Cooper Neill/Staff Photographer
Jon Schultz, president of ezLocator, poses for a portrait at his home office in Richardson on Thursday, March 21, 2013.
By MARK KAZLOWSKI
Published: 07 April 2013 02:28 PM
A degree in mechanical engineering, a background in sales and years honing his golf game prepared Jon Schultz for his current venture.
A germ of an idea that began after rounds of golf and refreshments at Dallas Athletic Club blossomed into a full-fledged business. The problem, Schultz and his golf buddies decided, was it seemed they were seeing the same pin positions weekend after weekend. They wanted variety.
“My biggest asset is creativity and the ability to look at a problem and see a solution,” Schultz said over lunch at DAC’s 19th hole, where the seed was planted. DAC became the testing ground in 2006-07, and Schultz soon decided to develop what they had created.
The business is ezLocator, which Schultz’s literature describes as a “software program for golf facilities that revolutionizes the hole management process.”
The occasional golfer may not understand what goes into selecting pin positions or its importance. When it is done well, no one notices. But when it is done poorly, even on just one hole, it can spoil the golfer’s experience. A proper pin position won’t force you to putt through a sea of old cups that have not healed. The hole won’t be cut on the side of a ridge.
ezLocator technology assists golf courses in determining fair pin positions and creates a database of pin positions for every hole.
“It is entirely possible that someone with common sense can set pins for a few days relatively easily,” said Schultz, the company’s president and CEO. “However, for example, over a month or two, the process of keeping track of previous pin location activity, accounting for daily green condition changes, and choosing a variety of daily locations for all 18 greens can easily become complicated.”
Schultz said he has 140 customers. Most are private clubs, including Dallas National, Preston Trail, Brook Hollow, Vaquero, Dallas Athletic Club and Dallas Country Club in the Dallas area. One of the most prominent courses outside of Dallas to purchase the product is suburban Philadelphia’s Merion Golf Club, which will host the U.S. Open in June.
Jimmie Austin Golf Club in Norman, Okla., is one of the public-access courses that has subscribed to ezLocator since it became available in 2009. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Florida is also a client.
“It’s a great product,” said Eddie Roach, the superintendent at Jimmie Austin. “From our standpoint, it gives us a great deal of flexibility. It’s very easy to use. Very user friendly.”
Roach said the course handles 25,000 to 30,000 rounds per year. It is the home course for the Oklahoma men’s and women’s golf teams. The Perry Maxwell design features bentgrass greens.
“It is a tool in an arsenal of tools that we can use to try to keep our greens healthy,” Roach said.
The technology enables superintendents to pinpoint areas of the green that may be worn or to save pin positions for upcoming tournaments.
“There’s a lot more variety in pin positions,” Roach said. “Some of our regulars say it’s like playing a different course.”
Brannon Goodrich, director of golf course maintenance at Dallas National, Schultz’s first paying customer, said ezLocator has been a time saver. He said it takes about 20 minutes to do a pin sheet for the entire week when before it would take at least 10 minutes per day.
“It definitely makes it quicker and more efficient,” Goodrich said. “You find hole locations that you weren’t using.
“It’s more of a precise process. We have to put a little more effort into it. The margin of error is very small. If you’re off, it affects pin positions later in the week.”
After 25 years in the high-tech industry, Schultz decided in 2008 to devote his fulltime efforts to growing ezLocator. He has three other employees in other parts of the country who sell the product. He developed a network of companies that support his organization in programming and green mapping. ezLocator filed for a patent in April 2010.
Though he said he doesn’t play as much golf as he did when he was a scratch player, Schultz feels he has insight into what golfers and golf courses want.
“I just want to create a tournament-like experience on a daily basis,” he said. “I want my company in the golf industry to be recognized as trusted advisers in the industry. We’re kind of go-to guys.
“I know it’s going to be successful. It’s just a matter of time.”
IN THE KNOW
Title: President and CEO of ezLocator
Residence: Richardson. He was born in Texas City and grew up in Dickinson.
College: Earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Texas in 1977.
Notable: His father was a chemical engineer. … He has been a member of Dallas Athletic Club since 1983. He was once a scratch golfer but says his handicap index now is 10-12. … Has three sons — Mark, David and Kevin — who earned golf scholarships. Mark and David played at Texas A&M and Kevin at Texas. David plays on minitours.
- Every green is scanned in by laser and mapped to a tolerance of +/- 1 millimeter.
- The 3D scan data reveals areas of the green that are puttable.
- Optimum pin locations are determined by the slope (normally less than 3 percent of slope or a little over 1.5 degrees), speed of the green and overall topography.
- Pin locations are generated by the golf course superintendent.
- After each pin position for the day has been determined, a trained cup cutter is provided precise instructions on where to place each new cup.
- The software includes the option to print pinsheets. Hole locations are also available on smartphone apps.