The Silicon Valley of Golf
(In the interest of full disclosure, Apparation LLC is not only the owner and operator of GroupLooper but is also involved in various ways in supporting several of the entrepreneurial ventures mentioned below. If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea that you think can improve the golf industry, contact us and we may be able to help you fulfill your vision.)
Did you know that sand is big business in the Upper Midwest? If you live in the Twin Cities and pay attention, you will notice massive quantities of sand traveling on trucks and trains through the Twin Cities on its way from sand mines in Wisconsin to the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota. The Wisconsin sand is particularly well-suited to the demands of oil and gas drilling and a recent tally counted more than 120 sand mining operations in our neighboring state. Perhaps America’s Dairyland should be re-named America’s Sandbox.
Wisconsin sand is also being used to create some of the most magnificent new golf courses in the country. In addition to Erin Hills, where this year’s US Open will be played, Upper Midwest golfers may now also enjoy Sand Valley, a new golf mecca in central Wisconsin with at least two new courses. The Sand Valley site supposedly has “the best sand for golf” that architects like Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore have ever worked with. The first course opened last fall and the second is slated for 2018.
Of course, the real Silicon Valley made its reputation by turning the silica from sand into integrated circuits and a myriad of innovative technology and products.
A strong case can be made that the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro area is slowly but surely becoming the Silicon Valley of the golf industry. Despite our short golf season, we have a large and growing contingent of golf entrepreneurs who are re-inventing the industry by offering golfers new products and services.
Golf-related entrepreneurial activity currently bubbling in the Twin Cities includes:
Matt Stang and the Swannies team are ramping up production of their lifestyle apparel for golf… their line has expanded from their signature golf sandals to now include a broad line of comfortable apparel. You can even join the Swannies team by participating in their latest capital raise… check it out here.
Kevin Unterreiner of TwinCitiesGolf.com fame has a tiger by the tail with his new Public Country Club venture. Now in its 2nd year, the PCC offers members unlimited play at over 40 golf courses for a mere $55/month membership fee. Sound too good to be true? Read the fine print and see if they have any current openings.
Long-time industry instigator RJ Smiley is back in the labs cooking up an offering that will help youth golfers to play more golf during the years when they can play independently but don’t yet have the wherewithal to pay independently. His iGolf4ever program will be launched this spring in partnership with a group of golf angels that will provide subsidized rounds of golf to the next generation.
Tom Abts of Deer Run Golf Club in Victoria has consistently been rated one of the best marketers in the golf industry, and we can’t wait to see what campaign he rolls out each spring to tout the unique atmosphere at Deer Run. We’ve had Fairway to Heaven, the Real Magic Kingdom, Fun Play Fridays and more… what’s in store for 2017?
Some deep thinkers at the University of Minnesota are participating in a 5 year Science of the Green research project with the deep pockets of the United States Golf Association. The work being done there is all about making golf more sustainable… economically and ecologically. Learn more here and stay tuned for some interesting developments in Falcon Heights.
Quickgolf, a Minnesota-based company, is pioneering a new way to play, enabling time-strapped golfers to play and pay by the hole on days when they don’t have time to play a full round. This innovative service is already being offered in eight states and is poised for significant growth in 2017. Next time you want to play but don’t have a lot of time, give it a try.
Local publisher Steve Wetzler (Minnesota Tee Times, Hmong Times) has developed an innovation that was rooted in the golf industry but will have an impact far beyond. The recently launched iDeal Genie service allows niche publishers to team with their advertisers to give consumers access to great deals at local establishments. Check it out for sweet deals not only on rounds of golf but also on services from restaurants, jewelers, photographers, chiropractors and more. Take a spin through the virtual shopping aisles at iDeal Genie and you’ll most likely find a few deals that you can’t resist.
We know of two other golf businesses currently in the R&D stage in Minnesota that’ll be game changers… stay tuned and we’ll do the big reveal on those when they’re ready to go public.
I’m sure I’ve missed other cool things going on in Upper Midwest golf. If you know of any, please share with a remark below.
What do you think… are we the Silicon Valley of golf?
Contemplate that as you enjoy a little silica-inspired music.
Lots of exciting stuff happening for golf here in Minnesota. Thanks for sharing!
Forgot 2nd Swing, the online and in store giant.
Good catch, Brad. Perhaps we’ll do a follow-up sometime with the entrepreneurs we forgot and will definitely add 2nd Swing.