I suck at golf. Actually, I suck at mini-golf. There is something completely impossible about putting a golf ball around a small hill — even if it’s a par two hole (and yes — while sober. Sad, I know). The idea of actually hitting the course for a Saturday afternoon is a completely foreign concept to me, though millions of people find this (somehow) relaxing. However, while golfing is by design meant to be a somewhat isolating hobby, golfers could easily benefit by connecting with other golfers around the world to help improve their own game and find others with whom to play.
So how can golfers learn from each other’s games to improve upon their own? Enter Cadee, a startup that is part of the newest batch of Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, is a new social network designed by golfers, for golfers. Cadee, which started in Ontario, Canada, is a way for golfers to connect with each other by sharing statistics about their game as well as understand what their own stats mean so they can improve. Cadee can track and analyze scores submitted by golfers to help users keep track of their handicap, score, putts, driving accuracy, fairway percent, and more. Cadee generates reports for each user based on this data, comparing personal stats to PGA golfers, other Cadee users, and friends on the site. A user can also see where and when they played best and worst. Golfers can also use the site to get course directories to prepare for their next game and to link it to their previous game.
One of the co-founders of Cadee, Sean Rucker, he and has friends – who are all avid golfers – realized there was no way to advertise, track, and share the statistics from one’s golf game. The result was this new social network, which has been live in their native Ontario for several months. Now, Cadee is rolling out state by state in the US, starting with courses in California — though any golfer can join the network. (If your course isn’t listed yet, you can email Cadee from its website.)
Rucker says the idea behind Cadee is to “make the user experience as easy and fun as possible and make Cadee a place where you can go, learn, and improve your golf game.” He says that other similar sites bog users down in irrelevant information, or are clunky in their user interface. Cadee, which utilizes Facebook Connect, is not only a social network in and of itself that allows golfers to find others with similar ability or even someone who can offer some advice. Cadee also allows users to leverage their other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to share their stats and connect beyond Cadee.
This new niche network is one of several emerging that target specific demographics, as opposed to the free-for-all type of network fostered by Facebook and its predecessors (such as MySpace). Earlier this year, a cancer support network called I Had Cancer launched for those who are fighting cancer, surviving cancer, or know a loved one affected by it. Not only do these types of niche networks offer an additional service catered to the needs of its users, but those interested in a specific topic can more easily find others to share and discuss their experiences. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends, but for those who want to discuss specific topics — or find a support network — sites like Cadee and I Had Cancer are likely just the beginning of a new breed of social networks.
And one of the key ways Cadee is catering to its specific users is mobile integration. Unlike its competitors, such as Oobgolf and Golfshot, Cadee allows users the option to take a snapshot of their scorecard and then email it in to Cadee, where the Cadee team will do the rest — no app needed. Rucker explains that it doesn’t “want to make Cadee change the way you play golf. It’s designed to still allow you to enjoy the escape.” While the guys at Cadee want to help you improve and track your stats, they definitely don’t want to compromise the experience of golfing itself by forcing users to constantly use an app while on the course.
Cadee is still new, so there are several new features in the works. The team is looking to add a gamification component to Cadee that will allow users to challenge each other and create online tournaments. Cadee will also be incorporating partnerships with golf courses, which will offer value propositions to Cadee users to encourage them to visit these courses. Right now, though, you can sign up for free and use Facebook connect to find other friends also using Cadee, whether you just want to compare stats or generate a little friendly competition. You can also request to join the beta of the mobile version, which allows you the ability to send in your stats via your mobile phone.
If you golf, be sure to check out Cadee at Cadee.co and let us know what you think of the new social network in the comments.