It’s hard to believe that 8+ years ago my team and I were enjoying our first month after the launch of a re-designed GolfLink website. It was the culmination more than 5 months of work from a large team of 10 or so developers, designers, content creators, and more. We took the site from a directory style website with a dated design and weak traffic, and turned it into a Top 5 website in the Golf category.
The Original Website
Here’s what the site looked like before the re-design:
We took that basic directory information, and built a robust group of features that our golfers were asking for. The new sections we introduced were as follows . . .
Golf Course Directory
We expanded our golf course directory so that we had nearly 100% of the pubic and private gold courses in the United States listed and searchable complete with driving directions, lat/lon coordinates, aerial fly overs, yardage information, hours of operations, and much more. You heard that right, we added course fly overs so our users could see an aerial view of the most popular courses before they golfed it. This was before the days of drones, so the fly overs were all done using small planes.
We invested some time here introducing top destination spots for golf, a directory of the premier golf resorts, a golf vacation package partner, and a directory of gold course real estate. The travel section had arrived, and soon generated considerable traffic, but has since failed to be maintained.
This was one of our key focuses for the re-design project. We acquired a catalog of instructional videos recorded by the biggest names in golf coaching – Hank Haney, Mike LaBauve, Jim McLean, Denis Pugh, etc. That gave us several hundred professionally produced gold videos to share with our user base, and to help them advance their game.
My Game section
This was the other section which we focused the greatest amount of energy. We built this out as the place for golfers to record their rounds, track their handicaps, keep track of courses, and their favorite instructional videos. This section included:
- Round recording
- Handicap calculation
- Yardage Maps
- Course Tracker
- A ladder system showing the rounds recorded and by whom
- Instructional Videos
Building these features and functions required a great deal of effort to define the logic and behavior for each function, to build them, and then to test them to ensure accuracy. The results are the most utilized Game Tracking system in the Golf category with millions of rounds recorded, and shy of a hundred thousand paying subscribers.
The My Game section offers these features and functions:
GolfLink – My Game section
GolfLink – Recorded Rounds
GolfLink – My Stats
Golf Gear & Gear Reviews
We partnered with GolfSmith to bring the latest and greatest golf apparel, equipment, and accessories to our audience, and we introduced special discounts and pricing for our registered members. This turned into a multi-million dollar partnership.
8+ Year Old Website Design
Shortly after the re-design launched, I shifted my focus to running Trails.com and the Outdoor Group (the largest outdoor focused portfolio of websites on the internet), and GolfLink has not received much love since then. That may not seem like a long time, but in the web design and web development industry, a lot has changed. The current GolfLink website is cash cow for Demand Media (a public company where I was an early employee and led a division of the business before leaving in 2013 to build my own agency), and so re-designing it has not been a priority. By today’s standards, it’s too narrow (980 pixels) and is not fully mobile friendly.
The dated design and width aside, it still performs very well for organic search traffic, and remains a top performer in the category many years beyond what’s expected. It all goes to show that when a re-design is properly handled, it can perform well for years to come.