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SocialPutts: Looking for a Pilot group

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I'm looking for 8-12 interested golfers (or more, the more the merrier!) to act as a Pilot group for a free app., SocialPutts, that I developed to help golfers to play more golf.  The app. uses a proprietary calendar function to prompt you for your availability to play golf, check you and your buddies' calendars and propose times to play.  It include over 15,000 courses, 400+ public golfer groups and more.  We also work with a few courses to enable golfers to book tee times directly through the app.

A little background: My interest and my friends' interest in finding ways to play more golf together led me to develop SocialPutts following a guys' golf trip to Tampa.  It took forever to plan that trip, but it was one of the most relaxing, rejuvenating trips of our lives.  Over the years prior to the trip we had gradually squeezed golf out of our busy lives, but we came away from the trip believing and realizing that we were better, more balanced husbands and fathers when we made a point of having a little golf time to ourselves.  When we got home we didn't want to go back to how things were.  We wanted to find a way to make it easier to play golf more often.

We are all in our late 30's/early 40's, have young families, jobs, coach golf, soccer, baseball, attend dance recitals, struggle to fit in date nights, etc.  We have very busy but flexible schedules that can change quickly, and we wanted a way to see when everyone's available to play golf without the seemingly endless stream of texts, emails and phone calls trying to coordinate a tee time. 

What started as a hobby 4 years ago as www.socialputts.com has grown into the app. and is starting to gain interest outside of our circle of friends.  Friends are telling friends about it, and a few courses are interested in using it to unite their golfers to help them to play more often and grow course revenue.

I'm interested in getting your opinion of the app., what you like about it, what could be improved and if it's something you and your friends will use.   My goal is to have an app. that's useful to you.  Any and all feedback is appreciated.

SocialPutts (one word) is free on the AppStore (iOS) and Google Play (Android).  Please download it (links below) and let me know what you think.  Thanks!

AppStore: http://bit.ly/SPAppStore

Google Play: http://bit.ly/SPDroid

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Howdy, @socialputts. Though I rarely get the chance to play golf as much as many other members here, I signed up earlier today and had a few quick thoughts on the sign-up process.

In no order or importance:

  1. I don't like the text field bubbles that go off the screen. It makes the app look like it's not sized to fit properly on the screen.
  2. The screen shot at the bottom says "personolize" instead of "personalize."
  3. I can't go back to step 1.
  4. Step 1 listed ONE course nearby, within about a mile, despite the fact that I live within five miles of three golf courses, and within 30 miles of many, many more.
  5. You ask for access to my contacts, but I guard that safely. I granted permission to access my location while using the app, but for my contacts, I would like to know exactly what you're going to do with all of them before I grant you access. I don't want them sent any email, or notifications, etc. I have a LOT of contacts, some of whom I'd never play golf with, or who don't even play golf.

2017-07-12 09.29.12.png

I encourage other members to give this a try. I've pinned the topic, too, and would like to welcome you as our newest sponsor.

 

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I joined yesterday, @socialputts. We appreciate you joining the sponsor program, and also we appreciate that you didn't just join up pushing any agenda. You joined in various discussions, you seem to get the spirit of the site, and only after establishing yourself as a decent guy did you join the sponsorship program. I think that speaks well for you. 

With that said, here are some initial thoughts:

  1. I keep getting this mesage on the web site to update my address, which I already have:Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 10.20.04 AM.png
  2. I'm not able to update the State in my profile. Perhaps that's why the alert above? The State block is grayed out, even though the City block above it shows the City and State and Country.
  3. When entering a score, it didn't ask me how many holes I played. With a social focus on the app, I'd imagine there'll be lots of non-18 hole rounds, so you might have a way to indicate # holes played. 
  4. My search for courses has a very strange order when I plug in my zip code. The familiar ones close to me do show up, but they get lost in a list that includes stuff that is quite far away. Perhaps it's possible to sort by distance?
  5. When I go to book a tee time for my course Twin Lakes Oaks in Clifton, VA, I get sent to a county government web page, and I get lost.  The site uses EZLinks and there's a direct link that can be used. Not sure how you'd manage the tee sheet booking system for every course in the USA. 

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Thanks for checking it out, @iacas.  It's by no means perfect yet, and this is the exact kind of feedback I was hoping for.  In response to your comments:

1. You're not the first person to mention this.  We will definitely be changing this in the next version

2. Thanks for catching this typo (definitely embarrassing)

3. and 4. Through the last few iterations of the app. I'm been riding the fence a bit, trying to help golfers play their favorite courses more often while also allowing courses to get their golfers on board and connected.  I need to 'pick a side'.  Only one course displays because we have several courses that are getting tehir golfers to sign up for the app. in their clubhouse.  They only want golfers in their clubhouse to see their course.  This doesn't prevent golfers from adding other favorite courses by searching for and adding them, it just keeps them from adding a bunch of favorites initially.  

5. The app asks for acess to your contacts to make it easy for you to invite them to download the app.  The app. taps into your contacts and lists them and you can check which ones to invite ans invote them all at once.  I see and agree with your point and need to be clearer about why we are asking for access.

I cannot begin to thank you enough for your thoughtful feedback.  This is exactly what I was hoping for.

2 hours ago, iacas said:

Howdy, @socialputts. Though I rarely get the chance to play golf as much as many other members here, I signed up earlier today and had a few quick thoughts on the sign-up process.

In no order or importance:

  1. I don't like the text field bubbles that go off the screen. It makes the app look like it's not sized to fit properly on the screen.
  2. The screen shot at the bottom says "personolize" instead of "personalize."
  3. I can't go back to step 1.
  4. Step 1 listed ONE course nearby, within about a mile, despite the fact that I live within five miles of three golf courses, and within 30 miles of many, many more.
  5. You ask for access to my contacts, but I guard that safely. I granted permission to access my location while using the app, but for my contacts, I would like to know exactly what you're going to do with all of them before I grant you access. I don't want them sent any email, or notifications, etc. I have a LOT of contacts, some of whom I'd never play golf with, or who don't even play golf.

2017-07-12 09.29.12.png

I encourage other members to give this a try. I've pinned the topic, too, and would like to welcome you as our newest sponsor.

 

 

Edited by socialputts

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2 hours ago, No Mulligans said:

Are you planning on monetizing the app?  If so, how?

@No Mulligans, the short answer is yes, I would love to.  I'd like nothing more than to do what I love to do while helping golfers play a little more golf and helping courses to make a little more $ so that more of them can keep the lights on.

'How' has been the toughest question for me to nail down, and the feedback from you and your fellow TST members will most likely drive what we decide to do.

At the risk of boring you, here are the options we're considering.  I'd love to here your opinion.

1. Charge golfers a fee for the app. Provide a monthly option and an annual option.  Maybe $0.99/month, $9.99/yr.  Something nominal

2. Ask golfers who like the app. to donate to support the app., much like TST

3. Charge golfers a fee for booking tee times through the app.

- the industry, as a whole, is going away from this, but a $.99 convenience charge for booking a tee time might be OK

- To do this we'd need either:

A. a relationship with each course and permission to access their data (right now we can do this for any courses currently also on teeoff.com). The 'plus' to this is that we can get a commission from the course. The downside is that we have to sell EVERY course individually, which limits the golfers who can book tee times to geographic regions and courses where we've been able to secure these agreements.

B. an affiliate relationship with EZLinks, GolfNow, etc to access tee times across their many courses immediately.  Downside is we would get pennies for each tee time we book and setup fees are usually $5,000+ labor. Might have to consider this and a small fee to golfers.

---

Lots of variable to consider.  I've spoken with many course owners, PGA professional and members of the NGCOA as well.  My one goal is to make sure the app. is useful to golfers, ideally while also helping the courses.  The best solution down the road eliminates middle men like GolfNow.  Golfers love the hot deals, but courses lose $ and perceived value with these bartered tee times, and golfers who don't book hot deals usually pay more on GolfNow than they would if they contacted the course directly. 

Apologies for the long winded answer.  Thank you for your feedback.

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1 hour ago, RandallT said:

I joined yesterday, @socialputts. We appreciate you joining the sponsor program, and also we appreciate that you didn't just join up pushing any agenda. You joined in various discussions, you seem to get the spirit of the site, and only after establishing yourself as a decent guy did you join the sponsorship program. I think that speaks well for you. 

With that said, here are some initial thoughts:

  1. I keep getting this mesage on the web site to update my address, which I already have:Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 10.20.04 AM.png
  2. I'm not able to update the State in my profile. Perhaps that's why the alert above? The State block is grayed out, even though the City block above it shows the City and State and Country.
  3. When entering a score, it didn't ask me how many holes I played. With a social focus on the app, I'd imagine there'll be lots of non-18 hole rounds, so you might have a way to indicate # holes played. 
  4. My search for courses has a very strange order when I plug in my zip code. The familiar ones close to me do show up, but they get lost in a list that includes stuff that is quite far away. Perhaps it's possible to sort by distance?
  5. When I go to book a tee time for my course Twin Lakes Oaks in Clifton, VA, I get sent to a county government web page, and I get lost.  The site uses EZLinks and there's a direct link that can be used. Not sure how you'd manage the tee sheet booking system for every course in the USA. 

@RandallT, thanks for joining SocialPutts, for your feedback and for the kind words.  I genuinely love the TST site and I would have joined whether I had the SocialPutts app. or not.  Feedback on the app. is important to me, I'd like to know if I've 'got something' or if I don't.  But it's equally important to me that I work on and improve my golf game and be able to share the process with the community.  My 10 year old son started playing PGAJLG and I've gotta get better or he'll be beating me VERY soon!

Responses to your feedback:

1. and 2. I will look into this.  Should have been able to select city, state, zip from a Google dropdown list and have this all populated

3. Will make this change in upcoming releases.  Thank you.  We haven't been focusing much on the website the last few months, all energy has been on the mobile app., so this can use some updating.

4. I will look into this.  It should be by distance.  

5. We do not integrate with all course tee sheets.  We have a few courses on board, but that a very manual sales effort at this point and is currently restricted to courses who are also on teeoff.com  The best we can do for all courses is send you to their website to book a tee time.

Thanks for checking out the app.  Please continue to poke around on the website and app. and let me know your thoughts.  Thanks!

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Welcome to TST! I downloaded the app as well. I like it so far, the concept is nice.

I set a number of the courses that I frequent to my favorites list, and when I went to view the course information, it would have been cool if I could have clicked on the address and then that opened a GPS/map app on my phone with the directions. google maps, waze, etc instead of having to copy the address out of there and pasting it into google maps. Not as big of a deal on the courses I frequent, but would be nice for ones that are further away or ones I havent been to before.

Also, I linked the app with my facebook, the process was quick and seamless. Nice job there.

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1 hour ago, klineka said:

Welcome to TST! I downloaded the app as well. I like it so far, the concept is nice.

I set a number of the courses that I frequent to my favorites list, and when I went to view the course information, it would have been cool if I could have clicked on the address and then that opened a GPS/map app on my phone with the directions. google maps, waze, etc instead of having to copy the address out of there and pasting it into google maps. Not as big of a deal on the courses I frequent, but would be nice for ones that are further away or ones I havent been to before.

Also, I linked the app with my facebook, the process was quick and seamless. Nice job there.

@klineka Thanks for downloading the app.  Glad you like the concept and thanks for the feedback regarding opening a GPS/map when you click an address.  We will definitely add that to future releases.

In the meantime, if you go to Courses, click the spyglass in the header to Find a Course and hit the Find Nearest button, it will pull up a map of all the courses near you starting with the nearest.  This still won't get you directions, but you can see where the courses are on the map.

Please let me know if you've invited any friends and your thoughts on those functions.  Thanks!

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2 hours ago, socialputts said:

3. and 4. Through the last few iterations of the app. I'm been riding the fence a bit, trying to help golfers play their favorite courses more often while also allowing courses to get their golfers on board and connected.  I need to 'pick a side'.  Only one course displays because we have several courses that are getting tehir golfers to sign up for the app. in their clubhouse.  They only want golfers in their clubhouse to see their course.  This doesn't prevent golfers from adding other favorite courses by searching for and adding them, it just keeps them from adding a bunch of favorites initially.

I understand the desire of courses to just show you the course. I suppose because I live within 1/2 mile of a course, the app may have thought I was AT the course, so it just showed me the one course.

Perhaps a good alternative is to show the one course, but then in smaller text show some text like "add other courses" or something. Small enough that it's not the first instinct of anyone to want to click it - they'll still be satisfied to see the course they're at right then - but present still so someone like me can add more courses without wondering if the database is really limited or something.

2 hours ago, socialputts said:

5. The app asks for acess to your contacts to make it easy for you to invite them to download the app.  The app. taps into your contacts and lists them and you can check which ones to invite ans invote them all at once.  I see and agree with your point and need to be clearer about why we are asking for access.

Yeah, I figured it might be as much, but if you spell out what the "allow access to contacts" is going to do with the access before the app prompts you, you'll find more people are willing to allow access. Nervous people or private people might not allow access because they think you might be doing nefarious things with their contacts. Other apps - before yours by years - would upload contact lists to the servers of the companies, and they'd then email the other people or sell the other contact info to spammers, etc. It happened in even some pretty big-name apps.

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@RandallT  Not sure what happened with your city, state, country info in SocialPutts, we will look into it, but I went in the back end and fixed your data, so hopefully now you're all set.  Thanks!

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I downloaded the app, but am having a little trouble figuring out exactly what it's supposed to help me do that I don't already do with a quick group text to my buddies.

Is there a tutorial that I'm missing?

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1 hour ago, David in FL said:

I downloaded the app, but am having a little trouble figuring out exactly what it's supposed to help me do that I don't already do with a quick group text to my buddies.

Is there a tutorial that I'm missing?

@David in FL, thanks for downloading the app.  I will post a tutorial, but the most utilized feature is the calendar.   Golfers set when they can play golf on the calendar and the app. lets you know when your availble time coincides with your buddies.  When a buddy updates their calendar or their time coincides with your golf time you get a push notification and an email.  You can also browse your friends' calendars to see when they are available to play golf to see if you can fit their schedule.  We also have public and private groups and by selecting a favorite course you can see who else has that course as a favorite and you can invite themt o be your buddy through the app.  I addition to the app., the website (www.socialputts.com) allows you to search for golfers by course, handicap, playing preference etc. so you can find golfers similar to yourself to play your local courses.

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7 minutes ago, socialputts said:

@David in FL, thanks for downloading the app.  I will post a tutorial, but the most utilized feature is the calendar.   Golfers set when they can play golf on the calendar and the app. lets you know when your availble time coincides with your buddies.  When a buddy updates their calendar or their time coincides with your golf time you get a push notification and an email.  You can also browse your friends' calendars to see when they are available to play golf to see if you can fit their schedule.  We also have public and private groups and by selecting a favorite course you can see who else has that course as a favorite and you can invite themt o be your buddy through the app.  I addition to the app., the website (www.socialputts.com) allows you to search for golfers by course, handicap, playing preference etc. so you can find golfers similar to yourself to play your local courses.

So if I'm understanding, everyone needs to keep a current calendar on the app?  Can it synch to other calendars that they already might maintain, like an Outlook calendar, or do they need to do this one independently?

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15 minutes ago, David in FL said:

So if I'm understanding, everyone needs to keep a current calendar on the app?  Can it synch to other calendars that they already might maintain, like an Outlook calendar, or do they need to do this one independently?

I'm just trying out the calendar feature now. I think the phone app asked me if I wanted to connect my iphone calendar to the app, and I said no. (I could be wrong).

I've now edited my calendar in the app (both on the web and on my phone). I like how it lets me designate free times like that- and for specific courses, if I choose.

I didn't want the app to see my calendar though, just for privacy. Does @socialputts really need to see my doctor appointments?

Also, @socialputts, the Town/State thing happens on my browser (Chrome on a mac- latest versions).  Here's what it looks like with the State field grayed out (cannot edit):

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 5.37.06 PM.png

If I try to edit my city, I get this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 5.37.19 PM.png

If I select one of these, then "Herndon VA, United States" all gets put into the City field.  

But I see you've modified my data to remove all that, so it's just city again. Thanks! But I can overwrite that again, I think. Not sure if it's just my platform, or if you see that on other web users.

Added: I'd recommend highlighting the calendar feature somehow, now that you've made it clear that you think that's a key feature (I agree). As a user who just installed it, that didn't immediately jump out at me, but now helps me see how organizing an outing with friends would be easier now with this ability to see free time. (now I'll just need everyone to update it)

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I was thinking more in terms of the time/inconvenience of having to maintain separate calendars.

Are you designating time that's specifically available for golf, or does the calendar recognize available free time based on previously scheduled items?

 

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16 hours ago, David in FL said:

So if I'm understanding, everyone needs to keep a current calendar on the app?  Can it synch to other calendars that they already might maintain, like an Outlook calendar, or do they need to do this one independently?

It doesn't sync 100% (yet), this is by design, but there is integration.  The SocialPutts calendar pulls and displays your info from other calendars on your device, so when you go into the SP calendar you can see other things you have scheduled and plan golf around those tasks.  Also, when you book a tee time through the app. you have the option of adding it to other calendars.  

We didn't go with complete sync out of the gate because initial feedback was that golfers didn't necessarily want the time they were available to play golf showing up on their work calendars or personal calendars their spouses could view.  We're discussing iotions for just blocking it out as 'busy' or including permissions that allow golfers to decide which calendars contain the task and at what level of detail.  As you can probably imagine, individual preferences vary quite a bit.

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15 hours ago, David in FL said:

I was thinking more in terms of the time/inconvenience of having to maintain separate calendars.

Are you designating time that's specifically available for golf, or does the calendar recognize available free time based on previously scheduled items?

 

@David in FL The calendar doesn't just pull all of your free time from your other calendars.  We actually prototyped this and it caused a bit of confusion. The feedback was that just because a slot was free on a personal calendar didn't necessarily mean the person was available to play golf.  

We decided to have the golfer designate specific times they knew they could play golf on the SocialPutts calendar.  The premise is that when you see a buddy is available to play golf, you are 100% certain they can play (since they entered their availability) and you can go forward and book a tee time without a lot of back and forth.

16 hours ago, RandallT said:

I'm just trying out the calendar feature now. I think the phone app asked me if I wanted to connect my iphone calendar to the app, and I said no. (I could be wrong).

I've now edited my calendar in the app (both on the web and on my phone). I like how it lets me designate free times like that- and for specific courses, if I choose.

I didn't want the app to see my calendar though, just for privacy. Does @socialputts really need to see my doctor appointments?

Also, @socialputts, the Town/State thing happens on my browser (Chrome on a mac- latest versions).  Here's what it looks like with the State field grayed out (cannot edit):

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 5.37.06 PM.png

If I try to edit my city, I get this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 5.37.19 PM.png

If I select one of these, then "Herndon VA, United States" all gets put into the City field.  

But I see you've modified my data to remove all that, so it's just city again. Thanks! But I can overwrite that again, I think. Not sure if it's just my platform, or if you see that on other web users.

Added: I'd recommend highlighting the calendar feature somehow, now that you've made it clear that you think that's a key feature (I agree). As a user who just installed it, that didn't immediately jump out at me, but now helps me see how organizing an outing with friends would be easier now with this ability to see free time. (now I'll just need everyone to update it)

@RandallT Thanks for providing the details, this is definitely a bug.  We will get this taken care of.  

SocialPutts doesn't need to see your calendar....but if you give the app. access to your calendars your appointments will display on the SocialPutts calendar (for only you to see), so you can more easily determine when you can play golf without having to toggle back and forth between calendars.

I love your suggestion to make the calendar front and center. It is the key to the app.  We will explore our options and as always, suggestions are welcome.  Maybe a brief walkthrough on the app. or a way to prompt users from the home screen.  We will make this happen.  Thanks!

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