Golf GameBook is an app with a social twist – and is perfect for on-course and virtual get-togethers. Steve Carroll chatted to its creator
Arto Joensuu doesn’t want you just to think of Golf GameBook as an app. He sees it as a community.
There is nothing else quite like the Finnish firm’s tech out there for golfers. Part stats-gatherer, part social media platform, it’s wants to do far more than just tell you how good you are from 100 yards and in.
Ever been called out by your Facebook friends for sticking yet another video of a lovely golf course on your feed? We feel you. You’re about to find your natural home here.
“Golf is a massive niche,” Arto, Golf GameBook’s chief operating officer, tells NCG. “What we’ve seen is that there’s only a finite amount of golf related content that people want to share on their traditional social profiles.
“It’s like having that friend on Facebook who love cats and it’s, ‘OK, just keep it to 5%.’ But if pictures of their cats is 80% it gets boring.
“It’s the same with golf but then, on Golf GameBook, you know that everyone is just as twisted mentally around the game that it’s fine. You can share the golf related banter and content in that space.”
So you can create stories, add pictures, share scores, talk golf, and do it every time you’re on the course.
Create a diary of your golfing memories, one that’s always on hand, seared into your profile, and which can be shared with all your pals.
Think of it as a virtual clubhouse – one that now has more than a million registered users all over the world. It certainly adds some spice to a weekday roll-up.
Golf GameBook doesn’t just exist, though, in the digital world. It might be how you engage, but you can use it to run your real-life rounds.
Add in your fourball, choose the format, enter the handicaps, set nearest the pin, longest and straightest drive contests, and then off you go.
Enter the scores and it does the rest, with gross scores, how you’re doing to par or points, and a leaderboard. No more need for paper and pencil.
Challenges are a huge part of the fun. Whether that’s with your friends, or through the web. Can you hit 25 greens in a month? Who really is the longest driver? Compare yourself against a global audience and win prizes to boot.
It’s a lot more fun than just looking at strokes gained. But stats remain an important part of the Golf GameBook offering and the company have designed their features with their customers in mind.
“What we’ve introduced in this latest version has been very much a result of the feedback we’re getting,” Arto adds.
“We’re quite active in asking the community what kind of features they would want. Going forward, we want to bring in the stats perhaps from a bit of different angle – having that social component where you can compare to another person and then goal setting where you can have an aspirational target that you can strive against.”
Because, despite the unique social element, Golf GameBook is still grounded in trying to help you play better golf. And its core is the digital scorecard.
“That’s where you document your scores and you maintain your handicap and, naturally when you do that, statistics start playing a role.”
Click a map and a GPS hole guide fills the screen, allowing you to plot the best way around the course. Set yourself a handicap target and then use the categories to drill down and make it happen.
You’d expect to see a breakdown of birdies, pars, and bogeys, which fairways you’ve hit and how. But here you’ll also see how your score changes depending on whether you’ve found or sailed the short stuff.
You can laser down to just how much finding the fairway matters when it comes to getting on a green in regulation and see how and where you’re trailing your pals on the numbers front.
Arto explains: “We’ve introduced a lot more in terms of the stats offering – in terms of the individual stats you can collect.
“How close were you to the hole when you hit your first putt? How many penalty shots? How many chips? From that data, you can get a really well-rounded overview of where the areas of your game are where you fall short.
“You can set yourself goals. If you play off eight and you want to get down to six, the app will collect all the statistics from six handicappers, compare those to your eight, and give you guidance in terms of fairways hit, or in terms of average putts, and this is how much you need to shave off from your current handicap to get there.
“Then that social component comes into play. If we’re friends and we’ve played three, four, or how many rounds we’ve played together, we can compare our stats. We can have a head-to-head comparison.”
Enhance the Golf GameBook experience with a Gold membership and you get even more. GPS maps that expand into hole-by-hole statistics. You can turn on a Private Game mode – to get out on the course and collect all your stats but hide your presence from the outside world – and you can also run multi-group tournaments.
So, if you haven’t yet opened up a new world of golf, make sure to give it a try. You can have confidence that the people behind Golf GameBook are just like you. A community of passionate golfers.
“Everyone at the office is really into golf,” Arto says. “It’s easier to get feedback because we’re building the value proposition for you as a golfer. We do have a really active dialogue with our community to get their insights and their feedback as well.”
Golf GameBook is available from the Apple Store and Google Play.