Global Edition

Can Innovation Save Irish Golf?

12.30am 8th December 2010 - Management Topics - This story was updated on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

John McGuire, CEO of imeeGOLF, whose company is developing products designed to help track and improve a golfer’s game, believes Ireland needs to innovate when it comes to the future of Golf.

“For a small country with world class golf courses and world class golfers, I think we ignore the market for golf equipment, technology and social media. Everybody knows that indigenous Irish companies are the future for the economy, why not link our innovation with a sport that we are world leaders in?”

Ireland is a golfing island. It boasts over 400 courses, two of which (Ballybunion and Royal County Down) are considered in the world’s top ten by

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell feature in the World’s top ten player rankings and Padraig Harrington, the three time Major winner, slightly positioned behind. We have never been in a stronger position and yet too narrow a focus on our development has lead to significant problems in Irish golf.

In November the news came that the phone network “3” were pulling their sponsorship of the Irish open putting the future of the competition in doubt. Tourist numbers visiting the country have fallen, and this has lead to a similar decrease of green fees. Golf clubs are laying off staff as they struggle to remain afloat. What can be done to fix this juxtaposition?

Ireland needs to use technology and social media to help maintain and grow the game in this country. At a very basic level, children are more likely to play golf on a Nintendo Wii rather than on a golf course. These children should be the future Harrington’s and McIlroys. They are the future members of the 400 golf courses in this country.

“imeeGOLF are a great example of how a company can innovate a traditional industry. Brands such as Callaway, Nike and others in the golf industry, alongside high profile investors, recognise that imeeGOLF is a game changer. We are dragging golf into the 21st century,” says McGuire. “We are using cutting edge technology as we develop our device. We are building a community of fans through free mediums like Facebook and Twitter (@imeeGOLFhq), which allow our followers to access online golf coaches and online golf psychologists. We live in a digital age; let us embrace the technology and the potential it allows us.

“Filling green fees and producing golfers is merely the tip of the iceberg. With innovation comes increased revenue for indigenous Irish companies, increased exports and new jobs. With an estimated 50 million golfers in the world, and with the sport growing in emerging markets, there is phenomenal opportunity for innovation in this industry.”

Ireland has always relied on its natural advantages, coastal beauty, mountain ranges, views and mild climate. McGuire is focused on changing this viewpoint.

“Irish companies need to take the lead in golf innovation, our natural resources are no longer enough. imeeGOLF is still in stealth mode. When it comes to telling the world about exactly what we are developing, our website,, does not tell the full story and is merely a brochure site for our coaching system at present. What is coming over the next few months will do for the golf industry what Amazon did for personalisation and eBay did for purchasing. This is new, and it is fresh, hence the phenomenal response and success we are having.

“We are progressing at a rapid rate as our followers on Facebook and Twitter will soon be able to attest to. Growing on a global scale, means job creation in imeeGOLF’s Galway headquarters, imeeGOLF becoming a global brand and Ireland being seen as the market leader in golf business.”

If other golf startups were to follow suit, not only would the Irish golf industry thrive but associated industries, the traditional: hotels, catering, tourism and the non-traditional: software, manufacturing and IT, would also get the significant boost that they need. 8,000 people are presently employed in the golf sector, but why so relatively few? Why are we not exploiting our position within the golf community? Where is the Irish designed and manufactured golf equipment? Where is the innovation?

Innovation will make the Irish golf sector boom claims McGuire: “Given the popularity of the game in this country, our rich history and current success in the sport, why are we ignoring the sector? I respect the traditions and etiquette of golf but what imeeGOLF will be offering a new experience for all those that play the sport. Golf will no longer be just a good walked spoilt, there is much more to come!”


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