Parbuddy, a new mobile rewards app that allows golfers to earn free gear and green fees, launched on Long Island earlier this month in partnership with two facilities in the ClubCorp family of courses -- Wind Watch Golf & Country Club in Hauppauge and Willow Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai.
The Parbuddy app is designed to help make golf more affordable by rewarding players with points for every dollar spent at participating courses, whether it's on tee times, in the pro shop or at the bar and grill. Simply checking in at the course on social media earns players five points, good enough for a $5 Starbucks eGift card.
Carlton Bennett, founder of Parbuddy, Inc., says the rewards app is beneficial to those on both sides of the register. With more than 10 years experience in business development, Bennett is familiar with the process of creating new products to fill a need. The initial idea for Parbuddy took root while Bennett simply considered the sport's difficulty for the average player.
"You have to spend more and more to practice and to play if you want to get better at golf," Bennett says. "So I came up with a rewards incentive for the golf world. It's a win-win for golfers and courses."
The difference between Parbuddy and other golf-rewards programs, Bennett says, is that Parbuddy does not restrict point collection to tee-time purchases. For players with the Parbuddy app, any spending at the course puts them closer to rewards ranging from the introductory Starbucks eGift to free golf balls and food discounts, and ultimately to the big catches -- cart-fee-only specials and free rounds anytime.
"After one $75 round you're already close to a 100-point reward (a $10 green-fee discount) for the next round," Bennett says. All the more reason to stick around after 18 holes for a burger and a beer.
Players who have memberships at Wind Watch and Willow Creek still benefit because their food, drink and pro-shop purchases build up point totals, Bennett says.
Dallas-based ClubCorp, owner and operator of more than 200 clubs across the United States, is a "good fit" for Parbuddy, according to Bennett, because it has the structure in place to implement new ideas at some of its courses. Working mostly on his own, Bennett first took Parbuddy to big companies overseeing multiple courses rather than to single facilities. The next wave of Parbuddy locations, Bennett says, will be a mix of ClubCorp properties and individual courses. The focus is mainly in the Northeast for now, though Bennett plans to take Parbuddy wherever there is interest, no matter the location.
Wind Watch and Willow Creek were purchased by ClubCorp in 2011. Wind Watch occupies one of the highest points on Long Island (pictured right) and features water hazards on 12 of its holes. Willow Creek, a Stephen Kay design, sports fast greens and nearly 100 sand hazards ranging from small pot bunkers to massive traps (above left).
Parbuddy is available on the App Store and Google Play. For more information, visit www.parbuddygolf.com.