Allegiant owner looking to help golf industry take off

Maury Gallagher is the CEO and chairman of Allegiant Airlines, but he sat on a panel labeled “New Kids on the Block” during the recent Golf Business Techcon held at the Aria and organized by the National Golf Course Owners Association.

Gallagher, a TPC Summerlin member, was involved because of his major stake in TeeSnap, a Las Vegas-based golf technology company headed by Bryan Lord.

Gallagher was joined by PGA Tour legend Greg Norman and representatives from the PGA Tour, CBS Sports Digital and the United States Golf Association. The discussion was held to rebuke the perception that golf is a dying sport, and featured people and companies making substantial investments in the industry.

Gallagher and Lord aren’t afraid to speak about golf’s future and believe TeeSnap has created a revolutionary software platform that gives course ownership complete control of data and frees them from the pitfalls of antiquated web-based solutions and legacy pricing.

“Historically, golf has been successful relying on its own momentum because the generation I represent, the baby boomers, grew up liking golf and it was a great past time,” Gallagher said. “It was a growth sport in the nineties and 2000s but it hit a wall in 2008. Now, it’s not just ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’; you have to work for it. The problem with the golf industry, at least how I understand it, is my generation is getting older and it isn’t backfilling with the same numbers that are leaving it.

“When I looked at the state of technology and the business and where it was going, it was woefully underinvested and the IT platforms that were out there were built 20 years ago and they have not made enough of a return to reinvest. The other motivation for me is Allegiant is trying to be a leisure-based company and what better leisure is out there than golf?”

Lord is an avid golfer and Purdue University graduate who started developing TeeSnap while still a student. The company was founded in 2013 and is the fastest-growing technology company in the space according to the NGCOA, even if it is slower than he expected.

“I perceived that adoption would be faster, but I think the industry is so far behind the modern information age,” Lord said. “It’s an industry filled with industrial revolution people who are living in an information era and those are the people who own the courses. Yet the younger generation who are the early adopters are of the information age.”

Gallagher believes golf’s future is bright, but a willingness to invest is key.

“There are three parties in this arena, the IT tools supplier, the golfer and the course,” Gallagher said. “Historically, that relationship has been between the golfer and the course, but there has been some disintermediation over the last many years where the tool supplier has gone around the golf course and taken their inventory and tried to sell it directly.

“I think the industry has been very naïve about how they have priced and understood the (IT) product. It has value, but they can’t seem to monetize it and/or understand it. They will be very parsimonious when it comes to putting new tech in, but will give away serious money by letting tee times go out the door. Having said that, I do think the industry is waking up.”

TPC Las Vegas eats

Order off an a la carte lunch menu created by executive chef Stephanie Leonard at TPC Las Vegas through Saturday and partial proceeds will benefit Feeding America.

Deal of the week

Monthly unlimited golf specials starting at $350 are available at Golf Summerlin, home to three courses.

Top golfers

Chris Mabry and Kevin Ward from Kansas City won the Topgolf Tour Championship in Las Vegas and $50,000.

Stars on, off course

Norman, while appearing at Golf Business Techcon, said he will discuss his new tech golf partnership with Verizon with me for a future notebook. Norman said the “cutting-edge idea is the future of golf.” The official announcement is in early November.

The golf notebook appears each Thursday. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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