The Uber model has transformed the mobile app world, and the golf industry is next.
A US-made smartphone app called Looper wants to bring golf caddies back to the game by making caddies available on demand.
“Golf carts have killed the caddie business and our mission is to bring them back to every golf course,” David Cavossa, founder and CEO of Looper, tells Tech in Sports. “We support both private courses and public courses, and everything in between, although so far, private courses have been our earliest adopters because they love the thought of adding a luxury service item like this to their course for members.”
He says Looper is for golfers who believe carts have lessened the game, but think traditional caddie programs are too expensive.
“We make caddie service viable for courses, accessible for players, and simple for caddies,” the company says on its website.
Once the app, which is free on both the App Store for Apple users and Google Play for Android phones, is downloaded, customers can choose between four experience levels of caddies and book one from the regional pool of certified Looper caddies.
A JR-Looper is an entry level caddy available for USD20-40 (plus tip) per bag. JR-Loopers are typically teenagers (minimum age is 14) still learning the game and working part time on the weekends for most of the year and all week during the summer.
A Looper is the next step up with a price range of USD30-50 for a single bag and tend to be more experienced teen/college-age caddies that have worked at least five times. They can provide some club selection advice, green reading, and general shot help.
The most experienced level of caddies available are Pro-Loopers, who cost around USD70-90 for a single bag and USD100-140 for two bags, and are capable of providing on-course expertise, club selection, and strategy tips due to their caddy background.
Fore-Loopers are also available and are ideal for foursomes playing with carts. Starting at USD40-80 per foursome, they also add another layer of service for groups such as corporate and charity events, or business-related rounds.
First launched in the Washington, DC area last year, the Looper app is now in use on over 100 courses across six states, with another couple scheduled for this fall/winter season.
Cavossa adds that it also plans to expand into Canada once it solidifies its operating model.
“I got a call early on when we were first spreading the good word about Looper a year ago from the president of the National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada. He told me he loved everything about the idea and how much he want to bring back caddies to the game here in Canada, and wanted to start right then and there,” Cavossa laughs. “My response to him at the time was give us a year or two to figure it all out because we’re still growing and defining the operating model to make this work. I hated turning down business but I also don’t want to expand into another country too quickly.”
He hopes to be on Canadian golf courses by next spring, or spring 2019 at the very latest.
Want to be a caddie?
Anyone can sign up to be a caddie, says Cavossa – as long as they are over 14 years old. Those interested can sign up on the Looper website and complete a video-based training course and test that is impossible to fail. Once completed, caddies need to attend an in-person orientation session at a local golf course in the Looper system before being approved and added to the caddie directory on the app.
Want to add your course to the Looper system?
Any golf course can become a registered Looper course if they are interested. The process is simple and free for the course, Cavossa points out, because the company takes care of 80 per cent of the set up. The only thing the course does itself is some marketing to get the word out about Looper to its members and customers.