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Local company develops mobile app for golf courses

By Journal Staff

Date:

UTICA — The warm weather of late winter and early spring brought golfers out of hibernation, and one Utica–based company believes it has the next big thing to help golfers enjoy their game even more.

FTL Information Technology, Inc., run by brothers Anthony and Frank Spina, has just finished developing a mobile app for golf courses and is getting ready to start selling it to the courses.

“We got into app development about six months ago,” says Anthony Spina. The company creates websites and databases, provides e-commerce solutions, and now offers mobile-app development.

“We developed two hunting apps,” he says of FTL’s first foray into app development. Available for the iPhone platform, the company offered them up in Apple’s app store for $1.99 and has seen downloads of it in the thousands, Spina says. The apps feature scouting solutions for deer and turkey hunting.

“Those did well,” he says. “We’ve sold to eight countries so far.”

The company was looking for the next app to build, and golf seemed like a great option, Spina says. But this time, they’re building the app with a slightly different model in mind. Spina says FTL will be selling the app development to golf courses so that the app can be customized to that golf course. The golf course can then promote it to its golfers as a free app. Spina declined to disclose what FTL will charge golf courses for the app, as it will depend on the level of customization a course wants, but says it will be “cheaper than a golf membership.”

FTL recently finished the template for the basic iPhone and Android app and is ready to start marketing it to golf courses, Spina says. 

The app features four tabs on the bottom of the screen — one for the home page, one with a score card, one with a course map, and one to be determined by the golf course itself and what it wants to promote on that tab.

The home tab will feature the course’s logo, perhaps a clubhouse picture, and basic information such as address and phone number for the course, Spina says.

The score-card tab is where golfers can keep score during a round, complete with the app doing all the math for them. In addition, the app will keep a history of score cards for the course and have an email function so golfers can send the cards to leagues or just to friends to brag about a good round. FTL can even customize the card with a picture of each hole on the course, Spina notes.

The map tab uses a GPS layout over Google Earth to show a golfer where he or she is on the course with distance markers.

The fourth tab is really up to the golf course, Spina says. It serves as a place where the course can share information with its golfers about upcoming events, specials, tournaments, or other news.

And of course, FTL can further customize the app if a course wants it. “There are so many add-on features we can build on,” Spina says. They could even include a function where golfers can place a food order at the clubhouse while still out on the course finishing their round.

Spina sees the app as an invaluable tool for courses that helps put their name right into the hands of their customers. “You have a direct line to them,” he says. It can even help courses save costs in the long run if more golfers start using the app and the course doesn’t have to buy and distribute as many paper scorecards, he adds.

FTL is starting its marketing efforts with the more than 35 local golf courses in the Oneida and Herkimer County region — and already has meetings set up with several courses — but the app can be sold globally using technology like Google Earth. Spina says the interest is definitely there for the app.

Spina says he doesn’t have a specific sales goal for the app, but thinks it will start to take off once he makes that first sale. He declined to disclose FTL’s revenue.

The Spinas founded FTL Information Technology, Inc. (www.ftlinteractive.com) in 1995. The brothers employ two others at the business, which provides a range of interactive services including website development, e-commerce solutions, Internet applications, database development, e-learning, and website hosting.

The company operates from 1,000 square feet at 502 Court St., Utica.

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