I am pleased to introduce a new series on the blog — A Casual 9 — where I prod smart and important people in the industry with 9 super great questions in hopes their answers and ideas provide value and a new dimension of content to the reader. Like a casual 9 holes of golf, it is intended to be fun and entertaining without taking up too much of your time.
I am stoked to kick it off with a name Calgary knows and loves – Roger Kingkade. Roger spent 10 years on the radio making commutes and workdays much more enjoyable for Calgarians. His recent exit from radio has freed up time to work on his entrepreneurial swagger. Roger is the founder of Offcourse Golf and has a tremendous perspective on business and golf. Please enjoy.
1. So a lot of people in Calgary may still be wondering – what the heck have you been up to lately?
RK: Lately, it’s been go, go, GO! Offcourse Golf has really taken off in recent months since we’ve started offering our app for customization at golf courses. When you’re half of a two-man operation, there’s not much time to sit still. It feels good to be busy. I occasionally bump into people who wonder about my radio show and stuff. I had an amazing time on the radio over the past 10 years. The media business is tough right now and, well, sometimes people lose their gigs. I just took it as an opportunity to pour my focus into Offcourse and it’s been awesome.
2. Tell us a bit about your golf game. Do you feel more pressure when you’re on the air or standing on the first tee?
RK: The first tee, without a doubt. I felt very comfortable behind a microphone. I never really thought much about it. On the first tee, though, yikes. It’s not performance anxiety or anything like that. It’s that I feel like I’m setting the tone for my round with this first shot, so I stress about it a bit. I should probably try to get over that.
3. Give us some background on your business, Offcourse, and how you came up with the idea.
RK: I guess it’s just another story that starts with “we were having a beer and…” Josh (my business partner) and I wanted to make an app that would track our stats so we could get better. I swear, he had the first version of Offcourse developed the following morning. Since then, we’ve tried a few different ways to work with businesses and golfers. The track we’re on now, customizing apps for golf courses, really adds a lot of value for both those parties.
4. Where do you ultimately see Offcourse in the future, and what do you think your biggest hurdles are to get there?
RK: You know what, we’re adding new golf courses to our roster every week. We’ll continue to grow as more and more golfers look for courses that include a mobile experience in their product offering. The biggest, hurdle? Getting in front of as many people as possible to get our message out. Like I said, it’s a two-man show.
5. The golf industry is a fiercely competitive market. What advice would you give someone who has an idea and wants to turn it into a business within the golf industry?
RK: I always look at it from a value perspective. The fact that golf, or any market, is fiercely competitive is a great thing. That’s how you know there’s opportunity. In our case, I ask “what value does our product and service provide to our customers?” For me specifically, I ask what value I bring to our company and our customers and their customers. It’s all about adding value to the chain.
6. Do you think the game of golf is healthy here in Alberta and across Canada?
RK: I do. I read the headlines as anybody else does about “golf is dying.” But I see what TopGolf is doing with the sport and getting people to come for the fun, not the skill. I think it’s an opportunity for a lot of golf brands and properties to find more meaningful ways of bringing in customers and by extension their families and friends. Golf is a difficult sport, but it’s an easy way to spend 5 or 6 hours in great company.
7. What can golf courses do to attract more players and provide more value to the golfer?
RK: There’s a lot to be said about engagement and customized experiences. That sounds really difficult, but the great golf clubs have been doing that forever. Calling people by name, making them feel like big shots, inviting them to come back for something “off the menu” and stuff like that. People don’t want to feel like one of the herd anymore and it doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to make people feel special. Lots of businesses do stuff like that.
8. What are your favorite golf courses, or maybe more importantly, what are your favorite courses to stay and have a beer at after the round?
RK: This is a tough one. There’s a good reason I’m not a member anywhere. It’s because I like to play around. I enjoy a lot of Sunday mornings at Sirocco; always a great test! Inglewood is a special place to play with the Bow River rushing by and the downtown as a backdrop. The 17th at Valley Ridge is a beautiful hole; one of the best in the city. The 27 holes out at Elbow Springs are fantastic and always feel like a mini escape from town. And out of town we’ve got some really great courses offering substantial value in Carstairs and Strathmore. The best finish in the city, in my mind, goes to The Winston – 16, 17, and 18 are a really fun test. I’m excited to see that course undergo it’s transition over the next few seasons.
And many more that don’t come to mind at the moment.
9. I write a fair bit on the importance of the mental game here on the blog. What do you find is your biggest mental challenge out on the course?
RK: For me, it’s being comfortable playing well. Does that sound strange? I had a round down south last winter where I was one-under after 8. That’s unreal for me. I usually shoot mid-eighties. You know what I shot that day? Mid-eighties! I got myself so freaked out, I started to play differently. What’s your advice to help me break through that barrier?
A big thanks to Roger for taking the time to do this. Loved his thoughts on business and the state of golf. The bar has been set! As far as advice for #9, we may need to leave that for a separate post, but hopefully some readers will chime in with their ideas to help Roger keep his great rounds going.
For more info on how a custom app can benefit your golf course, or to get in touch with Roger, visit the Offcourse Golf site. Also check out our review of the Offcourse Golf App, which tracks your stats and more.
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