Coin rolling into a golf hole.

Golf has exploded in popularity in recent years thanks to the pandemic and the popularity of Netflix’s Full Swing documentary series. More than 531 million rounds of golf were played in the U.S. in 2023 alone, according to the National Golf Foundation. Because of this surge in interest, golfers are finding that nabbing a tee time at a public golf course has gotten increasingly difficult.

Loop Golf is looking to make the process easier by working as a digital matchmaker. It finds and books tee times for golfers whenever they become available — even if one opens up in the middle of the night.

Users tell Loop Golf what their criteria is for a tee time, like when they are looking to play, how much they are looking to pay and how far they would be willing to travel to a course, among other things. Loop Golf will then scour the internet and book a tee time that fits that criteria as soon as it becomes available. The company makes money by collecting a 10% fee from each booking.

Loop Golf founder and CEO Matt Holder told TechCrunch that he knows the problem intimately. Most golf courses only allow golfers to book up to seven days in advance, meaning there is always a lot of competition for tee times. He told TechCrunch he decided to launch Loop Golf because he couldn’t stand the frustrating process anymore and knew he likely wasn’t the only one.

“I was staying up late, scouring a bunch of websites, trying to find a place to play,” Holder told TechCrunch. “I’d be spending hours just looking at all the different options and trying to do all the multi-factor problem solving of finding a place to play for me and my group. Eventually, I got fed up with it, my wife definitely got fed up with it. There’s a better way to do this.”

Matt Holder is the founder and CEO of Loop Golf. Image Credits: Courtesy of Loop Golf.

Holder leaned on his background working in product management at multiple marketplace startups including Houzz, CarGurus and Autolist — acquired by CarGurus — to build Loop Golf. While similar to a marketplace, Loop Golf is a little different because it is more of a concierge service, Holder said. Users don’t scroll through options and select a course, but rather the platform uses a “secret sauce” software layer to track, find and book tee times for its users automatically.

“They can spend 30 seconds to set their preferences with us and save hours of searching,” Holder said. “We find and book the tee time for them, and just give them more opportunities to play golf.”

The startup currently has more than 3,000 public courses on the platform. That number includes more than half of Golf Digest’s top 100 public courses. The startup recently raised a $1 million seed round led by Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH fund in addition to XST Capital Group, Friends and Family Capital, SparkOffer and The Rideshare Guy. Holder said that Loop Golf approached Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy, after noticing that he was an early adopter booking up a storm on the platform.

Holder said the company could have raised more for this round but decided against it because they didn’t want to raise more money than they needed, and they didn’t want to give up the extra percentage of their company in order to do so. He added that AI developer tools have also allowed them to avoid having to hire a huge team — as well as save time and capital.

“I think that it all comes down to the dynamics of what capital you need to grow,” Holder said. “We don’t have as capital-intensive of a business to scale. I think our margins are really high. Like sure, would we want to raise, you know, $10 million plus? Yeah, that would be awesome. But at the same time, we have to balance dilution with our ability to deploy capital.”

While most golf courses aren’t aware they are on the Loop Golf platform, the startup has started partnering with them. Holder is hoping to entice them to work with him by pointing out that up to 20% of bookings get canceled and Loop Golf helps fills those gap reservations for courses.

Holder said that as Loop Golf grows it will become even more of a resource to golf courses too. As its user base scales, the startup will have a database of information for golf courses, like how much people would be willing to pay for a tee time at their course, which times are the most popular on which days and more.

Loop Golf isn’t the only startup looking to tackle the issue of finding a tee time either. Noteefy is another that similarly looks to help golfers find tee times but from a different angle, as it works with the golf courses themselves and provides other services like revenue tracking. There are other golf-focused startups raising money too. GolfForever, a startup that builds an at-home golf training system, has raised $10 million in venture money. Swag Golf, a golf accessory company, has also raised $10 million.

Loop Golf launched in beta last December and now is fully open for business. Holder said the company already has users booking two to three times a month and is growing its gross merchandise value 100% month over month.

“We’re already on pace to generate in the millions in tee time demand over the next 12 months,” Holder said. “That’s with limited activity. So we’re really excited to see how much this balloons when we take all the training wheels off and see where this goes.”

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