He set out to create an all-encompassing, tech-enabled golf platform that would make his favorite sport more fun, accessible, convenient, and transparent — but Somanath Chilukuri already knew the hazards of the crowded course ahead of him.
“Today there is so much app overload on people,” said Chilukuri, an Olathe IT professional and the founder of the eClub Golf app. “I want to have one portal that people can do a lot of things together on the portal as a one stop for golf.”
His hope with an improved version of the app that launched this summer: connecting players to the larger Kansas City community of golf enthusiasts, he said.
The free-to-download app allows golfers the opportunity to join virtual leagues, participate in weekly and seasonal leaderboards, network with other golfers, and stay up to date on events in the area, according to Chilukuri.
Click here to explore the eClub Golf app.
“(I want to) make the players’ golf more rewarding than what it is today,” he added. “People come, play the round, throw the score away, and go. I want a scorecard to mean something.”
His passion is for recreational golf, he said, so the app aims to broaden connections for golfers who don’t belong to a club.
“Avenues for recreational golf right now, I felt, are pretty limiting,” Chilukuri continued. “Competitive golfers have some events. There’s already community in place.”
eClub Golf provides another outlet for recreational golfers besides tournaments, which Chilukuri said are mainly for scratch golfers and expensive; scrambles, which aren’t competitive and are mainly for charity; and leagues, which limit where and with whom players compete.
“There is no connection with the larger community,” he added, about playing in leagues.
The app — which has about 400 users, although not all are active — provides competition and community for golfers of all skill levels and ages, he said.
“Golf is the only sport where skill level doesn’t really matter because there is something called a handicap,” he explained. “It can be very engaging across skill levels.”
While the app is free to download, there is a league fee if users choose to join or start their own league. Part of the league fee goes toward the prize fund; another portion goes to the portal fee.
Each season wraps up with a tournament. This year, the The Amateur Open of KC – Net Championship is set for Sept. 12 and 13 at Fire Keeper Golf Course in Topeka in partnership with Central Links Golf. Players can qualify through participation in eClub Golf leagues or other recognized leagues and tours.
For the love of golf
For most of Chilukuri’s 23-year career in the IT industry, he has traveled back and forth between the United States and India. In 2013, he moved permanently to the U.S., and in 2015, he landed in the Kansas City metro area.
His interest in golf actually began in India, he said, where golf courses are typically run by the army because they have access to land, water, and manpower. At first, he mainly went to the courses for the good breakfast they served, Chilukuri said.
“I never thought that golf was a sport that I would look at,” he added.
But after five years of breakfast and nine holes of golf, he said he realized the multi-faceted attraction to the game.
“I feel that its meditation, relaxation, activity, and networking, all bundled into one,” he explained.
To share his passion with others, Chilukuri first founded eClub Golf in 2018, starting as a small group with a spreadsheet. That evolved into a website in 2019 and then the first version of the app in 2021.
The app has been self-funded, so far, but he said he hopes to find funding as he works on launching a game-changing third version.
eClub Golf’s platform is not limited to Kansas City, Chilukuri said, noting his hopes for launching and marketing the app in other cities in the future.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.