Jerramy Hainline is senior vice president and general manager of GolfNow, an Orlando-based technology company that serves golfers and golf courses through its bestselling golf course management software and services. Hainline, who started working in golf at age 12, has played professional golf and has been promoted eight times during his 10 years at GolfNow. He is guided by his love of golf and a drive to excel, and he always raises his hand when an opportunity arises. He said the company will move ahead on strategies to drive innovation and help golf courses succeed in challenging times. GolfNow is part of the NBC Sports Group’s digital portfolio, along with Golf Channel, which recently moved from Orlando to Stamford, Connecticut.
What did you want to be growing up?
First it was a doctor, then a lawyer when my mom said I argued better than anyone else. Those professions, however, required a lot of school — not my favorite activity. Book learning drove me nuts. I loved growing from life skills and using street smarts, and I sought stories about people who charted their own paths. After discovering I also liked numbers, I settled on finance. But whatever I would become, I knew I wanted to be in control of the decision-making.
When did you fall in love with golf?
I played my first round of golf at age 8 in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I lived as a kid. The course featured sand greens that required players to drag/roll their line for each putt. I hit a sawed-off driver everywhere — I mean everywhere — except when putting, of course. Those two clubs were all I needed. Maybe that’s why driving and putting remain my best skills.
I started to play a lot when my family moved back to Seattle when I was around 11. People would say how difficult golf was or how much time it took to be good. I was always motivated by a challenge. All I wanted to do then was show everyone I could be good. I would stand in a deep greenside bunker and hit hundreds — no, thousands — of golf balls until I was the best bunker player around.
Practicing is awesome. Golf requires a lot of practice to be just average and an extraordinary number of hours to be good. That chase is something I still love today.
What was your first job? What did you learn from it?
It’s no surprise that my first job was at a golf course. I was 12 and cleaned golf clubs for $2 an hour. Minimum wage at the time was $3.35, so the first thing I learned was that all 12-year-olds were underpaid! Cleaning golf clubs isn’t glamorous, but it was how I developed people skills. I figured tips were my pathway to making money, and since the club members had that money, my strategy was simple: I would talk with adults about their kids, their jobs and, especially, their golf games, and they, in turn, would want to talk to me. Developing these skills set me up for what I do today.
GolfNow serves recreational golfers as well as golf courses “at the intersection of golf and technology.” For those of us who might not equate golf with technology, what does that mean?
When we talk about golf course technology, we are referring to the electronic tee sheet and the point-of-sale system that golf courses use. The electronic tee sheet is a fancy Excel sheet where golfers and information about them are tracked. Think of the point-of-sale as a cash register where cash and credit card payments are processed. GolfNow is the largest provider of that technology to golf courses in the world.
We also create digital tools to supplement the sale of tee times online, including automated pricing tools, social media management and email marketing. Traditionally, most tee times have been booked over the phone or in person, but in the last 10 years that has slowly shifted to online. 2020 accelerated this, and we don’t see it changing. GolfNow provides technology to seamlessly guide a golfer from booking a tee time online through the entire golfing experience — and it’s the reason we lead the industry.
You’ve been promoted eight times during your10 years at GolfNow. To what do you attribute this success?
I raise my hand when opportunity presents itself with no expectation of anything in return. It is that simple. There’s no magic formula. I have accepted challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. Fortunately, I have been pretty good at many of those tasks and have been rewarded.
What makes you an effective leader? In a nutshell, what does your current role as senior vice president and general manager entail, and what do you love best about it?
I am not above any person or any task in this business. I would never ask someone to do something I have not already done or would be unwilling to do myself. Having eight jobs and 10 years of experience at GolfNow affords me the ability to understand what I am asking of people. You can’t have empathy if you haven’t been there.
My current role is all about shaping the culture at GolfNow, and it’s important. Helping people find focus and success will build a business where people will beg to work. I want a diverse group of people who teach me as much as I teach them. That’s what I love about my job, finding ways to make people the best versions of themselves.
How have you and members of your sales team partnered with golf courses during the COVID-19 pandemic? What has been the biggest challenge and what were the solutions?
There were many questions when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Although golf was deemed safe, courses still had to make major operational changes to ensure that golfers and staff stayed safe. Technology helped provide a seamless, contact-free experience, and many golf courses that initially were forced to lock down would not have been able to reopen without help from GolfNow. We feel fortunate that we were able to help through our products and services.
Because of the pandemic, it’s fair to say that the demand for golf has changed, the golfer has changed, the way a golfer interacts with a golf course has changed — and the list goes on. We have a great opportunity to position ourselves in a way that perhaps no other company in the golf space has been able. Taking responsibility for leading those efforts is a tremendous opportunity, and focusing on the new golf climate is of paramount importance. You will see GolfNow become even more focused on strategies to drive innovation and help our golf course partners succeed.
How has your company helped provide access to golf among select groups such as the military and youth?
We have been blessed with a successful business, and we are always looking for ways to give back to important groups and organizations. We started MilitaryTeeTimes.com with the purpose of providing a 10% discount to all members of the military, past and present. My family served, as did my wife’s. We don’t know of a larger sacrifice, and it’s a small thing we can do for servicemen and women.
We also have a national partnership with Youth on Course, which provides kids with affordable access to golf courses. Locally, we support the Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association and First Tee of Central Florida, where I serve on the board of directors.
When was the last time you golfed? What was your score?
I played over the holidays, and I’m happy to say I broke 80 every time! My scores are ranging from 72 to 78, depending on how many phone calls I take during the round.
What are you most proud of?
No question, it’s my marriage of 23 years to Kassandra. We met in college and got married young. Our journey started in a motor home as we traveled around the country playing golf, with Kassandra as my caddie. We had nothing and built it all together. We have four beautiful daughters: Skias (16), Evanthea (14), Elektra (12) and Vasi (10). When I look at all that I have achieved professionally, it pales in comparison to what the six of us have achieved together.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Character is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room, and at the end of the day your name is all you have. What are people saying about you and your name when you aren’t around?
Photography by Julie Fletcher
As seen in January | February edition of i4 Business Magazine