“We wanted to make golf a lot more social and fun,” says Eddy Lui, founder and CEO of 18Birdies, which he set out to build after bemoaning a gap in the market for an app that could simultaneously improve his game, keep track of his long-term performance, and connect him with friends and fellow fanatics of the sport. “We’re reimagining the entire golf experience using smarter technology.”
The app—which is currently available for iPhone and Android in a beta version, before it officially launches at the end of January—includes a proprietary GPS+ system and a database of every course in the U.S., allowing users to see a high-resolution aerial satellite view of individual holes. It gives calculated distances from a player’s exact location on the tee box, fairway or putting green to the hole, in addition to a “blind-shot compass” for suggested direction of play—a particularly useful feature for users who find themselves down in a bunker or deep in the trees.
But Lui says early testers of 18Birdies are most excited about the app’s social-networking assets. It not only keeps track of real-time play among a selected group or groups, but it will broadcast a player’s photos, videos, messages and scores in real-time to the app’s own social feed or Facebook. It can also connect golfers who’ve never met using their location, a shared favorite course or skill level, even letting them book a tee time at participating courses.
“Golfers often complain that they don’t have enough people to play with,” explains Lui, noting that the app, which is Apple Watch compatible, is easy enough to use by people of any age but is aimed at millennials, who he says are largely overlooked by the golfing industry. “This matches you with people nearby who play on your level and builds out a golfer’s local community of fellow players.”