Knowledge Library

Engaging with golfers early and often, for success later

May 19, 2020

Right approach can strengthen customer relationships during crisis

No training or prior experience could have prepared course operators for market conditions brought on by the virus pandemic. And yet there’s been a display of innovative problem-solving well worth recognizing, as golf navigates this health crisis en route to better times. Those successes form a strong base to build on as courses work to build their revenues in the second and third quarters.

What golfers will remember about the early part of the season is a combination of contagion-fighting policies and customer-care messaging. Anywhere courses have been open, golfers have responded enthusiastically to the thoughtful decision-making on the part of managers.

Bismarck Tribune, would be frequent and likely quite positive. Prominent stories about such unique moves as installing a four-inch PVC pipe in the hole of each green provided reassurance and helped Doppler’s operation establish credibility.

“Our local media has done a good job informing the community about the steps we’ve taken to keep everyone safe,” says Doppler. “It’s put us in a good light and it’s resulted in golfers knowing what to expect when they get here.” 

Information about “eliminating touch points” was posted on the parks department website and starters on every first tee were trained in how to continue the information campaign. “Range balls in the past were distributed in buckets from the golf shop,” Doppler says, citing one example. “Our solution for that problem was to keep a trash can full of practice balls on the starter’s cart and dump out a basket for each player ourselves. As a staff we’ve been constantly checking to see that golfers seemed to feel safe here, and that’s really been the case.”

The Bismarck golf system got a major boost—as did many other golf operations—from its switchover to online prepayment of green fees, using GOLFNOW technology as a platform. Ways in which that move bodes well for the future, according to Doppler, include the capability to data-gather on individual purchasing patterns. “We’re now able to build a profile of the customer,” he says. “Which golf ball to suggest, or what brand of beer—they can see that their preferred items are available and order off the app, even while they’re out on the course.”

At semi-private Beekman Golf Course in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., the job of engaging effectively with golfers started with lots of staff meetings to gather ideas and get team members in synch with the safety and service program. On-site signage was relied on heavily at the outset, along with messages on the voicemail greeting and lots of staff-to-customer explaining. That included information about precautions taken to ensure that staffers, themselves, were ultra-compliant—down to designated bathrooms in the clubhouse.

“Based on all the safety measures we took, we built up a lot of goodwill,” says Jon Phillips, general manager of the facility. “We were a pretty well-honed operation from the start, at a time when courses across the state line in New Jersey weren’t open, so I would see a lot of New Jersey license plates in the parking lot. In that sense we’ve been able to expand our audience.”

On an industry-wide basis, there are lobbying and public-information campaigns spreading the word about the simplicity of social distancing out on the fairways. GOLF Business Solutions through its GOLFNOW, GOLF Advisor, Clubhouse Solutions and ClubBuy brands also is offering course operators a constant flow of information, services and products that can help them navigate the challenges of operating during the health crisis. That effort, along with frontline stories of golf staffs going all-out to problem-solve under trying conditions, contribute to the important work of golfer engagement now and in the months to come.


Helping Golf Courses Navigate Challenges Presented by COVID-19

May 07, 2020

Golf courses across the U.S. that are remaining open during the current COVID-19 health situation are getting some extra help through technology and services offered by GOLF Business Solutions to keep their staff and golfers safer.

As the world’s largest online tee time marketplace, GOLFNOW holds a unique position in the industry. Its connection to more than 9,000 golf course operations around the globe provides access to real-time market data any day, any time, which helps golf course operators make better-informed decisions about their businesses. This dynamic data is not available to any other organization, which must rely on information from polling and telephone surveys that can become obsolete soon after it’s collected. Additionally, the GOLFNOW sales team has “boots on the ground” in localities around the world and are continually taking the pulse of golf course operators in their respective areas.

GOLF Business Solutions also is offering any golf course posting tee times online with the option to switch its entire online tee-time inventory to pre-paid. This choice will allow golf course operators to adhere to social-distancing protocols – keeping their staff and golfers safer – while giving their golfers a “touchless” option for playing golf; in many cases, allowing them to go right from the parking lot to the first tee. There is no additional cost for this service, only the standard credit-card processing fees any business incurs when facilitating payments this way.

“These golf courses are trying to maintain viable businesses while also working to safeguard the health and safety of their staff and their customers, so they are facing an entirely new set of challenges,” said Jeff Foster, senior vice president, GOLFNOW. “We’ve been able to provide some of our existing technology in new ways in order to give them options and help them navigate these challenges more successfully, as well as give both golf courses and golfers added peace of mind.”

“We are making our operation the safest possible with the payment on file (credit card),” said Tim Doppler, Director of Golf Operations for the City of Bismarck, N.D. “We have set things up so people are required to put a card on file and they are buying range balls over the phone … we are delivering them to the range and everyone is as safe as can be. This has been the only way we can be open.”

Doppler also mentioned that he will continue to sell green fees and season passes in the same pre-paid fashion into the future.

Additionally, as government directives in certain states are requiring the closure of bars and restaurants, GOLFNOW is offering golf courses with dining facilities the ability to keep their kitchens open. Through its burgeoning SmartPlay service, which is available to courses using GOLF Business Solutions’ G1 course management technology, courses can continue to offer food via delivery, both on the golf course and, in some cases, within the community.

Todd Creek Golf Club, a full-service golf course facility located in Thorton, Colo., recently closed all seating at its on-site restaurant and bar as a precaution due to COVID-19. By using the SmartPlay component of G1, the club is able to offer food through a full-service window, as well as delivering it to golfers playing the course. Additionally, Todd Creek is offering residents of the surrounding 55-plus community an option of picking up food items from its clubhouse or having them delivered to their homes from a limited Food Pantry menu.

“SmartPlay has worked wonders for our community pantry that we initiated with the current pandemic,” said Jeremy Casebolt, General Manager, Todd Creek Golf Club. “Giving our community the ability to place their order online for pick up has helped ease the stress during these irregular times.”

 

EXPLORE MORE ON OUR COVID-19 HUB →


Sign of the times: rapid adoption of pre-payment online

Apr 29, 2020

“Necessity for doing business,” say course operators

When COVID-19 recedes and Beekman Golf Course returns to normal, the staff might not have to resume its love-hate relationship with the golf shop phone. This spring’s bizarre circumstances caused the 27-hole course outside Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to require that all bookings be made online and all fees paid at time of booking. General manager Jon Phillips, who’s also a co-owner of the facility, was forced to enact this policy and now dearly hopes he can keep it in force.

“Warm weather got here early and just about every activity besides golf was banned,” says Phillips. “We held a meeting to figure out how we could handle the demand while keeping ourselves safe and the golfers safe. Having every staff member picking up the same phone and having golfers coming into the shop for check-in were clearly unsafe practices. We found a way to avoid both.”

Technology allowed Beekman’s skeletal staff to funnel golfers from the parking lot to the first tee while maintaining social distancing and preventing people from touching objects and surfaces others had also touched. Stir-crazy golfers responded unflinchingly, to protect their own well-being and to keep the course from having to close.

“When you called our phone, the greeting would tell you to book online and pay in advance,” says Phillips. “People learned about the new rule that way or they found out from their friends – there was a lot of word of mouth about it.” There was also a lot of cooperation because Beekman’s regulars and newcomers understood that they were taking all the right steps necessary to make their golf environment safe. For the staff, online booking was gold – keeping it that way has emerged as a new priority.

“I keep thinking about the 1,500 calls we get every week in the summertime,” says Phillips. “If we can stick with our payment policy – now that customers are getting in the habit – we can eliminate the majority of our phone calls each week, which would make running our business 100 times simpler and improve the level of service we provide.”

Once he realized his standard procedures were out the window, Phillips contacted GOLFNOW and requested details about the pre-payment option. Senior Specialist Scott Jewell set to work upgrading the Beekman tee sheet and arranging for prepaid green fee dollars to hit the facility’s bank account.

“Over the past year, GOLFNOW has been continually innovating our payments technology and we were quickly able to pivot to meet the increased demand of providing pre-paid tee times,” said Jeff Foster, senior vice president, GOLFNOW. “Now, more than 500 courses are either offering a prepaid option or have signed up to implement the GOLFNOW technology, a number that continues to grow as more states are opening back up and golf courses start to come back online.”

“I knew GOLFNOW could do this,” Phillips says, “but I was surprised at how rapidly everything happened. Their first step was to flow the cash to us, which they did immediately. Then pretty quickly thereafter they set up our software for tracking deposits and managing the funds internally. During that conversion period I would send Scott 50 or 60 emails a day—it was like he had come to work for us full-time.”

A similar case of innovation in the face of disruption has unfolded this spring for the Country Club of Arkansas and its general manager, Tim Jenkins. Sometime in February, Jenkins found himself on a golf operations online forum devoted to just one topic – the questions and even chaos surrounding coronavirus and its threats to human health and the economy.

“We were able to get out in front of it,” says Jenkins, whose early spring weather in the Little Rock region turned very favorable for golf. He realized that standing in the shop loading 16-digit card numbers and expiration dates into the computer, with the phone ringing constantly, was clearly not viable. “We brainstormed for every idea we could think of until we had an operating format that we felt would ensure safety. Central to that was payment in advance online.”

Jenkins reached out to his GOLFNOW specialist to ask about installing the pre-pay feature and within 48 hours the requirement was built into C.C. of Arkansas’s account. He and his team used their voicemail greeting to explain this new approach and echoed that with plenty of signage—including tournament-style placards on the golf carts with each player’s name and their tee time. When golfers showed up, they found the cart key—disinfected— already in the ignition, plus any beverage or merchandise items they had ordered online. Equipped with the Visage communications system, the carts became rolling receivers of coronavirus information and instruction, another vital tool in the course’s pandemic-countering strategy.

“Our golfers were more than okay with pre-payment,” reports Jenkins, who heard thankful responses to the stocked and staged golf carts. “People would walk over and see their name, see their beer, their range balls, and whatever else they asked for, and they’d be tickled,” he says.

During one busy morning Jenkins paused to reflect that, different as the new system was, it actually bore a strong resemblance to what consumers experience elsewhere. “Think about it,” he says. “How often do our customers fly into an airport, walk past the rental car counter and go straight to their vehicle? I’m going to guess that’s how they do it every time. It’s only golf that was still doing things the old way.”

There’s a long list of inventions that emerged from sudden, disruptive events and occurrences. From what course operators have experienced during this pandemic, you’d naturally expect that pre-payment of green fees online might just join that list.



Videos

GOLFNOW Industry Headlines: June 2nd, 2020

Jun 02, 2020

HEADLINES FROM THIS PAST WEEK:

 

 


Los Angeles City golf partners with GOLFNOW

May 28, 2020

City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will Utilize GOLFNOW Technology and Services to Power its 12 Area Golf Facilities.

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 28, 2020) – GOLFNOW today announced a new partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, providing the city’s 12 area golf facilities with GOLFNOW’s industry leading technology and services, as well as access to the world’s largest tee-time marketplace. The partnership builds on an agreement the city established with EZLinks Golf, now a GOLFNOW company, which was signed in 2018.

Open since May 9 after the state of California began loosening restrictions for recreational activity, Los Angeles City Golf begins a new chapter with GOLFNOW and will continue to benefit from the industry’s leading EZLinks-branded technology, as well as inclusion within GOLFNOW’s online tee-time marketplace. GOLFNOW also will provide marketing support – including social media and email marketing- as well as website design and management, and call center assistance as part of the partnership.

“The City of Los Angeles operates a large and envious portfolio of golf properties that enjoy a loyal following,” said Laura Bauernfeind, Golf Manager. “The opportunity with GOLFNOW to showcase our tee times within the world’s largest, online marketplace, coupled with the major steps we’ve been able to take by utilizing EZLinks’ integrated technology platform, will be a big win-win for our golf course properties and golfers, alike.”

In the video above, Bauernfeind describes new opportunities for Los Angeles City Golf via the GOLFNOW platform.

GOLFNOW will power operations at the city’s seven, 18-hole courses; three, 9-hole courses and two, Par-3 courses.
 


GOLFNOW Industry Headlines: May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

HEADLINES FROM THIS PAST WEEK:

 

 



News

Fairfax County, VA., Park Authority partners with GOLFNOW as it reopens for golf

Jun 02, 2020

County Phases in its Eight Golf Courses with GOLFNOW Technology; Pre-Paid Tee Time Technology Included in Safety Protocols

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 27, 2020) – As golf courses reopen across the state of Virginia and adjust operations to safely welcome back golfers, the Fairfax County Park Authority has partnered with GOLFNOW to connect its portfolio of eight golf courses with the millions of golfers shopping for tee times within the industry’s leading online marketplace every day. The Park Authority also will utilize GOLFNOW technology and services to help reopen and manage its golf business.

As new members of the GOLFNOW distribution platform, Fairfax County golf courses now will benefit from the industry’s leading tee-time booking engine technology, as well as inclusion within the world’s largest distribution marketplace. GOLFNOW also will provide marketing support and call center assistance as part of the partnership. As the Park Authority continues to implement protocols to ensure the safety of its staff and customers, GOLFNOW technology has provided a “touchless” option for Park Authority customers, allowing them to book and pay in advance online.

“The re-openings have gone smoothly and we’re seeing a significant increase in tee-time utilization,” said Todd Johnson, manager, golf enterprises, Fairfax County Park Authority. “We’re seeing a lot of new faces from GOLFNOW, as well as people coming back to the game as a great recreational alternative during a time when there aren’t a lot of choices. From a safety standpoint, our customers and staff are appreciative of the GOLFNOW pre-paid option.”

 


GOLF Business Solutions now offering PGA TOUR LIVE tournament coverage to golf and country clubs throughout the U.S.

Feb 07, 2020

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2020) – Golf and country clubs throughout the U.S. now have access to PGA TOUR LIVE through a new partnership with GOLF Business Solutions, which will provide golf facilities with live, featured group coverage of every PGA TOUR event on the balance of the 2019-20 PGA TOUR schedule.

Golf clubs using DIRECTV as their television content provider can showcase PGA TOUR LIVE through a dedicated channel inside their clubhouse, restaurants, locker rooms and other areas within the golf course property. The service is available immediately, giving course patrons access to round-by-round, morning and lunchtime tournament action before national television network coverage begins.

PGA TOUR LIVE, which also is available to consumers as a streaming service through NBC Sports Gold, is the only service to offer live tournament action prior to national television coverage. PGA TOUR LIVE also became available to bars and restaurants for the first time in January through a partnership with Joe Hand Promotions.

Golf clubs can learn more about PGA TOUR LIVE or purchase the service for their facility by visiting Clubhouse Solutions website HERE. Members of GOLF Business Solutions’ ClubBuy group purchasing program receive a 15 percent discount on pricing.

About GOLF Business Solutions
GOLF Business Solutions is a complete spectrum of business-to-business services offered by the family of golf brands within the NBC Sports Group portfolio and managed by GOLF Channel. Building off the recognition and trust of the GOLF brand, the comprehensive offerings of GOLF Business Solutions are designed to meet virtually any need of businesses interested in investing in golf, helping them to become more efficient and effective. Included are services offered by GOLFNOW, GOLF Advisor, Revolution GOLF, GOLF Academy and GOLF Am Tour.


-NBC Sports Group-

Media Contact:
Dan Higgins
GOLF Communications
407-355-4018
Dan.Higgins@GOLFchannel.com


GOLFNOW'S G1 management technology now helping more than 600 golf courses improve efficiency and customer service

Feb 05, 2020

Milestones show rising demand of G1 cloud-based management platform

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2020) – Now transacting at more than 600 golf course facilities in North America, GOLF Business Solutions’ G1 technology continues to build on its reputation as the market’s most advanced all-in-one business management platform.

Approaching its second year in the marketplace, G1 has become GOLF Business Solutions’ most-installed, cloud-based business management platform. This milestone comes on the heels of a successful showing at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show, where GOLF Business Solutions representatives hosted more than 400 meetings with golf course operators and managers during which the G1 technology was discussed.

“The interest in G1 is at an all-time high,” said Jeff Foster, senior vice president, GOLFNOW. “We’re proud of the milestones being reached but, more importantly, the ways that G1 has helped our golf course partners enhance the golfer experience. The improved control and mobility that G1 offers not only is helping operators manage their facilities more efficiently, but it also has the tools that are helping them improve customer service.”

With G1, tee sheet, point-of-sale, social media, customer booking engines, inventory, marketing campaigns and other functions integral to efficient operations are managed by golf course staff, anytime and anywhere.

“As a large resort business, we appreciate the flexibility and mobility that G1 provides,” said Jimmy Bills, director of golf at Arizona Grand Golf Resort. “In addition to seamlessly integrating with all the components we use within the GOLFNOW platform, the features within G1 have helped us streamline the management of our operation and allow us to transact from anywhere on our property, which really has improved our guest experience.”

Improved data collection is a key characteristic of G1, which also provides tighter data integration and integrity across multiple tools. Also, G1 provides better insight into golfer booking and spending patterns, which helps operators better customize their marketing messages.

“Golf course operators have expressed these as some of the more important features of G1,” said Charles Kingsbaker, a senior sales specialist for GOLF Business Solutions. “For example, it’s critical to ensure a golfer’s contact information is consistent across every platform used by the golf course. Also, the ability to use your data to identify the spending characteristics of golfers within your population can help tremendously with future planning.”

“The innovative technology has been hugely beneficial,” said Joe Dahlstrom CEO of Paradigm Golf Group. “From the iPad tee sheet at the first tee that updates real time along with our ability to proactively manage pace of play, deliver food and drinks, along with the personalized data collection that allows us to track our customer buying patterns and preferences.”

Another important included benefit for golf course operators using G1 who previously used locally installed software, is eliminating the need to manage updates manually and worry about server issues. The cloud-based G1 technology installs regular updates, new features and other improvements automatically, with no time or action required from golf course staff. These management functions also can be used across multiple golf courses within the same portfolio, which is a great time saver and allows more staff focus on the guest experience.

About GOLFNOW
GOLFNOW is an innovative technology company that creates seamless ways for golfers and golf courses to better connect. GOLFNOW operates the largest online tee-time marketplace in the world, offering 3.5 million registered golfers a variety of ways to stay connected to their favorite courses and the ability to easily book tee times online and via mobile devices any time of day. GOLFPASS members receive special playing perks through GOLFNOW, including tee time credit and rewards, with GOLFPASS+ members benefiting from waived booking fees, cancellation protection and 25% more rewards points. GOLFNOW is an extension of the GOLF Business Solutions’ suite of digital businesses, owned by NBC Sports and managed by GOLF Channel. With offices in Orlando, Fla., and Belfast, Northern Ireland, GOLF Business Solutions also provides technology, support and marketing services to more than 9,000 golf courses in 24 countries around the world.

-NBC Sports Group-
Media contact:
Dan Higgins
GOLF Channel Communications
Dan.Higgins@golfchannel.com
407-355-4018



Downloadable Resources

Chapter 6 - Procurement

The Playbook - Chapter 6

Feb 20, 2019

Time to think outside the procurement box

Group purchasing brings new profit possibilities to golf operations. Courses can stock up on products they already buy, as well as others they need at a significant cost savings. With significant cost savings and ability to earn points toward tech, satisfied golf courses see enough savings to make a difference. 


chapter 1

The Playbook - Chapter 1

Jan 17, 2019

Who doesn’t want to book more rounds and generate more revenue?

And while you’re at it, let’s solidify your position in your marketplace and start operating at peak efficiency. Private club, daily fee, municipal or resort course — all have the same goals in these competitive times. Finally, there’s one go-to source to help golf operations learn and activate best-practices throughout their operations.


The Playbook - Chapter 2

The Playbook - Chapter 2

Jan 17, 2019

Best practices for having the right product at the right time for the right price.

What started with the airline and hotel industries is spreading to restaurants, theaters … and golf courses. Dynamic pricing is the inventory strategy courses are using right now to maximize revenue.