Right on course

App idea involving drone brings students award at world event

March 2, 2016

Clockwise from upper left are Taylor Kadrlik, Ryan Hoag, Tim Komaromy and Associate Professor Phil McGuirk.

Imagine you’re playing golf. You reach the 14th hole and, rough day that it has been, you’ve run out of golf balls.

You pull out your smartphone, access an app and order more balls from the pro shop. Within a few minutes, two sleeves of balls are delivered by a drone, which lands at your feet.

That’s just one scenario University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership students envision with their concept app, Club Air.

While Club Air may sound futuristic, it had golf club managers from around the world talking recently at the Club Managers Association of America world conference in San Diego.

They liked the idea so much that the UW-Stout chapter won a Club of the Future award at the conference, which was attended by more than 2,500 club managers and 350 students.

The app would target tech-savvy millennial golfers, who also could use it to:

  • Bypass the pro shop check-in if they’re running late for the first tee
  • Order food and beverages from the course and have the order delivered by drone.
  • Make dinner reservations at the course
  • Get e-receipts.
  • Upload a personal profile and share it when playing other courses

The app, for example, could remind a golfer on the seventh hole that he or she typically likes to order a beverage on that hole.

A ‘very realistic’ idea

With its advantages, Club Air could speed up the pace of play and improve overall operations efficiency at clubs, said Taylor Kadrlik and Ryan Hoag, who developed the idea and gave the presentation in San Diego.

“I think the idea made a great impression on people because it is very realistic. There are similar apps out there, but the only difference is that they don’t incorporate a drone into their system,” said Kadrlik, of Baldwin, a junior in golf enterprise management. “Millennials want things done on the spot.”

Kadrlik and Hoag are looking into the possibility of turning Club Air into a real app. “I think it will help clubs increase their customer service and increase sales. If you really think about it, a beverage cart only comes around once every nine holes. So if you play 18 holes you will only get served two, maybe three times depending on how busy the course is. More sales equal more income to the club,” Kadrlik said.

Hoag said the idea captured the attention of club managers. “Because of the relevancy of the idea, during our presentation we fielded many questions from club managers and other professionals; they all had a very strong interest and showed a great curiosity on how the technology could be implemented at their club,” said Hoag, of Roseville, Minn., a freshman in golf enterprise management.

Hoag said clubs already are using drones to take photos of their courses, so incorporating drone use into an app to better serve customers isn’t far off.  The drone would be programmed to land at designated sites on fairways and tee boxes.

Kadrlik and Hoag said they received critical support on the Club Air project from Rollie Carlson of the CMAA Upper Midwest chapter. The Upper Midwest chapter and Wisconsin Badger CMAA chapter also provided financial support to help students attend the conference.

Award-winning experience

UW-Stout won the award in the app division. Club of the Future awards were given out in four other categories involving about 25 student teams total.

The UW-Stout chapter also won a Club of the Future award in 2014.

Chapter president Tim Komaromy and Associate Professor Phil McGuirk, who accompanied the 13 students at the conference, provided input on Club Air.

Komaromy, Kadrlik and Hoag said the conference experience is invaluable.

“The world conference is an excellent educational and networking experience for not only students interested in the private club industry but all students. No other organization can bring together 350 students and upwards of 2,500 industry professionals from around the world in one location like CMAA does,” said Komaromy, of Algonquin, Ill., a junior majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management.

In recent years, every UW-Stout CMAA member at conference has returned with an internship or full-time position, Komaromy said.

McGuirk founded UW-Stout’s CMAA chapter, the first one admitted to the national organization, in 1975.

The conference featured speakers, education sessions and a business expo.



UW-Stout’s chapter of the Club Managers Association of America won a Club of the Future award at the world conference for its Club Air app idea. Clockwise from upper left are Taylor Kadrlik, Ryan Hoag, Tim Komaromy and Associate Professor Phil McGuirk.