01/26/2016

He was the 2015 Orlando Sentinel CEO of the Year. His company Flightscope had ascended to the top of the sport in their industry. Armed with most intuitive technology in golf, his company rapidly made themselves the game’s most reliable tech name for radar.

With a growing fascination for numbers and physics, golfers worldwide are plugging themselves in.  To understand this sport (and the athletes who play it) gaining measurable facts has become paramount.

So how did Henri Johnson get here? How did his company become one of the industry’s stalwarts?

henri johnson

It was 1989 and Johnson had begun his work with a company called EDH. EDH, the Electronic Development House, was starting to work in measuring motion. A born South African, Johnson had an initial focus on cricket in the form of the EDH SpeedBall. He then moved to tennis with RaquetRadar.

As the creator, Johnson was responsible for engineering the software and making it relevant in sport. Not that golf was an afterthought, but it wasn’t the focus for nearly another decade.

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It was 2000 when the first prototype for golf was created.

Johnson was spending time with Ernie Els and Els’ brother at a driving range in South Africa. The group began bantering about measurement and which information golfers truly desired. The evolution process for the Flightscope began.

After that day, Johnson began heavily pursuing this technology. It was a year, when in 2001, he was able to unveil his first demo in the United States. It was popular almost immediately. When he showed it to the PGA Tour at the PGA Tour headquarters, they had an interest in endorsing the product for their players.

Over the next year, Johnson spent time testing, fine-tuning, and displaying his new golf measurement software. It was in 2002 when things started to get interesting for the golf technology industry.

In April 2002, Johnson and his team conducted a proposal for a company called ISG, Interactive Sports Game. The company, with its roots in Denmark, was looking to gain insights into radar technology.

That year, a similar product was released out of Denmark. It was immediate competition for Flightscope.

In an attempt to challenge and expand the product growth, Flightscope went to Singapore and worked to conduct added testing and sales with golf professionals. It was a decision that almost sank the business.

When Flightscope came back and worked to re-boot the company, they had new competition in the radar technology industry, and it forced them to ramp up their efforts. It forced them to lean on their experience, experience they had built since 1989.

With their comprehensive, in-depth technology, Flightscope was able to give golfers data that could barely be matched. On top of that, Flightscope does so with a product built entirely in-house. They worked to go deeper than their competitors in validating the information they were receiving.

They were going to target PGA professionals.

By 2004, they were at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL looking to bring the product to the states. They were still based in South Africa, but knew expanding their market would help the product see and help more golfers.

At the Show, they developed a partnership with a golf games company called About Golf. About Golf is now home to the simulators seen on the Golf Channel every morning. With the traction gained at the first PGA Show, a move to the U.S. seemed imminent.

As you know by now, Flightscope made it to the states and became a renowned name among teaching professionals. They are able to give golfers the numbers they need and the simplicity to manage it. But it took more than three more years for a move to happen.

By 2008, they came to the states and formed the company. The company’s sales exploded. They took that growth and generated an estimated customers base of some 9,000 people worldwide, today.

As the company started to escalate in status, the notoriety did, as well.

By 2014, Flightscope won a “Stevie Award” for Best Consumer Product.

From 2008-2012, since the move to the U.S., Flightscope saw their sales growth 30% year-over-year. They became more than innovators.

“We’re clear market leaders in the industry,” said Johnson, in a phone interview.

Today, Flightscope is looking to grow their company with different products and syncing with their technology. In fact, they’re the first to have wireless technology installed in their products and apps. They are using this to venture into ancillary products.

One is called the “focus band.” Based out of Australia, it is a product which measures the mind’s activity during sport. Flightscope has an exclusive agreement with the focus band for integration–an initiative they’re very excited about.

Jason Day used the focus band for the final 8-months of the 2015 golf season. The product started selling in January 2016.

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The road for Flightscope has been one of 25 years, many countries, partners, investments, competition, but mostly innovation.

They, along with their CEO Henri Johnson, have been able to change the golf industry, for the better.