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MyGolfBuddy makes finding a new playing partner a snap

Alan KatzBy Alan Katz,

Are you happy with your golfing partners, or would you like to meet new ones? If you're searching for new people with whom to share your love for golf, an online pairing service could be just what you need. MyGolfBuddy.com is now expanding its services to include both the United States and Britain.

The service has more than 3,000 members in America and is growing at the rate of 20 per day, according to its founder, Paul Robinson of Los Angeles. Available free to its members, the service earns its money largely from advertising.

Members fill out an online form with their age, sex, zip code, golf handicap rating, upper limit for the price of a round and other relevant information. Players are also asked if they like to make wagers, and whether they prefer to play with men or women. After a member profile is created for you (with optional photo), you get a list of potential playing partners.

Robinson says the site is specifically for golf, but some players have used it for dating as well.

"I haven't heard any feedback from members finding romance on the site, and actually we have had several e-mails from women saying they prefer to use the service to find other women to play with," Robinson says. "I'm sure that some romances have begun on MyGolfBuddy.com but we don't emphasize that or collect data on it."

A geographer by trade, Robinson started MyGolfBuddy.com with Sukrit Mukherjee, a computer engineer. Robinson had only just begun to play golf and was having trouble finding suitable partners. He persuaded Mukherjee to develop a search engine to help golfers connect with others who shared the same playing preferences - walk or ride, weekdays or weekends, budget or high-end, etc. The duo launched the site in February 2005, and membership started to grow fast.

Robinson says it was easy getting people who knew about the site to join; the trick was spreading the word.

"A remarkable thing we've noticed is nobody ever drops out of MyGolfBuddy.com," he says. "People obviously enjoy being members of our online community and are willing to withstand a few bulk e-mails a month with site announcements."

Golfer Alicia Daugherty says she has made several contacts through MyGolfBuddy.com.

"My experience with MyGolfBuddy.com has been very enjoyable, Daugherty said. "I found three regular partners that I play with now; my regular foursome."

MyGolfBuddy.com partners with The Weather Channel to provide local course guides and 10-day weather forecasts, all integrated into the search-engine results. The site also teams with golfswitch.com to bring local tee-time booking to the search results page.

Plans are in the works to expand into Australia, Germany, India and South Africa, Robinson says.

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