Golfers all over the world have experienced the headache of putting together a foursome.
First, they book the tee time that works for them, usually for four players. Then they go about texting, emailing or calling their friends with details, asking who can play. The player who booked it is juggling all of the incoming messages and following up on the "Maybes" and "Check with me laters."
This can be especially frustrating if the course is holding your credit card in advance, so you need to find those players 24 to 48 hours before.
Sometimes, you end up getting six or seven people who want to play, or others complain later about not being invited.
Other times, you're the last player standing and end up going out solo.
On the golf course's side of things, they know who made the tee time, but who are these other people in the group? Are they first time visitors to the course? Are they regulars?
As a business, they're reaching just a fraction of their consumer base with informational emails about discounts and club events.
Such headaches have been so common for both sides of the game that at this point, it seems like both have just accepted it.
Four Milwaukee entrepreneurs – and avid golfers – saw this hole in the golfing experience and have gone about finding a solution: GolfPipeline.com.
"We didn't like any other solution that was out there and there was nothing to help manage our game," co-founder Brian Wroblewski said.
Fellow co-founders Graham Gibbs, Phil Terranova and Andy Meier helped create GolfPipeline.com as a way for golfers to easily book, and more importantly, share their tee times – whether or not your prospective playing partners are GolfPipeline.com members.
"It's really innovative in the sense that the system manages everything," Wroblewski said. "When you toss out an invite to 20 guys or gals, the first three that respond are in. After the four people book, you as the organizer get a message saying your tee time is full and everybody else gets a message the tee time is full you were invited to."
But GolfPipeline.com is not another tee time service. That's a function, but what will make the site a go-to for all golfers is its sharing capabilities and interactive potential. Right away, users can log in via Facebook and Twitter and communicate directly with the GolfPipeline.com staff to help the site evolve in the right way – a golfer's way.
"We want to continuously add value to a golfer's game by delivering tools that they want," Wroblewski said. "Our whole goal is every three months or so – maybe more frequently in the early stages – add some new feature that's a milestone or game changer for the industry.
"We encourage people to come tell us what they're looking for. People can actually go in (to the user feedback) and vote on what ideas they want to see, so we're powered by user feedback."
On the golf course side, the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) had some input to help the courses in the directory better serve the players that book tee times. As the site continues to grow and roll out new functions, players will be able to review and rate courses, share experiences about pace of play and eventually, find playing partners if the foursome can't be filled.
The site will also provide score tracking for users, with the ability to purchase a USGA handicap directly without having to sign up at a singular club.
"There is a better model, and the better model is letting people search for things that are important to them," Wroblewski said. "Booking tee times are like what dining reservations used to be – just a hassle. It was like, there has to be a better way to manage this. It started as a 'Let's find a better way to search for tee times' and then it continued on as 'There has to be a better way to organize the game of golf.'
"There are a lot of things out there that just don't exist for game management, so that's kind of how all this started and we'll just keep developing the idea list."
Players can sign up for free now at GolfPipeline.com. Golf course operators interested joining GolfPipeline.com, call Wroblewski or Gibbs directly at (414) 899-4100.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.