Little Green Pencil aims to bring new dimension to golf

For small golf events, it can be difficult to receive score updates or coverage of players and teams while the event is in progress.

Little Green Pencil, a company founded in 2013 by Will Robus, Stuart McIntosh and Steve Ramig, aims to use text messaging and publicly available website to make golf outings as simple and as social as possible for everyone involved — event participants, spectators, event planners and even the golf course itself. When asked about why the company chose to emphasize text messaging, Will Robus stated frankly: “Simply because everyone texts.”

“Simple” was the most common word that was used when Robus was asked how his company worked. He and other founders want to “improve the success, social value and profitability of golf events,” and as Robus continued, “using as little technology as possible other than the technologies that people use every day.”

Little Green Pencil does not need complex mobile applications on smart phones in order for his company to run. Little Green Pencil only requires text messaging and the URL to the live leader board that is driven by the text messaging scoring. Everything is managed through the website. It is supported by a full-featured event management portal, accessible by event planners and golf courses. The portal is able to create web-based registration forms, publish sponsor logos on The Leaderboard, print cart signs and check-in reports, as well as manage other aspects of the golf event.

In its executive summary for the 2014 Governor’s Business Plan Contest, the company was described as “a one-stop-shop for making golf events more social, memorable, and profitable.”

Little Green Pencil has also enhanced The Leaderboard website to allow Twitter posts using the approved hashtag to be displayed. One of the core ideas that Little Green Pencil wants to bring to golf tournaments is for it to be more social, enjoyable experience.

Robus described some 2013 events when testing his product, and said the whole process can be described and explained in about 30 seconds. At past events, Little Green Pencil employees took the time to explain and walk each golfer through the process from setting up their phones to enter scores for their teams.

“It’s easy for a 22-year-old and 62-year-old, simply because everyone texts,” he said.

Robus continued: “Last year we saw participation rates averaging 85 percent to 90 percent. So if you had an event with 20 teams, only three didn’t participate.”

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a familiar name in Wisconsin sports, offered one testimonial: “Little Green Pencil was a game-changer yesterday … the sponsors, coach and the tournament chairman are BIG FANS! You can count on becoming a staple of the Mike and Jessica McCarthy Golf Invitational!”

Robus and the other founders of the company are trying to expand their company through word of mouth, as golf professionals are a tight-knit community, by recruiting golf courses and by using trade shows.

Competitors in business of golf managerial systems mainly focus on specific aspects of a golf event and not the complete picture, Robus said. He explained that Little Green Pencil differs in three ways: “First, we focus on social aspects and overall event enhancement, while our competitors seek to solve one-dimensional problems. Second, our system removes technology and time barriers, making it easy and fun to use, and, third, we are offering golf courses a way to profit from implementing our system at no risk or cost to them.”

A judge in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest noted there is no such thing as a thing being truly “risk free,” and Robus agreed, but noted: “Outside of the time the golf course invests in learning the system and selling it to their customers, it really doesn’t cost them anything.”

With simple, fun and easy to implement being the goals on the scorecard, Little Green Pencil appears to be on par for meeting its business plan after a year of product testing.

The company is a finalist in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which will culminate June 3-4 at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison.

— By Robby Havenstein, for Havenstein is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.