Clippd is partnered with the NCAA. (Photo: Clippd)
On Clippd’s homepage, scroll a bit and you’ll see a screen littered with college golf logos.
Wake Forest, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Yale, Kentucky, Washington. There are dozens more. A bit further down, there are testimonials from Georgia Tech men’s coach Bruce Heppler, Central Florida women’s coach Emily Marron and Wake Forest women’s associate head coach Ryan Potter about how great Clippd is for their programs.
But Clippd was never a scoring site. Until now.
Its listed purpose is “to connect rich data from multiple sources into a single platform, providing players and coaches with powerful insights to drive improvement, engagement and enjoyment of the game.” Its mission? “To help players to truly understand their game and make better decisions about how to play, practice and improve.” Its vision? “A connected sport that is open, inclusive and progressive, where everyone has equal access to the tools and knowledge to get the most from the game they love.”
“Our aim is to work with golf’s technology firms and governing bodies to deliver you the maximum benefit from the golf data that’s now so easy to generate. To that task we bring advanced data science, machine learning and AI, as well as an unlimited love for the game.”
Now, Clippd is the NCAA’s official scoring provider for all levels of college golf. And it’s starting from scratch.
“We’d been invited to the early stage of the RFP process by the NCAA,” Piers Parnell, CEO of Clippd, told Golfweek. “I asked a lot of questions in those first few calls. I think that the point really is that there’s no underestimating how significant a technical challenge it is to deliver what college golf truly needs and deserves from a technical point of view, from a digital and experiential point of view. And so, you know, ultimately, on the basis of those initial meetings and where things were heading, we felt there was a bit of a mismatch in that understanding.
“Which obviously has now been corrected. Live scoring is another beats altogether, and it needs to be done properly. That’s our intent is to systematically go through a process where we collaboratively work with the community to get live scoring and data in the best possible way to create the right experience.”
Freeman initially reached out to Clippd on Sept. 1 seeking expertise. Parnell and a few partners got on a call with Freeman and tried to help him in the college golf community.
“Our primary goal was to introduce the most updated technology platform for collegiate golf,” Freeman said in the release announcing the switch to Clippd. “The complexities, including all divisions, formats, etc., proved more difficult than we ever could have anticipated. We made the decision to reach out to Clippd, a leading technology provider in the golf community, to assist us through our challenges.”
The NCAA had nothing to do with Spikemark reaching out to Clippd, Mark Bedics, the NCAA associate director of championships and alliances, told Golfweek. Eventually, the two companies approached the NCAA about Clippd taking over, and the NCAA agreed.
Clippd’s team went to work on rebuilding and relaunching the Spikemark website and mobile app, both of which have been live since September 27. With Clippd’s data platform as the main power source, the performance and reliability of both products have improved significantly.
Preston Summerhays of Arizona State at the 2022 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic)
To date, around 75 percent of all Div. I golf tournaments completed in the 2023-24 season have been published, and the remainder of Div. I, II and III are being added daily, the release stated.
However, there are still questions as to how a company that has never done live scoring was yet again awarded a contract to do just that.
“We could not be more focused in our desire to instill, reinstill some confidence in the college golf community,” Parnell said. “We have to do this properly. College golf needs it to be done properly. It is technically challenging.
“We will follow the best possible procedure as it relates to building this out so that it’ll be right, but it will be robust, it will be reliable, and ultimately it will knit together all of the various different elements of college golf.”
Clippd is working on building a website separate from its current one to host the college golf scoring and rankings. Parnell said his team of nearly 40 is working around the clock to input scores from the fall, build the website and take into account all of the different facets that come with live scoring.
Additionally, the NCAA, in consultation with its coaching community, will publish the first edition of Broadie’s new college rankings shortly after the end of the fall season, per the announcement.
“Derek had initially asked us to assess what had been built because he understood from our programs that we had pretty high degree of technical capability as well as understanding of what what what college golf actually looks like,” Parnell said. “Like it’s pretty complicated when you think about all the various different types of tournaments. In making that assessment, the reality is that what he had built for him with his tech partner was not, you know, it wasn’t architected the right way. It wasn’t designed the right way. It was never going to work.
“Our objective was to help Derek, help Spikemark and help college golf. Going forward. It will be a completely different tech that runs college golf.”
That’s why Parnell and his staff are working every day to make sure all of the data inputted into the system is correct and accurate, so when Broadie’s initial rankings come out, those are correct and accurate, too.
“We want the fans to families, student-athletes, the programs, the donors and everyone else to actually have something that’s really comprehensive,” Parnell said. “How long that will take? We’re working around the clock to make sure we get things ready and done and dusted.
“There’s a huge opportunity here for collectively as to really enrich the experience end to end. It’s about the athletes. It’s about the coaches. It’s about the families and it’s about the fans. It’s also about the programs and how they run. Particularly as you go up and down the various divisions, resources are different, sure, but they still deserve to have a great experience. That’s what we’re all about.”
When the transition period from Spikemark to Clippd is complete, there will be no mention of Spikemark anywhere in the college golf space, and Freeman isn’t going to be involved.
A screenshot from Clippd’s website showing some of its partners. (Photo: Clippd)
The issues Spikemark created are why Clippd has committed nearly its entire force to fixing college golf scoring in the short term. There will likely be bumps along the way, but the foundation is there and resources are there for it to be successful now and into the future.
“We just believe, done properly, there is an enormous opportunity for college golf to be elevated through the right digital experience,” Parnell said, “and that has to be an end-to-end thing. Frankly, college golf has sat kind of still for the better part of 30 years. And if we can really bring our expertise and our passion to bear on making that an infinitely better experience, then that’s what gets me excited and that’s what gets the whole team excited.
“We just have to get to stability. We have to get people to understand that this is really, while exciting, it’s a complex, technical beast.”