Hey everyone, I'm Evan Teshima, co-founder and president of foreUP and I’m super excited to welcome you out to our first-ever foreUP virtual summit.
We started foreUP almost 10 years ago and time has really flown by. The best part of running this company has been being able to work with golf course operators such as yourselves. Since the beginning, we have believed in creating software that is built by course operators for course operators.
We've worked hand-in-hand with customers, developing the software and will continue to do so in the future. We truly see you all more as partners as we navigate the ever-changing waters in the golf industry.
The future of golf
I'm also super excited about what has happened in the golf industry the last 18 months.
Rounds in 2020 were up 14 percent, and in just January through March this year rounds have been up 24.3 percent — that's 36.9 million golfers that we saw last year and even more that we'll see this year. Included with that, 12.6 million of those golfers were non-golf course participants, meaning they played at Topgolf, simulators, or just anywhere that's not a golf course.
This is amazing for golf course operators because we're going to see these golfers transition to green grass golf. There are also studies from the NGF that show since the pandemic, 50 percent of non-retired golfers surveyed said they've been playing more golf than they have in the past and they're playing more in the afternoon and evening times. They’re also playing a lot more nine-hole rounds. These are twilight times that we're filling up which is amazing for the golf industry.
Being in the tech world myself, I do not see remote work going away anytime soon; I see a lot more flexibility for our core golfers to golf more. This last week I was with my eight-year-old son during a junior league event.
At our club, there are usually about 20 to 25 kids that play. However, this last week we had 50 and the last several weeks we've had 50 every time. That's double the amount of kids than what we're typically seeing. This is an amazing thing that our club has never seen before.
Driving the industry
It’s so great to see growth in this game of golf. When I founded foreUP, the vision was simple: give golf courses the technology they desperately needed and couldn't get anywhere else. As an avid golfer, I interacted with course operators frequently and I started to see that the industry as a whole was behind in terms of operational technology.
I mean, back in the day if a golf course wanted a system, a representative from the POS company would have to come on site, set up a server, install the software onto one to two terminals, and then train the staff on how to use a software that looked like a spreadsheet built in DOS.
Those systems were bulky, they took way too many clicks to perform any action, they were difficult to use, and you could only access them from the computers at the course. On top of that, you would have to shut down the system for hours to run new updates that only came once a year.
We knew these legacy systems were not the systems of the future. We knew that the cloud would allow us to build software that was accessible from any location and any device, didn’t require an on-site server, and allowed us to build and release new features at literally 10 times the speed of our competitors. It would allow us to catch up to our competitors in a short amount of time and then surpass them.
Fast forward nine years later and here we are today making this vision a reality. We have a robust all-in-one cloud-based system that serves over 1500 golf courses, 700 of which have come on in the last 18 months. We take care of courses ranging from destination courses to private clubs to municipalities to your local nine-hole facilities.
Empowering our clients
We want our clients to know how grateful we are for you and the trust that you have put into us to be your technology provider. I want all of you to know that we are 100 percent dedicated to your success and we do this by focusing on providing you with a technology that is constantly progressing to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing world in golf, always ensuring you have access to support professionals that will help you resolve issues, train you to operate the software, and tailor the software to your course's needs.
Our support team knows that while the facilities that operate with foreUP are businesses, the people who are operating them are humans and we treat them that way. Our desire for your success is real and if you have an experience that makes you feel otherwise, I encourage you to reach out to your account manager and let them know you're not getting what you need.
Our system is all-in-one; our tee sheet isn't integrated with another point of sale, they are one and the same. Our billing is done directly in the same system rather than working through disjointed connections. Even the third-party integrated tools in our app store are thoughtfully built to allow you to live inside of one system.
By owning the core functions of the software, we are able to improve upon and constantly update our system to keep you on the cutting edge of technology.
We get many suggestions from users every day and our product teams view and catalog every request. You as our users can always view these requests and add your comments or votes to help us know which things are most important to you. I believe these things set us apart from all other companies in our market.
Changes at foreUP
It's been a long and wonderful road so far but we are nowhere near done — a few months ago we joined a family of other software companies in this and similar industries.
There was concern among some of our clients that the change would interrupt the flow of our development, decrease the quality of our product, or change the way they interact with our team members. I'm happy to have the chance to personally reassure you that nothing has changed.
foreUP operates independently while receiving valuable insight from our sister companies that have been navigating these or similar waters in the last few years.
Let me say it another way: we are still running foreUP. Our chief technology officer, who will be presenting a session today, is still driving the development of our tools. Our client operations team is still under the same leadership and following the same guidelines for the quality of their support. We still invest our budget into our product and our support services. We will be there through every change the industry throws your way, constantly innovating, constantly working with our clients to identify where our expertise, tools, and services can be of the most value.
Our priority is saving you time by automating more and more of the tasks that you've had to do manually, getting you out of the office and back in front of your golfers, or even playing a round of your own. We have a vision: to build the future of golf by empowering the businesses that run it; businesses like yours. Our love of this industry is real, and we're excited to continue doing what we love for many years to come.
The 2021 virtual summit
Now let's get on with the summit! Our teams have worked hard to identify the topics that will best benefit you and your businesses. The sessions they've prepared are all focused on “building for the future.”
The topics, which are segmented by a business track and a software track, are intended to help ensure that your courses and clubs are able to maintain the success of their businesses as we come off the unique 2020 season, one which brought many unexpected challenges but also brought the benefit of new golfers and increased rounds.
COVID aside, the needs of our industry are constantly changing. Some businesses are adapting well and others are struggling to bring their operations up to speed enough to be competitive.
The demographic of golfers is changing, the ways people interact with businesses and the people in their lives are continually changing, competitors improve their operations or their marketing, leaving you to keep up or back down.
A goal for this year's virtual summit is to give you as operators some best practices to help ensure that your businesses are equipped with the knowledge and insight you need to combat these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities you may not even know exist.
Please let us know how we've done as this is our first conference. We expect some kinks and we hope you'll provide us with the feedback that will allow us to create a better conference for you in 2022 and on from there. On that note, I wish you a wonderful day of sessions and a successful 2021 season for your business.