Prior to GolfLogix, Charleston co-founded Premium Cigars International and helped take the company public on the Nasdaq. Charleston served as vice president of sales for Premium Cigars International, where he successfully launched an in-store humidor program in over 10,000 retail outlets, negotiating contracts representing over 25,000 retail locations and managed 50 sales reps. Charleston now leads GolfLogix’s marketing, sales, and business development efforts and helped successfully negotiate the acquisition of GolfLogix by Emigrant Capital Corp. in 2014. Having been in the golf GPS business since its inception in 1999, Charleston is one of the most experienced executives in the Golf GPS industry.
THE CHARLESTON STORY —
I played basketball in college and never touched a golf club until I was 30. A friend finally convinced me to go out and give it a try and I was shocked at how hard the game was. It was counter-intuitive to everything I had learned in all other competitive sports I had played. I was so frustrated that I vowed that I would do whatever it takes to learn how to play the game at some semblance of a respectable level. There were lessons, terrible range sessions, errant tee shots and really bad scores but I was determined to survive this assault to my ego. It took me awhile but I was finally able to start consistently shooting in the low 90’s (no mulligans…ha!) and the life time golf addiction was in full effect.
At this time, a few good friends of mine and fellow Co-founders Todd Kuta and Scott Lambrecht starting talking about why there wasn’t any technology to help beginning golfers track their club distances and recommend what club to hit based on really game performance. We spent a lot of nights and weekends working on the project and in 1999 we eventually submitted a patent and went to work on it full time. We ultimately partnered with Garmin and wrote the software for the first handheld GPS device for golf and sold to golf courses worldwide including Pebble Beach, Valderrama, etc, etc.
We learned the golf industry is challenging and you have to constantly pivot and adapt in order to survive. It has been a long run since 1999 but we are still around and always innovating.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
I wake up around 5am every morning (without and alarm) and head to the gym. It puts me in the right mindset to solve whatever problems the day might throw at me.
What was the genesis for the product creation?
We are big believers in constant innovation and a software only model allows you to make changes quickly. Much of this innovation comes from actually being out on the course and listening to what our fellow golfers talk about. ie. “Uugh, I just 3-putted again! I wish someone could provide me with something that could help me read the greens like a caddy.”
How long a time frame was it from idea creation to actual product development?
With respect to our latest product innovation, Putt Breaks, it took us over 18 months from concept to actual product launch.
How does your product differ from others offered by your competitors?
At this point Golflogix has the only full scale Golf App for golfers that provides insight on how to read greens. GolfLogix has developed breakthrough 3D mapping technology and paired it with the type of information from green books used by pro golfers. Putt Breaks is a game-changing way for golfers of any skill level to read and analyze greens. Whether hitting their approach, chipping, or putting users will experience a new level of insight into the contours of the green and more importantly, how putts will break.
The main focal point for product sales will be in what order — online, retail outlets, green grass shops?
A 30-Day free trial of the GolfLogix App can be downloaded in Apple’s App Store and in the Google Play Store.
Do you have any concerns that golf’s ruling bodies — USGA and R&A — may make such products illegal for golfer usage?
GolfLogix is simply providing amateur golfers with what the majority of PGA Tour pros are using in every event they play in. It is no different than having an experienced caddy reading your putts. We are constantly innovating to provide our green contour information in a quick and simple way in order to speed play and help golfers shoot lower scores by limiting the amount of 3-Putts.
What’s the biggest challenge product wise going forward?
It is extremely labor intensive to map the green contours for every hole at every course and it will take us quite some time to get the majority of US courses completed. We hope that golfers will be patient and aid us in getting their fellow golfers to request the courses they most want to see Putt Breaks at. The higher the amount of requests for a particular course the faster we will map it.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be?
All golfers should be allowed to play their music while on the course — at respectable levels of course.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract new players to the game such as Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them — what would you suggest they do?
Golf can be way too serious. It is hard enough to learn how to hit that little white ball around and the golf industry should do everything it can to help golfers learn faster, play better, and have more fun.
Best advice your ever received — what was it and who from?
“Never underestimate the power of a strong cocktail while playing the game of golf!” An extremely wise golfer who first taught me how to play the game.
For more info go to: www.golflogix.com