A caddie from Northern Ireland is looking to bring the process of how caddies are assigned to golfers into the 21st century with the launch of a new online business.
HandiCaddie is a web-based company that is launching an App that matches up caddies with players through a database of registered caddies, allowing players to pick the right caddie for a specific round of golf or even an entire golf trip if required.
HandiCaddie is the brainchild of Graham Curry, an experienced caddie based at Castlerock Golf Club who found the nature of the current system for booking caddies slightly out of step with the times.
He said: “Over the past few years I have witnessed many inefficiencies at golf clubs in their dealings with caddies. All caddies are currently arranged via phone calls, spreadsheets and commonly Whatsapp groups to notify caddies of jobs. This creates a lot of work for golf club staff, who are often club professionals who also have shops to run and lessons to conduct, as well as managing tee times and facilitating members’ request. They complete administrative work by hand, not digitally. Also, golfers don’t get to choose their caddies, as they are assigned randomly, so this can often create a less-than-optimal experience for both parties.
“From speaking to clubs throughout Ireland, I’ve discovered that venues are often left short of caddies on certain days, meaning that visiting golfers aren’t always guaranteed a caddie. On the flipside, some caddies are often required to wait around for hours until players arrive, which can be equally frustrating.”
He added: “Our platform is like the Uber for caddies. Golfers visiting the UK and Ireland will be able to access caddie profiles and reviews, allowing them to select their ideal caddies for their trips, adding a bespoke and personalised touch to the golfer’s experience. Golfers can then review their caddie’s performance on our platform after the round. And as caddies will be able to set their availability well in advance, golf clubs will be able to manage their caddie programme through the click of a button, saving considerable amounts of time on admin. These issues have been my main motive to create a platform that aims to revolutionise the way golf caddies are booked and arranged.”
The ability to book caddies is especially important for golf tourism in Northern Ireland, especially from Americans, who make up more than half of the total visitors to the region each year, and 80% of which make use of caddies during their golf trips. Of those bookings, just less than a third book their caddie through a golf club directly – the rest (roughly 70%) book through a golf tour operator.
While the final website is still being trialled, Curry envisions a monetization strategy that will take a 10 per cent commission on every caddie booking.
Curry said: “There are huge benefits to booking a caddie and gaining knowledge from them during your round of golf. At my club it costs £40 to book a caddie, while at Royal Portrush, host venue for last year’s Open Championship, it’s still only £55 for an elite caddie.”
HandieCaddie has already generated significant interest among the golfing community, with Ardglass agreeing to trial the platform once Covid-19 regulations allow the use of caddies, while several other top flight clubs, including Royal Dublin, Portmarnock, Royal Portrush, plus four tour operators, have also expressed interests about signing up.
Caddies will be able to sign up through creating a profile on an app that is launching in August, subject to Covid-19 regulations being lifted. Once a caddie has created a profile, they simply select a Handicaddie partner club that they wish to work at. Once the golf club has verified the profile, they’re ready to work.
Curry added: “Whilst things are still up in the air regarding golfers travelling to the UK and Ireland this summer, we are proactively working on finalising our software, as well as completing user testing, which will lead us up to trialling our platform in golf clubs later this year. In the meantime, caddies can visit our landing page website, Handicaddie.com, and sign up.
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