Start-up revolutionising the booking of golf caddies
Online platform Handicaddie the idea of 20-year-old student from Coleraine
Graham Curry, whose fledgling company, Handicaddie, allows golfers to book caddies online
Having cut his teeth as a schoolboy player and caddie at the Castlerock Golf Club near Coleraine, Co Derry in Northern Ireland, 20-year old business management student Graham Curry was well aware of the shortcomings of existing caddie booking systems. “You’d turn up to find a tour had overbooked caddies or a booking was a no-show and you’d end up hanging around in the hope of a job. So, having seen at first-hand how the manual system didn’t work I realised it was ripe for digitisation,” says Curry whose fledgling company, Handicaddie, allows golfers to book caddies online.
“Booking caddies creates unpaid administrative work for golf club staff and takes them away from priority tasks such as booking tee times and conducting lessons,” adds Curry, who is currently taking a year out from college to get his business up and running. “With the current system, visiting golfers also have no knowledge about their caddie prior to the round so there is no personalisation of their experience and no way to guarantee they will get a high-quality service. On the other side of the coin, employment for caddies is very insecure as the current arrangement is essentially first come first served. Digitising the process will simplify life for everyone.”
The platform will have three user groups. The first are golf tourists, a world market of about five million people of which 200,000 of those come to Ireland. The second are golf clubs, initially about 200 in Ireland but potentially thousands in the US and the same again in Europe, and caddies who can use the platform for free.
In addition to improving the logistics Curry says Handicaddie will allow golfers to get more out of a game as they can choose a caddie whose experience suits their needs. To facilitate this Handicaddie will have an area where caddies can post their profile and golfers can add reviews.
While the principal purpose of the system is to streamline bookings, the site will also offer add-ons such as pre-booking of golf carts, drinks or meals after the game. “This feature will highlight the services different clubs provide and help them generate additional revenue,” Curry says.
Ultimately, Curry would like his business to go global but he is starting closer to home by targeting golf tourists visiting Ireland. “Over 50 per cent of them are from North America and they are typically affluent 35 to 65-year-olds who book on average four or five caddies a trip,” he says. Handicaddie will make its money by charging golfers €4 per booking while golf clubs will pay a monthly fee to use the system and commission on add-on sales.
Curry is hoping to secure a proof of concept grant of €10,000 to complete the process and the product will begin pilot testing in Northern Ireland and the Republic next April. Curry is hoping to raise about €25,000 in angel funding to bring Handicaddie to market.
The company’s main competition is in the US where there are companies that train people to become caddies and then outsource them to golf clubs. What gives Handicaddie the edge, Curry believes, is that it’s a matching service not an employment service, which makes the model highly scalable. “We believe this makes Handicaddie the first breakout company in the industry because there is no other company giving golfers the opportunity to choose their caddies across the globe,” he says.
“Our service is disruptive and our aim is to revolutionise the way caddies are arranged. Digitising this process will bring our industry into a new era of connectivity and provide ease of access to a database of caddies all around the world.”