Players of any skill level can compete against others, earning points for making par — or better — from the yardage distance of their choice
Anyone who has tried to help a beginner enter the world of golf on a real course knows it can be an intimidating, embarrassing, frustrating and even scary experience for the novice golfer.
The developers of ParPoints believe they have created an app that makes for a much softer landing for newcomers and increase the chances they will want to come back to the course and try it again.
It’s all about the scoring. Instead of using traditional golf scores, ParPoints — as the name suggests — awards points for scores of par or better. Basically, players earn one point per yard on the hole they are playing. Par on a 400-yard hole nets 400 points; 100-yard hole, 100 points. Birdies are double points and eagles are triple points. Bogeys and worse score zero points.
A little over three years ago, Brandon Ebert, one of ParPoints’ co-founders, wanted to get his sons, Corbin and Keaton, into the game, but wasn’t sure the best way to accomplish it. Kevin Quinley, Ebert’s business partner, suggested that Ebert begin introducing the boys to the game close to the green.
Quinley suggested that the boys start at 25 yards from the hole and when they start making “pars” from that distance, then move them to 50 yards. The more proficient they become, the longer distance they can handle.
Corbin, who was 8 at the time, was playing from 50 yards and 5-year-old Keaton was at 25 yards. Both boys parred a hole and Corbin told his dad that his par should be worth more because it was from farther away.
Ebert thought Corbin had a point — 50 points, as it would turn out.
“It made sense,” said Ebert, who is a 10 handicap. “Should I be playing from the black (tees) or should I play from a distance where I think I can score a par from? Should everybody find a yardage they had a chance to score par or better?”
Ebert and Quinley started noodling the idea and took it to the golf course to work out the parameters. They decided that the point was to make par or better and any score over par means the hole is over.
“You don't even have to finish the hole,” Quinley said. “You don't want to pick up and move to the next hole. And you're not stuck playing the same set of tees for your entire round. You can move tee boxes; you choose wherever you feel you can score the most points.”
Along with Ebert’s brother-in-law Ryan Hannebaum, who is the third partner in ParPoints, the trio developed the app, which uses GPS to help players pick a tee or a point from which to start each hole. It shows the yardage, along with what double and triple points would be. Players simply find a place to start, enter their scores and the app records the running total for each player.
While one of the aims of ParPoints is to target kids, the founders say it is also designed for beginners, especially women.
“My wife and I went out and she started from 100 yards,” Quinley said. “She's not hitting four shots before she gets to my drive and feeling like she's an annoyance, which would happen if she played from traditional women’s tees. She actually has asked me to go out and play more.
“I think it's more because we're now having the similar type of experience where we're playing at the same pace. We're hitting the same number of shots. That can be a huge thing for women who are playing with men or juniors with adults. The overall experience got on the golf course is more similar regardless of skill.”
Ebert says that ParPoints is ideal for charity outings, which are normally scrambles, where players can have widely different playing abilities. He believes that ParPoints scoring is much more inclusive than the normal charity format. The website declares, “Stableford sucks.”
Still, the co-founders have no notion that ParPoints will replace anything in the golf ecosystem. They just want golfers to see things in a different light.
“We're never going to change golf,” Ebert says. “We love the history and tradition of golf. But we believe ParPoints just makes the game more fun and enjoyable and approachable for everybody.”