HOUSTON -- Steve Elkington is really excited.
Sitting in his RV, dubbed "The Big Show" in part because it's two stories tall when expanded, he's parked at the Houston Open, his hometown PGA Tour event, and he's got the perfect parking spot between the 18th green and first tee.
His Secret Golf players in the field in the final tune-up-slash-Last-Chance-Saloon before the Masters are coming through, saying hi and getting a chance to relax amid their final preparations to take on Golf Club of Houston.
And he has in hand mock-ups of a new app he has been developing with Best Approach and Stracka Line to dramatically improve the fan experience at a golf tournament. He takes me through the screen shots, and it's easy to see why he's got a big grin on his face and he's talking at a faster-than-normal pace. This app is a winner.
Elkington's Secret Golf has teamed up with the Insperity Invitational, the Houston-area PGA Tour Champions event played in the first week in May, to develop and publish a new app for tournament fans. Within the app, fans either attending the tournament or at home can take a virtual course tour, with annotation from Elkington on the best way to play host The Woodlands Golf Club. He walks the fan through each shot, the ideal shot shape off the tee to the ideal yardage, as well what players are looking for as they approach each green.
Fans who there in person can also benefit from the app tapping into their mobile phone's GPS to give them a good idea of how far the players they're following have into each hole in real time.
The app, available for Android and iOS devices, goes a step further. Using Stracka Line technology, fans can see a true rendering of the green and have fun with a putt predictor. They can place the hole location and estimate where the golfer they're watching is on the green and try to figure out if they can read the putt -- or if the player can.
The putt predictor is so helpful that Elkington and some of the Insperity leadership were using it in a pre-tournament round to read their putts.
“We are excited to partner with Insperity on this new venture. The app was built from the ground up with the spectator in mind, to take them inside the ropes for the first time. Fans will now have a lot of the same information that a Tour player has,” said Elkington.
Of course, the app has the basics covered, too -- tee times, news and announcements are all there for a fan.
The app also has a number of sponsor activations, which include contests for fans to make predictions about tournament scoring, player performance and more. By participating, fans can get discounts and other offers, which can be redeemed in-person or online. Fans can even enter to win a round at The Woodlands with Elkington. The app adds another layer of sponsor connection to the fans, heightening the value of having their name connected with a big-time pro golf tournament.
While attending a tournament in person is a great experience, most fans don't get a sense of why the pros are doing what they're doing. They don't know where the pros are aiming or why. This app offers a way for fans to feel like they're getting a better understanding of the why behind the wow.