On episode 173 we sit down with Tom Naramore, the CEO of D3Golf.com — to learn more about his golf app that allows you to wager against your friends on a round of golf.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports Show Episode #173. Super excited to have you here today. We have a treat for you golf fans today. We have another special guest that’s gonna talk a little bit about his product and what he has going on, so I’ll introduce him here in a second. But first thing’s first, hopefully you guys are all doing well, excited for football. At the time of this podcast, it’s August 16th and we’re just a few weeks away from football season. Super excited for that, cannot wait for that to get started, both college and professional. Should be a lot of fun. Um, I wanted to give you guys a thank you for all the support you’ve been giving in the comments. Every time we put one of these out you seem to enjoy it, and uh, all the support you give our guests as well. Hopefully it’s been valuable to you, learning about all of these awesome guests and what they are up to. So, without further ado, I’m gonna go ahead and bring on our guest. Today I have Tom Naramore, the CEO of D3Golf.com. Tom, how are you today?

TOM NARAMORE

I’m fantastic. I appreciate the [unintelligible] here man. Uh, pretty excited to talk to you today.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, really excited to have you on as well. I know we’ve spoken a few times offline, and not on the show, so, having you on and really diving in to what you have going on, man. I think the listeners are in for a treat, so thank you for your time first of all. Um, first off, man, how are you? How’s life? Life treating you okay?

TOM NARAMORE

Life is great. You’re not gonna believe this, but it’s actually my birthday today.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Well, celebration time. I wish I had a little icon that could do, like, balloons and, like “Doo-do-doo”. [Unintelligable]. But happy birthday, Tom.

TOM NARAMORE

Thanks man, I appreciate it. My mom never thought I’d make it this far, but yeah. Turn 56 today, and um, life’s good, man. Life’s great. Um, we’ll probably get into it a little bit, but getting paid to play golf is, uh, not much better than that.

RYAN KNUPPEL

For sure, and we will. We’ll dive all into that. But first, tell me a little bit about yourself, and kinda, maybe your career background. Kind of where you’ve been, what led you to D3Golf.

TOM NARAMORE

You bet. So, uh, I have a recreation administration degree. Private enterprise, uh, speciality, out in Chico State. Uh, graduated back in the 80s from Chico, and went into the sports field. Uh, started off doing marketing for Sugar Bowl Ski Resort up in Tahoe, was there for about three years. Uh, then tried my own, the first company I started on my own, a little sports marketing company. Um, did a couple of events as a vendor, you know, kinda outside vendor, and then from there, um, life really changed. I made some television contacts along the way and I wanted to be in the local producer, the Jerry Lewis Telethon, uh, out in Northern California. So, did that for about four years, and then made a giant change and went into the cell phone industry, back when everything was in the, uh, analog days, right? The flip phones and all of that. So I did commission sales for seven years, wound up in corporate sales, worked at three different carriers, and, um, serendipitously, after seven years, I was looking for another avenue to get into, and this is leading into my tech career. Uh, as I had mentioned, I wasn’t a tech guy, didn’t know anything about computers, blah blah blah. I was in the right place at the right time and wound up, uh, the indirect sales manager for StartUp.com here in the United States, and I became their national indirect sales manager. What that means was they purchased 36 companies and I went around to all 36 properties, made one national sales force, and one cohesive line of products, and we were purchased by EarthLink for $308 million. Was my first exit, uh, and luckily the division that I had created at OneMain.com, uh, parlayed into them offering me a position in their acquisitions department, so, I did MNA work for 4 years for them. Ran around the country buying companies. Why am I telling you that? When I rode airplanes, uh, all over the nation, to meet with these business owners and figure out if they want to sell their company to EarthLink, people would ask me on the airplanes what I did for a living, and I told them I was a professional golfer. And, people would laugh just like that, because I’m all of 5’6″ and 150 lbs soaking wet, and they’re like, “This guy’s B.S.ing me, what’s going on?”. So, I would laugh, and it was kind of an ice breaker, and I said, “No, no, no, I get paid to play golf”.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah.

TOM NARAMORE

So, I left that position in 2003, and, um, I had been trying to figure out how to get paid to play golf again ever since, so. Uh, that’s the quick story that launched me into the tech career, and here I sit today.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s super cool. Man, what a crazy path. One thing I like to tell my kids, and just people that are getting into any space: Any sales job that you can take is viable to your life and your career. I truly believe taking a sales job, no matter what industry it’s in, can teach you a lot. And if you become good at that, that’s gonna translate over into the entrepreneurial world for sure, so I commend you on going down that sales path. I’m sure you’re using a lot of those skills, uh, in everyday life as you are today.

TOM NARAMORE

Absolutely. You know, the greatest thing, I mean if you’ve got any young listeners out there, the biggest phrase and in the research that I did when I learned the phrase of “sales without solicitation”, um, is really another way of saying “creating relationships”, right? Um, if you have to sell somebody something, um, they might buy it once, right? But if you create a relationship, you can do business forever. So, yeah, rely on that every day.

RYAN KNUPPEL

For sure, for sure. Okay, well let’s jump into D3Golf. We’re not talking Division III golf, because when people see D3, sometimes, especially me being a DIII basketball player, I think Division III. Tell us, first of all, what D3Golf.com is, what it actually stands for, what the concept is, and we’ll pull it up here on the screen as well.

TOM NARAMORE

Sounds good, so Dollar Dollar Dollar Inc. is the name of the company. Uh, but the URL was too long, and all that good stuff, so we came up with D3Golf.com. It is literally a mobile app that allows people to bet each other, have their side games, when they’re together on the same course, or apart on different courses on different days on different times. Um, I play my uncle every week. He’s in Georgia, I’m in California. I just got off a three-day golf trip up in the Lake Tahoe area with 11 of my buddies. We did a big golfing, uh, outing, right at some homes, and had a great time. We played Skins and Nassau and Stableford, had all these other side games, and one on one challenges. The interesting thing, or the only thing, um, that–I shouldn’t say the only thing that makes us different–what we have championed, and our first mover in the space, is we have a digital wallet that rides next to our game scoring engine, right? There’s a lot of digital scorecards out there, where, you know, it’ll tell you, you know, who’s in the lead, or something of that nature, but the interesting thing about our app is everybody that wagers against each other, the app escrows the bet. The money is inside the app. It’s always the player’s money, you can cash out for free at any time, you can put money in it for free at any time. So that’s how it works, you know? You can bet as little as, you can bet your buddies as little as 25 cents, or you can bet them up, we’ve got a limit of $10,000 on there.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I was gonna ask if there was an upper limit, I think that can get a little dangerous. That’s really cool, that’s a really cool concept, and I think golf fans can really relate to that. Because you’re always looking for that, you know, like, that competition within the competition, right? Because a lot of times golf, especially if you’re not in a big tournament or something, you’re out there, you’re playing, it’s kind of bragging rights, all of the above, maybe you’ll throw a few dollar bet here or there on different things. And so this really streamlines that for you, and lets you guys really put it all onto one app so it’s all just organized and legit, I guess you would call it.

TOM NARAMORE

Yeah, not just legit, but it’s interesting; when you get into the math of actually how a course handicap works, right, nobody does it correctly when they do it on paper, right? You get to, you know, super low indexes, a 2 playing a 1? Alright, those guys can figure it out pretty easy. But when you’ve got a really good player, you know, a 2, 3, 4, or a 5, and then you have a 25 index that’s playing, that math is complicated. There are extra depending on what the slope rating is of a certain tee box, maybe the 25 wants to play a tee box that’s forward of the guys that are gonna play the tips. We work exclusively with the USGA and the World Handicap System to make sure our math was right, and interestingly enough, we went one step further, right? Uh, when people start realizing that you can play on a different course on a different day, well, the first hole on Course A may be a Par 5, and the first hole on Course B may be a Par 4. So we work with the USGA on how to, uh, equalize all of that, and make sure the pops were correct. So, yeah. It’s a complicated math problem.

RYAN KNUPPEL

It is, I mean I don’t think…yeah. I didn’t even think of that side of it, but really, truly, the handicaps, and trying to balance it across courses and all of the above. So let me ask, are all courses in this? Would all courses that anybody would play pretty much in this? Or is that a constant challenge of yours, trying to add new courses into the database and things of that nature?

TOM NARAMORE

So, we have an outstanding partner of ours, L1 Technologies, iGolf. They manage all of that for us. All the GPS work, I mean, internal to the app is full GPS, uh, and, you know, you’ve got yardage markers that you can move this little pointer around to figure out what obstacles are far, you know, how far things are away, or how long you have to carry the water, and anything like that. And iGolf gives us that, uh, every day we get an update from them. All 43,000 golf courses in the world that are rated by the governing bodies, depending on what continent they are on, iGolf keeps track of all of that, so our database is refreshed every day. So, just in the U.S., there’s a little more than 16,000 courses, uh, that are in the rating system, so yeah, they are all loaded.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. Amazing. Let’s talk a little bit about the business side, because of course, I mean, we’re all in business to make money and to drive revenue and things of that nature. So, talk a little bit about the, how the revenue side works from the business side. I mean, is there a subscription fee to use this, do you take a little piece off of all the money coming in? Tell us a little bit about how that works from a business side for you guys.

TOM NARAMORE

Yeah, so, uh, what we do is highly, highly regulated, right? There are three levels of, I’m gonna call it wagering. There’s full-on gambling, right? There is daily fantasy sports, which is regulated differently, and then there’s this new category that we were literally one of the first movers in 2018, uh, to get, uh, accredited to be able to do this type of business through all of the regulators, and, um, so the business side of it, we have three different business models that make up our revenues. The first one is the DraftKings model, right? Which is, we charge a game admin fee to the winner, okay? So, it’s a very important distinction when you get into compliance. Any company that takes money upfront, you need a gambling license to do that, right? Something that’s term vig, or a rake, right? Uh, that constitutes you’re possibly in the gaming space and need those, uh, legal license to be able to do that, right? So, so yeah, that’s how it works. We charge a 10% game admin fee to the winner. We’re in version two right now, I just started development of version three, and we are gonna offer a premium service. It’ll be somewhere between $49 and $99 a year, and then you as a player have no game admin fee, right? And what we learned is, our higher-end wagering guys, the guys that bet, you know, $100, $200, $300, $400, $500, a round against their buddies? They don’t want to pay a 10% game admin, it’s too much, it’s too much. So, we work with them exclusively. We’re gonna be coming out with this thing, so, yeah, $40-$99 a year, and bam, you’re ready to go. We’ll also have separate tournaments for them as well, for the premium users, that can play against, uh, each other in these virtual tournaments. Um, and then, I already kind of, uh, let you know that I come from an events background.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Sure.

TOM NARAMORE

Based off of this platform that we’ve invented for golf, which is remote play, which the USGA loves, um, people can play on different courses, right? We have something called the celebrity challenge. We’re working with many celebrities right now, and the way our system works, we did our first one with Hannah Gregg, she’s on the ladie’s mini tour right now. Throughout a challenge, through our system, we had a sponsor, and we had people from 13 states play against her over a two week period, and all the money went to charity. So, uh, we’re working with a bunch of different sponsors right now, um, and a bunch of different celebrities, and we’re gonna start putting these events together, and, literally, Ryan, we wanna throw the largest charity golf tournament in the world.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that. And why not? You can do it from all over, right? That’s really cool. You don’t have to be localized to make that happen, that’s really neat.

TOM NARAMORE

Right, exactly, exactly. So, you’ve got–I’m just gonna throw a name out there–right? I mean, who would love to play against Adam Sandler, or Bill Murray, right? And, those guys are out on Pebble Beach. Uh, we’ll do an event with those guys together, maybe a Skins game with them, have a sponsor, but anybody within the network around the world can go to play their course and play against those guys for charity. And be able to win money, too, you know?

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah, that’s really cool. That’s uh, that’s amazing. Thank you for kind of laying out some different revenue models. I think, yeah, all three of those are different in their own way, but I can see a need for all of them. I wanted to touch on one thing, and this is more of just a, I don’t know, more of a “me” thing, I guess. So, I mean, golf we all know is, like, your honors game, it’s like the honor system. Even when you’re playing with a group of people, it’s still very honest type of thing. I can see this, maybe enticing some bad behaviors, or, I don’t know how I want to ask this, how do you police that? I’m sure you can’t really police that, but is that a concern of people that use the app?

TOM NARAMORE

Right, that’s my #1 question when talking to, uh, potential investors, or whomever. “How do you guys deal with cheaters?”, right? We all know there’s baggers out there in every golf club, right? And it was one of the first things that the USGA said to me, uh, when they asked me one question. They said, “Are you going to calculate just like we do at the USGA, or RNA through the WHS, are you gonna give your players an index?”. And I said, “Heck yeah, we’re gonna calculate a D3 index that’s not changeable”.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hmm, okay.

TOM NARAMORE

So after your third round, we populate next to the index, next to the handicap you tell us that you are, right? Which the way the app works when you sign up and register, you get to put in your index. We’re working to bring in the GHIN system, uh, right now. But you tell what the index is. After your third round, we populate what your D3 index is. And it’s not changeable. If those two are different, uh, and it’s on your public profile, you can see that. But I’m gonna take it one step further, and the USGA brought this up. They said, “Hey, Tom. Yeah, we verified all your math, it’s great, but with you calculating your own index, you realize that you’re possibly gonna have truer index publication than we are.” And I said, “I think so, but I want you to tell me what you’re talking about.” And she said, “Well, look. The way people cheat the USGA is during their practice rounds, they up their score. They add strokes.” Right? And she said, “How are people gonna cheat you?”. And I said,
“Well, they’re gonna lower their strokes”. And she said, “Yep, and then you’re gonna publish their index off of that lower game? These people are just gonna continuously screw themselves.”. And so, that’s one, that’s just one of the top ways. But we have a bunch of software behind this, and, uh, and so, yeah, we’ve got it pretty well-wired.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s very interesting. So, so tell us about the future of this. You know, where is this headed? You know, obviously you guys are already live, right? You’ve got the app out there, everything’s working, people can go download, sign up, and play right now. But where are you headed in the future with all of this?

TOM NARAMORE

You know, we’re headed to the Metaverse. Uh, and all things web3, right? So, what we’ve learned since 2018 is whole new emerging market called sports entertainment, right? Or actually, golf entertainment as well. Top Golf spearheaded this whole thing, but you’ve got Puttshack, and Puttery, and Drive Shack, and PopStroke, I mean, the list goes on and on and on, right? Five Iron Golf, Inrange, the list just goes on and on of all of these companies that are coming into view. Uh, people don’t know about it yet, but Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake have just come together on a venture. They’re building, they’re gonna build a chain of sports bars across the U.S. that have sports, that have golf simulators, uh, golf simulators, shuffle board, darts, and billiards in it, right?

RYAN KNUPPEL

Wow.

TOM NARAMORE

So the thing about D3Golf, what we’ve patented, what is our super power, is our legal digital wallet for peer-to-peer challenges, right? We wanna be the intelligence inside all of those other companies. So, we are, we’re talking with everybody right now, I have a big call after this today, and we want to, and we will, sell licenses and license our SAS platform into those companies. Either deliver them a full-featured mobile app, or through APIs, we’ll just have our digital wallet work within their ecosystem.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s a cool future man. I mean, being anywhere in the Metaverse and talking web3 in that area, I love that, you know, the possibilities there. And I know, just here in Orlando we have Drive Shack, and down the road, Tiger just put up his, what is it called, PopStroke or whatever. That just launched here, we have a Top Golf down the road, so we have all three of them within, like, 10 minutes of where I live. So you’re right. It’s here, and it’s all over the place.

TOM NARAMORE

Yep, so listen, with your D3 app, right? Let’s say you’re out, you got a special invite in Orlando, right? You’re out on Isleworth, right? So you play around at Isleworth and, and that was Friday night, and then you and some buddies rip down to PopStroke, right? Uh, bring your families, and now that you’ve gone into PopStroke, our app through locations services pops up, says, “Hey, why don’t you have a little putting contest with your buddy, right, for a buck?”. Right? And donate that to charity, or whatever. So, that’s what’s coming down the pipe.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s where it’s headed, that’s really neat. That’s awesome Tom. I mean, this sounds amazing, I could talk forever about this. I think you could too, obviously. It’s your birthday, and here you are sitting here, going on and on, and I can tell you’re very passionate about it. I give you props for where it’s at. Tell the audience how to get it, where to get it, how to get started here, if there’s any instructions to that.

TOM NARAMORE

Very simple, yeah. D3Golf.com, our website. Um, one thing about app stores is sometimes it’s a little tough to find all the apps, so go to our website. The direct links to the Google and Apple playstores are right there. Yep, D3Golf.com, go to that website, click on those with your mobile phone, go right in to the app and it’s free to download, it’s free to load your wallet, and it’s free to cash out at anytime. It’s always your money, um, and look for changes coming down the road. Um, also, if people want to get a hold of me, I am absolutely readily available. It’s that same address, D3Golf.com, but my email address is just my first initial: “T”. Right? T@D3Golf.com. Shoot me an email, tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like, tell me what you’d like to see. I wanna hear from everybody.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s awesome. We’ll put those in the show notes as well, that way people can get on them. We’ll make sure that they get a hold of you if they ask, so…Tom, I really appreciate your time. This was amazing, I think, like I said, we could talk forever about this, but I know you got other meeting to run off to. Probably got a drink or a dinner or something to go to tonight, I hope, right?

TOM NARAMORE

We do. My cofounder’s gonna take my wife and I out for a nice dinner tonight, so we’re excited.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. That’ll be awesome. Alright, before I let you go, any last words, anything we missed, anything you wanted to touch on that I may have escaped in this conversation?

TOM NARAMORE

Play often, play freely, and uh, see if you can win a buck from your buddies. That’s all I got for you.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. Awesome, Tom. Happy birthday, I appreciate your time here today, and we’ll talk to you soon.

TOM NARAMORE

Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Bye-bye.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Bye-bye.

Alright, that was Tom Naramore, D3Golf.com. I think you guys, uh, saw some really cool things going on with D3Golf, and as Tom alluded to, there’s a lot going on, in like the future of golf, the digital golf game, all this stuff that’s going on is really cool. I urge you guys to go download the app, D3Golf.com. Get a hold of Tom if you need to. We’ll put all those links in the show notes. Um, I appreciate you tuning in. If you have other guests that you wanna see on this show that may be a good fit, anybody in sports business, anybody in sports betting, gaming, we’d love to talk to people that are just making a difference in this industry that we all know and love. So, feel free to reach out. I’m Ryan Knuppel, @knup on all the social media channels, you can find me out there. Until next time, stay safe, and we will talk to you soon. Thanks, and have a great day. Bye-bye.

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