Hiring Outside of the Tee Box

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EZLinks Golf, a Chicago-based company affiliated with the PGA TOUR produces software and offers services to support operations in the golf industry. When they hired Gary Cohen to be their new CEO, they weren’t concerned with his golf swing, short game or putting stroke. In fact, Cohen’s not much of a golfer and his leisure connection to the game starts and stops with an occasional bucket of balls at the local driving range.

“I’ve hit enough golf balls to understand the love-hate relationship golfers have with the game. Out of every ten balls I hit, most of them aren’t any good, but the few good ones are gratifying and it makes me want to come back. But to be honest I like to go to gym, I’m into fitness,” Cohen told us.

Anyone that’s ever been a member at a club has seen the PGA Professional that spends more time on the golf course than helping members. Perhaps EZLinks is onto something by looking outside the industry to help grow the game. EZLinks doesn’t have to worry about Cohen regularly cutting out early for:

  • Friday afternoon money matches at the club with the boys
  • Monday lessons with his swing coach
  • Extended lunches at the driving range

Prior to EZLinks, Cohen experienced success at Redbox where he helped transform the company into a market leader. As senior vice president of marketing and customer experience, Cohen led the company’s product and innovation team and increased the company’s revenue from $300 million to approximately $2 billion in three years.

“Coming into the golf industry from the tech sector, I saw opportunity for technology innovation. For the most part, golf is a fragmented industry and tends to be small business owners, which typically aren’t on the cutting edge of technology. We as an industry need to do a better job of targeting customers and that’s our constant goal,” said Cohen.

It doesn’t take a lifetime on the golf course to understand golf’s blessings for the 10-percent of Americans that love the game. Cohen has a great appreciation for the comradery and decompression that happens on golf courses, however a low handicap isn’t a prerequisite for employment at EZLinks. Earlier this month the company announced the hiring of Vivek Aggarwal as chief financial officer, and promoted Chris Kapcar to chief technology officer; both have technology backgrounds.

“EZLinks Golf continues to seek and cultivate incredible talent in the Chicago area to grow technology business,” Cohen added.

Every year in Orlando at the PGA Merchandise Show the conversation is about, “growing the game.” Jack Nicklaus launched Golf 2.0, Annika Sorenstam discussed how important golf was to her and NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, said the next generation is the key to growing the game. Golf legends regularly talk about growth, but when EZLinks hired a new CEO to implement action that will actually impact growth, they swerved the golf industry and chose a techie.

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