The San Francisco company, which I raved about a year ago when I first tried it out, announced the funding at the VentureBeat party last night. The company isn’t disclosing the exact size of the round.
It’s now moving in that inevitable direction — to become a social network. You’ll soon be able to invite others to play with you, and chat live while on the course.
There are still questions about whether the free game can pull in the users and revenues to become a blockbuster hit, but one thing’s clear: The company is keeping quality high. It uses helicopters to take high-definition footage of real golf courses. Its software uses physics to calculate the mix of your actions, factoring in the club you pick, wind direction, the timing of your swing and even the surface of the grass. Its debut course is the Bali Hai in Las Vegas.
It doesn’t have much of competition at this level of game — and by this, I mean the attention to the physics and details of golf, and its online Flash-based graphics delivery. That may be why its taking its time. It has been in closed testing since last year, but it opens to the public in July with a new test version.
Then, you’ll be able to play a full round at the Bali Hai course, and also at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (in real life located in Charleston, S.C.).
The company will add the ability to chip and putt — not just drive. The company says more than 500,000 people in 150 countries have already played the basic demo on the site, and that the average visit is 20 minutes.
CEO YuChiang Cheng said the company will make money from sponsors, including PGA.com, TaylorMade and adidas Golf — by letting them showcase products within the experience. The site will give real-world info about resorts in the game, and provide access to tee time reservation systems and resort booking.
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition: Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.