I have spent a lot of time lately looking at all the different options one has for reviewing their golf experiences and tracking their golf game, and let me tell you, there are a lot. Way too many in my opinion, and it is creating a very over crowded market.
Websites dedicated to golf course reviews have been around for quite a while, but with all the buzz around social media the new trend is for golf social communities, which advertise offering more than just the golf course review or member forum. In my experience industry specific social media has never really taken off because it only attracts the really hard core participants. Add onto that the fact that the golf market is so saturated with these industry specific social “communities” that there really isn’t a “facebook” for golfers that is being recognized as “the place” to go for all things golf.
If you are looking for a place to review the last course you played, track your game or generally connect with other golfers here are my top 3 finds in order of my preference
Of all the options I have looked at OOBGOLF seems to have the most appealing features, which include course reviews, user profiles, handicapping, other stats, add your equipment to your profile, join groups, “friend” other users and industry blogs. Furthermore, courses themselves have detailed profiles that show prices, scorecards, hole by hole stats (based on users who have entered hole by hole scores for that course), as well as a best scores leaderboard.
Lastly, as an added feature, for $9.95 you can upgrade to an advanced option and for $19.95 you can upgrade to the top service level that includes an iPhone App with GPS. Not sure how the GPS feature works, whether courses are preloaded or whether you can map them yourselves.
If you happen to work for a course and want to update your courses info, you need to have the upgraded membership, which kinda sucks, especially if the info for your course is not all that accurate. For my course (Metcalfe) it isn’t bad in terms of accuracy.
2. UME Golf
UME Golf is a Facebook App mainly, although there is a website also, but it pretty much just directs you to the Facebook App. As with oobgolf you can find course info, write and read course reviews, create a person profile, and create your golf bag. What distinguishes UME golf from the other sites, and what has the potential to make it an industry leader (in my opinion) is the interface it has with Facebook. You have the option to “like courses” and the App posts your likes on your Facebook wall. Also, as with oobgolf you can track your stats and get a UME golf handicap, and with UME entered scores are posted on your Facebook wall, which can be good and bad.
UME seems to have the ability to get into more details with course profiles than oobgolf and as a course administrator it doesn’t cost you anything to get this access to update the course profile. The issue I find with UME golf is that the variety of entered courses only have basic info until someone from a course activates their their profile and goes in and inputs all the courses details. With UME being a newer application it may take some time before it builds up its database of courses.
3. Dogleg Golf
A more traditional golf course review website, with some new ideas. Dogleg is the least “social” of the three sites, but gives you a forum, has some promotions, a picture section a video section and of course a place to review your favorite or least favorite golf course. Courses are broken up into regions, so it is easy to find courses in your area. One o the neat features of the site is that as courses are reviewed there is a running “scorecard” that ranks the courses by Overall, Value, Layout, Greens, Conditions, Service, Facilities, Clubhouse and Pace of Play. This is a really neat feature in my mind, but will only be a valuable tool for courses and those looking for courses once the website is able to accumulate a large number of reviews. Looking at my region, Ottawa and East Ontario, the website currently only has 12 reviews (with 4 of them for one course).
Each course has there own micro site area that shows viewers the most recent reviews (I have done one of Metcalfe Golf and Country Club here) and also, if the course has engaged, there are some photos of the course to see.
Of the three sites I have looked at Dogleg has the least functionality, but could be the biggest winner with its traditional content and “one track” idea, which creates less confusion for the user. However, there are already a lot of other golf course review sites out there doing this, so the competition is numerous. Both UME and OOBGolf are attempting to be one stop shops for everything golf, and are integrating some social media (user generated media) which works for the hard core user, but may scare away some more casual users
All and all I think I am going to stick to the RCGA network for my handicap, Flagstick golf magazine for my regional golf news and Ottawagolf.com for regional golf forums. Although I am sure I will spend some additional time on each of the above mentioned sites.