an aG simulator near them, and register to compete in simulator tournaments. If someone plays on any aG Links simulator using their aG Locker login, their data automatically syncs to their account.
Finally, aG Content is our premium course collection, selection of family-friendly games, skill-building drills, and training material. But it’s about so much more than golf. You can stream Netflix while you play a round. You can stream virtual fitness programs in your golf and entertainment space or practice meditation and yoga. The options are limitless.
The Future of aboutGOLF
We’ve had course play for the last 15 years, but recently we’ve added some fun games. We’ve had rave reviews about Razor’s Edge and some of the other ball-striking games. We also have family-friendly games like mini-golf.
What I’m most excited about is aG Tour.
We’re currently running the Alpha version of aG Tour, our eSports platform for aG. We’ve seen fantastic participation with hundreds of players each week vying for the grand prize given away at the end of our 10-week summer tour: $10,000 USD.
With seven competition formats and a variety of courses, we’re not only keeping it entertaining. We’re testing out a variety of options before we launch the full aG Tour. Already, we have people competing in the United States, London, and Australia. In the future, we’re looking at how to get kids involved and what a global PGA-style tournament would look like. Do we have a Pros vs. Joes event or a world poker type tournament to find the best players? We’ll also put a handicap system in place.
Online competition is a great way to draw more people to the sport. First-time players find driving ranges and golf courses intimidating. Walking into a simulator and swinging a club doesn’t put the same level of pressure on people. It’s really fun to see a transformation in people who wouldn’t get on a golf course but are comfortable trying out a simulator. Pretty soon, they’re competing with friends.
Check back soon for more updates and announcements. The world of Modern Golf is evolving quickly!