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The Latest from The Index

Beat the heat

Discover new ways to fill your tee sheet this summer

Jul 10, 2019

Courses find solutions to beat the heat

Bishop Pickering was having the round of his life, so he chose to ignore the onslaught of a violent thunderstorm and kept playing. At this point, you may know this famous scene from the movie Caddyshack doesn't end well for the good bishop, but it does make us wonder. How can one's love for the game can be deep enough to play in any conditions – even when the mercury is hitting record highs?

For some, love may not come without an incentive. That's especially true for many courses in America's Sun Belt during the dog days of summer. Oppressive heat can keep golfers at bay, creating challenges for operators working to attract new golfers. They're hoping at minimum to keep their regular customers on the tee.
 

Taking on the challenge

Several GOLF Business Solutions' course partners are taking this challenge head-on this summer. Deep down, golfers just want to play golf, but sometimes it takes a little something extra. Realizing this, these partner courses have introduced promotions and initiatives to combat the heat and keep their customers on their fairways.

Desert courses beat the heat with new promotions. "Heat is a way of life in Arizona," says Tony Barten, General Manager of the acclaimed Legacy Golf Club in Phoenix, "and we prepare for the hotter summer months with a variety of things that help our golfers notice it less."

Handing out mango-scented iced towels and ensuring water stations located around the course are always chock full of ice and water are a few of the special touches Barten says they incorporate at the Legacy Golf Club.

"Legacy attracts golfers with aggressive pricing," says Barten, who notes that a golfer might pay a little less during the hotter parts of the day. Prices are tiered based on demand, and there may be three to four rate breaks throughout the day.

Nearby, at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, the management team loves its regulars, but the course also attracts a lot of guests from the on-site resort.

As the weather started heating up in May, the golf course and resort collaborated to introduce a "Burger & Brew" promotion, which combines a round of golf and a hearty meal for a price 'that's nearly half-off retail. The course has incorporated paid social media to support the promotion.

"Our guests love a great round of golf paired with a quality burger and beer - especially in air-conditioned comfort," said Director of Golf Jimmy Bills. "The resort restaurant loves the increased traffic during what normally are the slower summer months."
 

Florida takes on the humidity

Across the continent in Florida, where heat combines with humidity, Raptor Bay Golf Club in Bonita Springs uses added value to attract golfers in the summer when the temperatures regularly peak into the 90s. It's not out of the norm for golfers to receive a $5 lunch voucher, drink coupons and even free logoed hats with their regular daily green fee.
 

Texas 'kicks the dust-up'

Texas can heat up quite nicely in the summer, which brings us to several courses in the Dallas area that have preparations in place when temperatures rise.

The Bridges Golf Club in Gunter created an "It's Heating Up" promotion by offering golfers 20% off throughout June. The promotion has generated more than $1,000 and 70 rounds of incremental business so far. Wildhorse Golf Club at Robson Ranch in Denton says it's giving customers the "Shirts Off Our Back" to beat the heat, a deal that includes a logoed shirt and a discounted green fee that has netted the course more than $10,000.
 

Grab-and-go special heats up in California Sun

In the California desert, Indian Canyons Golf Resort has been a popular choice for golf in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley since 1961, when the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and Ronald Reagan used to walk its fairways. Summer is the time when customers are offered the 'course's "Grab ‘N Go" special, which includes 18 holes of golf with cart, a choice of a breakfast sandwich or hot dog, and a small bucket of range balls. Through only 19 days in June, the incremental business was highlighted by 63 rounds sold, which equated to nearly $4,000 in sales.

When summer's high temperatures cause golfers to reconsider booking that next round, promotions like these can offer excellent incentives to brave the heat.

To learn more on how you can promote your course, CLICK HERE.


Stillwaters Golf Course

Alabama course experiences great success on the Platform

Jul 10, 2019

It's a natural assumption that golf courses in or near big cities should attract new customers by adopting strategies that increase awareness. This way, they can take advantage of a denser geographic area.

However, the real question is - can something comparable happen in rural or urban regions? Yes, it can. Perhaps it's because of a willingness by residents of those regions to travel farther for golf on highways that aren't jammed and offer lush scenery. Regardless, increased exposure to golfers online has brought new players to Stillwaters Golf in Dadeville, Alabama - a new GOLF Business Solutions course partner on the Platform.

"New eyes are seeing us on their screens and new people coming in the door," says Witherington. "It has to be because of the Platform because we haven't changed anything else. Within a couple weeks after we got on the Platform, I realized that we had already booked more than 50 rounds that I know we wouldn't have had otherwise."

The Tradition Course at Stillwaters Golf is part of a resurgent golf and lake community with zoning for 1,200 residences in the area. When it opened in 1996, it featured 36 holes of golf. However, Stillwaters' business plan went through changes, and one of the two championship courses eventually shut down. Located in a triangle formed by the three cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Columbus, Stillwaters is indeed a long drive for golfers who reside in any of those population centers.

“You have to make the trip to find us,” says Witherington. “So, once you’re here it’s on us to make the experience special enough that you’ll come back and you will also tell you friends about us.” Withering says he must adapt to limited funds for marketing and advertising. “My customers have to be a big part of my marketing,” he says, referring to word-of-mouth recommendations, “but I do need more exposure and reach, which we now have.”

Witherington is a natural who "can talk them into staying for lunch, even staying for live music that night," once he gets them on-property. His course's reliance on word-of-mouth has given him a nuanced understanding of it. "One of the reasons people go to new places and try new things is because they're motivated to tell their friends what a great choice they made," he asserts. "It's one of their pleasures in life, along with the actual experience. So, when we treat them right, we're giving them an opportunity they want which is to sound smart – and in the process they make us look good."

In Witherington's first full year in 2016, rounds played at the course increased from 8,000 to 12,800. Memberships rose from 72 to 287. "We made golf a profit center here," he says. "We want to build on that." He had a previous, albeit brief, experience with GOLFNOW many years ago.

"It was a long enough time ago that I was getting all my bookings off a fax machine," he says. "It was cumbersome, but I was sure that in the meantime the system had been modernized." While that is undoubtedly true, the Platform at Stillwater isn't like the Platform at a lot of other places, thanks to the paper tee sheet still in use at the course.

Witherington and his GOLF Business Solutions' account representative Scott Huskins, worked together to create a more customized approach for Stillwaters.

"Scott set it the tee sheet so that I get an email beep with every reservation that comes through GOLFNOW and into our Platform. He even helped me program my phone, so everything could come through me."

Stillwaters story inspires us to note that whether you're in the city, the country or someplace in between, you still need a way to get people's attention and keep them coming back.

To learn more about how the GOLF Business Solutions Platform can help you attract more golfers, CLICK HERE.


Payments Launch

GOLF Business Solutions announces launch of 'Payments' functionality

Jul 10, 2019

Avoid hidden fees and overcharges for card processing

A great golf course manager knows the customer experience isn't over until the customer drives off. He or she also is savvy enough to realize all the marketing touchpoints that can make an average experience great – including when it's time to pay.

Every operator wants to make things easy for their golfers – booking rounds online, checking in, buying a sleeve of balls, grabbing a snack from the beverage cart, and, hopefully, enjoying post-round food-and-beverage. Golf course management software with fully integrated functionality helps achieve a seamless experience.

Golf Business Solutions' new Payments feature will achieve both the operator and manager goals by making operations run like a well-oiled machine. Payments is a part of a turn-key 21st-century course by allowing the operator to review transactions, check inventories, keep an eye on cash flow, run credit card transactions, and more.

"Payments by GOLF Business Solutions allows you to seamlessly integrate online, phone and in-person payments with your point-of-sale system," explains Charles Kingsbaker, Senior Sales Specialist for GOLF Business Solutions. "With that full integration, the processing of payments requires just one vendor, accepting every payment any customer makes, no matter when or where."

Charles' colleague, Kelvin Wierks, has been part of the team working to build, test, and refine the functionality of Payments. Regulatory compliance, security issues, and the ability to interface with the vast banking and payments ecosystem have dictated a steady pace.

"The payments space is convoluted and complex," says Wierks, Vice President of Business Platforms for GOLF Business Solutions. "Golf courses have been hit with higher costs for payment processing than they rightly should, and the reports they see are too complicated to make sense of. Our mission has been to simplify the contractual process, simplify rates dramatically, and offer the seamlessness of working with a single vendor."

Payments start with transparent and easily understood rates, plus a guarantee of no hidden fees. You can see exactly what you're paying on every transaction, and those transactions can happen via tablet, desktop, online, or in-person. Full integration with GOLF Business Solutions means that wherever and whenever a payment happens, funds will be auto-deposited to your account. All Payments transactions are PCI-compliant (Payment Card Industry), with end-to-end encryption for security.

Early adopters of the technology have been quick to appreciate having all revenue inflows come from one source on a set daily schedule. "You don't have to try and remember when (mobile-device payments middleman) Square is going to pay you," says Wierks. He notes that the GOLF Business Solutions-provided hardware a course receives when it switches to Payments is another facet of the program that gets high marks. "We provide a wireless pin pad and an EMV-compliant terminal," says Wierks. "No more swiping cards – everything has the security of a chip."

Advanced economies have been favoring digital systems over cash and check-writing for a long time, in the name of security, ease, and data analysis.

"Businesses of all kinds, including golf courses, are moving to a 'pay-anywhere' approach," says Kingsbaker, "which makes the relationship with your payments processor all the more important to the entire operation. Going forward, the advantages a course gains from adopting Payments will only increase, because of new products and services that are in the works. Golfers will notice more and more perks, along with the sheer ease of the experience."

Their favorite course is already the place where golfers are most interested in spending their money—adding. Payments technology is a way to simply enhance that preference.

To learn more about payments, CLICK HERE.