LeadingCourses is an online platform for golfers to discover, book and share their next golf experience throughout the world. It is Europe’s largest community platform with 400K monthly visitors, containing over 385.000 reviews of golf courses worldwide. LeadingCourses helps golfers to find and play golf courses and to support other golfers. 

The state of the project when we joined

Amsterdam Standard joined the project in September 2020, when Ruben Meiland took charge of the LeadingCourses platform development. Our team started to work on a new version of the platform - Eagle, that was to replace the old application in which both the technology and interface needed an update. Besides LeadingCourses, two other parties (responsible for respectively backend and frontend) were involved in the creation of Eagle. However, the communication between the parties was far from ideal. Besides that, there were a significant number of technical challenges. 

Setting up the project with Scrum

Our journey on the project started with a small dedicated team. Just three professionals were involved - a project manager and two software developers. To get a clear overview of all the improvements needed and to prioritize these tasks, we have created a descriptive list of issues. This way, management became aware of all the pitfalls in the current state of applications. As a next step, we united technical backlogs from both parties into one system (Jira) and proposed an efficient way of working. During several workshops with the management team, we’ve created a roadmap, defined the workflow and chose the tools. 

As a result, proper Scrum meetings were set, all the backlogs were centralized, and the backend- and frontend refinements were aligned and merged. We also started to measure the velocity of the team.

The further growth of the dedicated team

After a while, Amsterdam Standard developers took over the front-end development of LeadingCourses. Also, a tester was added to the project to help a newly appointed Product Owner. That solution proved to be very beneficial. Thanks to her work, our team made sure the system runs like clockwork, and all content is crawlable by search engines. The client has requested to organise a second team, "Albatros", to cover a growing number of new projects and features. 

Results of our dedicated team’s work

Both teams worked simultaneously on maintaining the current version of the application and building the new one. Eagle was successfully launched in April. 

One of the most significant improvements made compared to the previous platform is automated crash recovery. Because of our solution, the service was constantly monitored and automatically restarted when an anomaly was detected. This reduced downtime to negligible numbers. We’ve also implemented connectors for two new booking APIs, which let the client offer direct bookings for more golf clubs. This adds value to both the current and the new version of the platform.

For the new version, we refactored a large amount of code. We got rid of redundant code by switching from procedural style code with lots of repetition to reusable components. This made the coding process faster and less error-prone. We eliminated JavaScript code that was long, difficult to read and slowed down the app and replaced it (by the large part) with CSS. We made an app server-side rendered not just by definition. Besides that, we fixed many differences between pages rendered on the server and on the browser. This has improved performance dramatically and eliminated most of the console errors. After that, we created a map view, added a gallery, and changed the filters. Additionally, we have applied many performance improvements (sometimes connected to SSR updates) to the application to make it faster.

Future plans

Leadingcourses has very ambitious plans. The platform plans to grow rapidly within Europe. That’s why we are continuously working on the stability of the system and extending its offer, improving the booking engine and customer journeys, adding more valuable content and building new community-focused features are a few of the opportunities for future development. We are extending our development team. In April, the team grew nine specialists. 

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