Last week, a five-strong muirhoward squad landed in Spain to launch a new internal project ‘Golf Day Live’ at the EGCOA (European Golf Course Owners Association) conference in sunny Marbella.
Golf Day Live is an app for smart phones, which allows golfers to keep score and feature in a live leaderboard of the event they are participating in.
Our week in Marbella was hard work and lots of fun. We were to provide the live scoring solution for a 70-player tournament featuring some of the most influential people in the golf business.
Over a Cerveza or five we were recounting how we found ourselves here, in Marbella mixing with the golf industry and the TOWIE-types.
Stepping back a few months, this product was borne out of a gesture to one of our key clients in the financial services industry.
We wanted to showcase our digital skills and produce something that they would find engaging, fun and useful. A tool that would be light relief from the day-to-day business demands of banking.
We knew they loved golf, it was an instant decision, we were to create an application that would give them an experience akin to a professional tournament.
We wanted to create real drama and excitement for our client and their guests during their day on the field.
Live leaderboard in their pocket
Within a matter of weeks we were live scoring a large corporate event at Stoke Park, a prestigious golf club just outside of London. This was an early version of a product which was to eventually become Golf Day Live.
The feedback from the tournament was excellent, what people really loved was the ability to see how their colleagues and rivals were performing on the day via the live leaderboard in their pocket.
Other features such as a notifications/updates feature added to the ‘live’ experience and were well received.
It was clear that this was an enhancement of their day at the course and didn’t infringe in the slightest on their golf, if they loved it, then why wouldn’t anyone else?
It was only a few weeks in development, we managed to get it singing on the iPhone and the notion of cross-platform support would we help us establish a philosophy for our app.
This was to be an inclusive, not exclusive product. It could be something that could be opened up to all golfers and clubs and allow them to run live scoring for their members, tournaments, corporate days – anyone, all year round.
To achieve this we knew that we had to have a low barrier to entry for users of Golf Day Live.
This informed the decision to create the app using HTML-5 standards, we could deliver an ‘app-like’ experience, with full screen view and transitions, without the need to download from an app store. The player would simply punch in a URL at the course and live score.
We knew courses would be key in any business modelling, so allowing them ownership of the app and apply their branding was imperative.
Cutting out the hassle of the app store submission process was sensible in our early development, we could be lightweight and react quickly to any issues or implement feature updates.
We were to optimise our app across iPhone, Android and Blackberry OS. We wanted to make our app as simple as accessing a web page. If a player could do this, then they could use our app and get involved.
We knew we could also harness some of the cool features of HTML-5 development.
We established a way for the app to function in offline mode, players could keep score even if there was no mobile signal, we could sync scores as soon as a signal was established – that way there would be no fussing around waiting for a connection, the user experience was the same, signal or not.
We had built something that was lightweight and easy to use and had some very clear benefits not only for players but also for courses and brands.
We started touting our app around and while people understood what we were trying to achieve, there was lots of great feedback and it was clear to meet as many users as possible we had to incorporate as many scoring methods as possible.
Our beta app didn’t consider handicap and only supported stroke play, plus there was no team view leaderboard.
A product roadmap was established and top of the list was adding the Stableford scoring method and all of its variations.
As it stands we support Stableford, Stroke Play and Texas Scramble; the common formats for tournament/group play.
In tandem we worked on the optimisation, this proved our toughest task and a process, which will be in perpetual motion as handsets and operating systems continually evolve.
A late but key addition to our product suite was the inclusion of a clubhouse screen view. We built a version of our app optimised for 1080p HDTV screens, so we could extend the banter and excitement into the clubhouse.
The opportunity to live score in Marbella came out of the blue and it was an incredibly tight turnaround to meet the specific requirements of the EGCOA.
We boarded the plane with the latest version of our app about to spend a frenetic week, networking, demoing and live scoring.
As you can imagine, the week wasn’t without incident and in my next post, I’ll let you all know how it went as Golf Day Live landed in Marbella to launch a new live scoring product to the golf industry.
View our Flickr gallery of the fun we had in Marbs!