Knowledge Library

using G1 technology

Successful operators use business metrics to play detective and find the clues to profitability

Mar 07, 2019

Minor adjustments and fine tuning make the difference

To succeed in golf course operations, it helps to recognize that, in most cases, it’s a thin-margin enterprise. What you charge for a round of golf isn’t much more than what you’ve spent to make it available. If that sounds discouraging, it really just puts you on equal footing with the likes of Kroger, Costco or United Airlines—all low-markup vendors and all highly successful.

“What tends to work in a thin-margin business is attention to detail and motivating your team to rack up a lot of small successes,” says Charles Kingsbaker, a GOLF Business Solutions Senior Sales Specialist. “The good news is that revenue-management technology can provide the empirical data that will guide your detective work efficiently. Numbers that are easy to access and review will show an operator how to consistently squeeze additional revenue out of their course’s tee-time inventory.”

Representing the G1 technology platform in the field every day, Kingsbaker can demonstrate exactly how this game of small-ball works. The most natural starting point is creating baseline data for performance indicators like revenue per available tee time (RevPATT), a metric combining course capacity with actual dollars spent by golfers to play rounds. A course can apply the stat to a full season of play, to a single day of the week, or even to one four-hour block on the sheet that needs extra attention.

Capacity utilization is another metric that’s vital for smart decision-making and will alert you to the need to adjust. Putting the two together is part of basic analytics among effective managers. “If your tee time utilization is below 35 percent and your RevPAAT yield is only 55 or 60 percent of your highest-yielding round, that’s a scenario where the numbers are telling you some modifications of your pricing is in order,” says Kingsbaker.

Every course has tee times that go unused—the trick is to avoid “set and forget” pricing and be continually conducting tests and evaluating results. Kingsbaker worked with a GOLFNOW client course that identified a low-utilization period and “turned the dial down” on pricing for that part of the tee sheet. The result was higher utilization and a revenue boost of more than $5,000 for that particular block of times, versus the same period a year prior.

Every course counts rounds played, but there’s growing importance placed on the number of unique golfers making up that total. For example, the course that did 30,000 rounds in 2018 will help its cause greatly if it knows, for example, that 5,000 different golfers played an average of six rounds each. Loyalty is great, but a wide user base is a big advantage when you’ve got a marketing platform like the Plus service product offered by GOLF Business Solutions, which can connect with golfers readily via outbound communication and calls to action.

In a "destination" market, the number of unique golfers should be higher than in a very localized market. When that doesn’t happen, it’s a sign the course is missing out on visits from customers who would bring fresh energy to the operation and very likely spend as though they were treating themselves to a special day. “Growing your total of uniques isn’t something we know all about yet, but we do know it’s a negative when that data point trends downward,” says Kingsbaker.

Meanwhile, low markup is not the whole story for golf courses. You also sell high-profit items like beer, wine, hot dogs and golf shirts. Selling more of your tee time inventory (and building your population of unique users) positions your operation to move more high-margin products. “That’s a positive scenario that will show up in your spend-per-visit numbers,” says Kingsbaker. Again, the incremental gain for each unit—in this case a “visit”—doesn’t have to be much in order to add up to a significant boost in revenue. Small successes, all added together, will often spell the difference between disappointing results and impressive ones.

Deliver more at your course with G1. 


golf course operator checking reports

How to leverage your GOLFNOW Central reports and optimize for growth

Mar 07, 2019

Required reading with your morning coffee


Every hospital show on TV has its vital-signs moment. Someone pushes a gurney yelling BP is 180 over 40, pulse is 100 and white-blood-cell count is whatever. It’s a cliche scene but, nonetheless, important because it demonstrates the necessity to look at critical numbers to reveal a patient’s condition.

When golf course operators sign on with GOLF Business Solutions, they don’t start wearing scrubs. But they do gain access to critical performance reports designed to inform them how well or not-so-well their business is doing. Ryan Peers, a GOLF Business Solutions Metro Market Sales Manager, helps course operators become adept at pulling and examining these reports, so they can reset their strategy for optimizing revenue and profit performance.

“Eventually it becomes routine for a course manager—something they do with their morning coffee,” says Peers. “Any course that uses GOLFNOW for tee time distribution has access to a number of fundamental reports they can look at whenever they want, just by logging into GOLFNOW Central. The main report everyone wants to see is Rounds & Revenue – Course YOY, which also gives an average dollar cost per round for the selected period.”

Also in that group, “Core Platform” reports show year-over-year revenue performance for a selected period – most operators prefer a monthly look. “At a glance, you see that February 2018 gave you 2,000 rounds and $90,000 in golf revenue, while February 2019 gave you 10 percent less or 10 percent more,” explains Peers. “You’ll want to know this information as a historical trend that can inform decisions about tee-sheet management.”

Training and support are provided for the operator who is just starting out as a GOLFNOW report reader. “We make sure the operator can go through the reports knowledgeably – just a couple of clicks and very intuitive,” Peers says.

The portfolio of GOLFNOW performance-indicator reports goes far beyond the basic five that any affiliated operator can self-service. To obtain more granular reports, an operator would need to make a request with his representative.

The whole point of all this, in Peers’ view, is simple – “to help a course sell more golf.” Getting the staff bought in and responsive to the reports is also a clear goal. Once opened, they can be saved as either an Excel file or a PDF and forwarded to colleagues, ownership or anyone with a need-to-know status.

Obviously, a decision-maker in any business will be interested in data only as it guides their next move. “In the push to maximize tee-sheet revenue, you test out pricing adjustments then evaluate your results,” says Peers.

Recently, Peers was contacted by one of the operators with whom he works about revenue performance year-to-date and expressed some displeasure. Rounds played at his course for a particular period were down significantly. Revenue for that period was also down, though only slightly.

What happened? In this case, it was the rare case of a robust price increase. “He was irritated by the slight drop in revenue, but this operator had really pushed the envelope with his pricing,” Peers says. “But the real story was he discovered a lot of pricing power—going up something like $15 on average with very little revenue loss.” There is a risk even with small price increases, but this one delivered a lot of information about consumer demand and the price ceiling. The next logical step would be to ease off slightly and see whether a sweet spot had been discovered.

As a golf course operator in this current business climate, your customers can be somewhat less predictable than you might imagine. Don't underestimate the value of a set of tech tools that allow you to price-adjust with precision and ease. Soon, you will be optimizing revenue and profits reliably.

Learn how GOLFNOW Central can deliver for your facility. 


The First Tee Chesterfield Golf Course pro shop

With strong support, a major upgrade to business software can happen in-season

Feb 20, 2019

Training and transition works, when your course is active

Problem: Your course has an outdated business management system that’s kept you from streamlining the golfer experience and running your operation with utmost ease and efficiency.

Solution: You fast-forward to a cloud-based, “consumer-centric” platform like G1 from GOLF Business Solutions, which combines all software and operating systems into one package. With G1, that means the tee sheet, point-of-sale, social media, work schedules, inventory, payroll, vendor relations—all of it controllable with an Internet-connected smartphone or tablet, from anywhere. That is a robust upgrade over what’s found at most courses, to be sure.

More than 500 golf courses either have already installed G1 or have committed to integrating the technology into their operations. It’s a sequential process that requires training and teamwork, which you may think prompts many operators and their staffs to lean toward a switchover in the quiet of the off-season. But lately, quite a few have seen the advantage of changing out technology during the active golf season.

That realization is based on several factors. The first would be the experience and expertise of the GOLFNOW team that installs, trains, supports and troubleshoots G1 on-boarding—they’ve reached the point where it’s down to a science and the team can anticipate needs and issues before they arise.

Second, is the simple fact that any business training works best when staff members are using the new commands and functions in real-time, with customers in front of them and a support crew alongside. Third, is the importance of having year-round golf staff and seasonal staff on the job together, reminding one another of the operational procedures necessary for every circumstance.

“Transactions, record-keeping and planning procedures driven by software and systems will hit their stride when things become second-nature to the employee,” says Charles Kingsbaker, Senior Technology Specialist with GOLF Business Solutions. “That calls for a lot of repetitions and it requires a staff member to go through the full array of business functions. If you try to do this in a quiet, off-season period, you won’t have those opportunities. As a result, you’ll probably find that re-training becomes necessary.”

Kingsbaker ticks off a long list of business details to illustrate his point. “In one short period at the counter, a staff member may have to sell a season pass, sell a range plan, bill tournament charges to a master account, split tickets at a grill room table,” he says. “When no golfers are around and you’re told how to do that, you’ll remember some of it but you can’t make it automatic until you’re taking care of these things in real-time, repeatedly.”

Golf operators who’ve tried the in-season approach to on-boarding G1 say it works extremely well. Mark Lynch, Director of Golf at The First Tee of Greater Richmond (Va.), with a pair of local facilities, speaks to that possibility. Lynch is responsible for the Tattersall Youth Development Center at The First Tee Chesterfield Golf Course, outside the city proper, and for the Elson Redmond Memorial Driving Range, which is downtown. Having achieved the rank of Major in the Army Reserve, Lynch has a solid foundation and belief that detailed plans are required to make any mission successful.

“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I wasn’t anxious during those few days leading up to our conversion to G1,” says Lynch. “All of my training told me we needed to be prepared and get it right. As it turned out, the launch of G1 as our new management platform could not have gone better.”

As Lynch recounts the story, he stresses the value and contribution of the G1 support staff. “The install on day one and day two got us up to a functional level right away,” he recalls. “The GOLFNOW installers were there on-site the entire week, and in that time my assistants were able to understand how everything worked and they were using the program with confidence—whether that was check-in for golf, inventory sales, updating memberships, or whatever our golfers needed.”

Installing and training G1 during off-season closure is an option, but Lynch is convinced that on-the-fly accustomation is an excellent way to go. “We were able to make modifications to the system based on our specific needs during operations, knowing when the implementation team left we wouldn’t need to call support,” he says. “As we continue to grow the use of the system, we are able to work with GOLFNOW to add components to development to further bolster its functionality and future updates.”

Kingsbaker adds a nuance to this whole timing question. “There’s more than one strategy to the timing of installation,” he says. “An experienced operator knows where on the calendar they can fit in their training and go live, with just the right level of business activity to balance what they need for their golfers and what they want to do with their platform in order to make their move into the next generation of golf operations—which is what G1 is all about.”


Stone Creek Golf Club, Oregon City, Ore.

All upside as Oregon course adopts dynamic pricing

Feb 20, 2019

Online bookings increase, and golfers have no complaints

Back in the day, customary thinking was that the best golf spikes were metal. Even with the advent of plastic spikes, many golfers vowed to stick with steel until realizing the equal, if not better, gripping power of soft spikes – not to mention the fringe benefit of ending the destruction of pro shop carpets and hardwood floors! In short order, the market flipped to all-plastic (and flooring costs at clubs and courses went down for good).

Which brings us to dynamic pricing and the success story written last year by Stone Creek Golf Club, a Clackamas County-owned gem in the Portland suburb of Oregon City, which is managed by Total Golf Management Services.

The facility’s long-time head professional, Doug Suse, reports that Stone Creek had an extremely positive experience using this tool. Bearing in mind how change can be hard, Suse had braced himself for protests from his golfers. “There was no pushback from customers at all,” he says. “I was surprised. We prepared ourselves for negative comments, and literally there were none.”

The change also helped boost business. Stone Creek’s online revenue for tee times in 2018 increased 30 percent over the previous year – an all-time best. The problem of unsold times going to waste also seemed to ease. Suse saw more new faces than usual and didn’t notice any of his regulars dropping away or playing less.

It’s often said that hotel and airline reservation systems have trained the golfing population to view dynamically priced tee times as natural and logical. Makes sense, and yet the golf course is a place of beauty and site of countless fun experiences with friends – something that Seat 22A on a Delta flight or a room in some chain motel can’t boast. And yet to Suse, the moment of wide acceptance appears to have arrived.

“It’s a better way of pricing, for both sides,” he states. “If demand at a certain time on a certain day is light, the golfer pays less, and they realize that. When demand is strong, they pay a little more, and they’re okay with it. People want to book their golf quickly and they want to do it with their phone.”

The telephone as we used to define it is not part of Stone Creek’s new policy. If you call their shop to book a time, you’ll speak with a staff member and be quoted rack prices. Key point: Entering the world of dynamic pricing is something a golf course can do in stages. For Stone Creek, the likely next step is to go dynamic with phone bookings, as well.

“The dynamic price matrix as you view it online can be quickly scanned,” explains Suse. “Over the phone it might be a lot to explain—that’s what held us back. But we’ve discussed it and obviously there are ways you can direct the conversation and guide the customer along.”

Transitioning to this approach was fairly simple, according to Suse. He sat down with his GOLFNOW rep to go through the basics and hear a set of recommendations appropriate for the course and its market. “He came up with some parameters,” says Suse, referring to how far up or down the software would allow prices to move, “and we settled on the caps we would use.”

Currently the entire calendar year is organized under one matrix, but Suse and GOLFNOW are looking at seasonal variations to their pricing parameters. “The goal is to reduce the amount of unsold inventory and make life easy for customers,” he says. “We’re having success on both those fronts and we think we can use dynamic pricing to achieve even greater success in the future.”


Rory McIlroy and NBC Sports Group launch GOLFPASS

Rory McIlroy and NBC Sports Group launch GOLFPASS

Feb 07, 2019

Modern, Digital Membership Designed to Better Connect Golfers to the Sport

A new digital membership delivering comprehensive benefits tailored to the modern golfer’s lifestyle was launched earlier this week with the help of global golf superstar Rory McIlroy. GOLFPASS, a first-of-its-kind, direct-to-consumer subscription program, offers opportunities to play more golf, comprehensive tools to improve any golfer’s game; high-quality video content; and enhanced shopping and travel experiences. GOLFPASS is the product of two years of development and collaboration between Rory McIlroy Inc. and NBC Sports Group.

Through guest appearances on several shows during a whirlwind media tour of New York City, including  The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, McIlroy introduced GOLFPASS to a national television audience, giving golfers their first introduction to GOLFPASS.

“Golf has been a constant in my life, a passion I share with millions of others. Creating GOLFPASS with NBC Sports was driven by my desire to enrich the golf experience for fans all around the world,” said McIlroy. “Arnold Palmer showed tremendous vision when founding GOLF Channel in 1995 and it now stands as a significant part of his legacy. I have the utmost respect for the impact he made on the game and I will carry that spirit forward by helping to lead our sport into its digital future with GOLFPASS.”

“GOLFPASS is designed to make golf more accessible and fun using NBC Sports’ portfolio of golf tech and services that help better connect golfers to the sport. Whether it’s video instruction from the best coaches in the world or enhancing the golf experience on and off the course, GOLFPASS adds tremendous value for golfers,” said Mike McCarley, president, GOLF, NBC Sports. “Rory is the perfect partner for GOLFPASS, not only because he’s an approachable, genuine and global ambassador for golf – much in the same way Mr. Palmer was – he’s also eager to modernize how golfers engage with the sport in their daily lives, whether watching a screen or with a club in their hand.”

GOLFPASS perks and benefits span five pillars – Play, Learn, Watch, Travel and Shop – which are the most frequent ways golfers engage with the sport. A GOLFPASS membership – $9.99 per month or $99 per year – is unmatched and available today via www.golfpass.com and soon via connected TV, and iOS and Android apps. Memberships tailored for the U.K., Ireland and Australia will launch in the coming months.


Sustain and grow your course

Tips for a profitable 2019

Feb 07, 2019

A new year brings unique challenges to golf courses across the United States. To ensure that your course thrives this year, it’s important to evaluate the state of your business - both today and for tomorrow.

Sustain your course by:

  • Knowing your golfers - It's essential to understand who your golfers are - from their age to their tee time preference and favorite drink order. The best ideas to grow rounds come from having a more complete grasp of the needs and desires of your golfers.

  • Maintain a fully utilized tee sheet - Ensuring a full tee sheet is essential to maximizing revenue, but the importance of accuracy cannot be overstated. A loyal golfer can turn sour after one tee time mistake.

Grow your course by:

  • Creating efficiency and removing redundancies, where possible - A seamless, friction-free experience stands out. Allow golfers to focus their limited time on golf - not waiting in lines to meet your courses’ checks and balances.

  • Focusing on the golfer experience - Allow your staff to focus on the human experience by removing the burden of administrative tasks. Concentrate on delivering the best experience for the golfer and keep them coming back.

  • Expanding your reach for new golfers - Technology can be a solution to grow the number of players at your property,

 

Feeling challenged by your 2019 to-do’s?

Technology can be your partner in sustaining and growing your business. G1 brings together innovation, time savings and business-building solutions to grow golf for tomorrow. We make it easy to know your golfer, manage your tee sheet, create efficiency and deliver on the golfer experience.

Learn more about G1 for your course.


PGA Merchandise Show—solutions for business

PGA Merchandise Show—solutions for business

Jan 24, 2019

Orlando's biggest golf week is in full swing


Every year, golf’s big confab in Orlando not only shows off the “merchandise,” but also is becoming the place to learn about the industry’s many services. Stop by booth # 2173 to explore the GOLF Business Solutions exhibit space, and you’ll see that service story expertly told.

If you don’t quite recognize the GOLF Business Solutions name, it’s a new umbrella brand for a family of business services within the NBC Sports group golf portfolio. You can read all about it here.

But if you’re in town for the PGA Merchandise Show, do take a stroll around our space and say hello to one of the dozens of GOLF Business Solutions staff members who are there to help. All along the installation you’ll see GOLFNOW, GOLF Academy, GOLF Am Tour, GOLF Advisor and Revolution GOLF—those are the individual operations folded into the new GBS structure.

You’ll also see a signage dedicated to you, and your niche in the industry—Golf Facilities, Suppliers, Instructors, Golf Outings firms, Hospitality and Tourism companies. The need and desire to operate more efficiently and take advantage of every opportunity cutting across all those sectors of the golf industry. They’re all served and supported by the people you’ll find in booth # 2173. Even if you think you’ve seen all we have to offer your business, you’ll be surprised at what is new and possible in 2019.


New Partnerships with Topgolf and Full Swing Simulators open revenue possibilities for courses

New Partnerships with Topgolf and Full Swing Simulators open revenue possibilities for courses

Jan 24, 2019

Two new partnerships forged by NBC Sports Group’s golf division with Topgolf and Full Swing Simulators are poised to bring golfer-pleasing and profit-building technology to clubhouses and practice ranges across the U.S. and around the world.

As part of a broad partnership with Topgolf – which also includes naming Toptracer the exclusive shot-tracking technology for NBC Sports’ PGA TOUR Telecasts – GOLFNOW will promote Toptracer Range, a fast-growing tech product engineered by Topgolf, which is helping modernize the golfer experience at local golf facilities.

“Topgolf has long been committed to bettering the industry through technology, whether by enhancing the guest experience at our venues, improving PGA TOUR broadcasts through innovations like Toptracer, or helping driving range operators transform their facilities into entertainment destinations with Toptracer Range,” said Ben Sharpe, president of Toptracer.

Toptracer technology tracks the flight of a golf ball within a camera feed, as well as provides real-time 3D ball flight data analytics such as ball speed, apex, curve and carry that is integrated into virtual graphics.

“This partnership allows Topgolf and NBC Sports to combine our strengths to modernize how fans engage with golf,” said Mike McCarley, president of GOLF, NBC Sports. “We’re thrilled at how it will make for high-quality PGA TOUR coverage, but we’re equally excited to showcase technology like Toptracer Range for golf courses, and help evolve the golf experience for the future.”

GOLFNOW and Topgolf’s sales teams will collaborate to introduce Toptracer Range to golf facilities worldwide, providing them with the opportunity to use the same ball-tracking technology that traces the shots of the game’s best players on television. Toptracer Range helps traditional facilities attract both avid and novice players by transforming driving ranges into practice and entertainment destinations. It combines tech and fun to create a superior experience that is perfect for all skill levels, allowing friends and family to compete in a variety of games or play virtual golf on simulated courses.

This initiative complements the recent integration of Topgolf into GOLFNOW’s website and mobile application, which currently allows more than 3.5 million registered users to book reservations at select Topgolf venues through its world’s largest online tee-time platform.

Full Swing Simuators’ technology, endorsed by Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and other tour stars, also will be promoted by GOLFNOW’s sales force to its golf course partners as a complementary option to the traditional round of golf. Through its tee-time marketplace – the largest in the world – GOLFNOW will integrate the sites of Full Swing installations into its website and mobile reservation applications. This will enable a seamless booking experience for golfers interested in visiting golf facilities enabled with Full Swing Simulators technology.

“Today’s player continues to look for different ways to enjoy the game when they can’t be outside on the golf course, and we are eager to introduce Full Swing technology to our forward-thinking golf course partners as a revenue-generating option,” said Will McIntosh, executive vice president, Strategy, GOLF.

Full Swing also will become the Official Simulator Partner of GOLF, including GOLF Channel productions, Revolution GOLF and GOLFNOW. A Full Swing simulator is being used this week inside the GOLF booth at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show.


Instructor Plus offers the teaching professional expert consultation, proprietary management tools

Instructor Plus offers the teaching professional expert consultation, proprietary management tools

Jan 24, 2019

What's good for instructors is good for the golf course, too


The past decade has brought waves of sophisticated technology to help dedicated golf instructors diagnose swing flaws, communicate with students, design drills with biofeedback and generally bring a scientific process to the lesson tee. What instructors haven’t been offered—until now—is support to address the business challenges and missed opportunities that have long frustrated them.

The remedy to all that is Instructor Plus, a comprehensive and customizable technology platform and service for golf instructors. Inspired by GOLFNOW’s Plus management and marketing service —currently being used by more than 1,300 golf courses nationwide—the new Instructor Plus combines expert consultation and proprietary management tools. It’s all designed to help instructors improve and sustain their businesses in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“We know that facilities that have high-quality teachers see more play and more spending from the golfers who engage with their instruction programs,” Anderson said. “Instructor Plus creates continual opportunities to grow this engagement through professionally managed marketing while freeing up the instructor to spend more time on the lesson tee, where he or she is most valuable.”

There’s been enthusiastic initial response to Instructor Plus, which is one of many business-to-business platforms within the new GOLF Business Solutions portfolio. Golf coaches and teachers are welcoming the package, made up of a dedicated marketing agent with a unique suite of technologies. This is the first-ever opportunity for teaching professionals to access the expertise and tools they need to customize and boost their marketing, sales, social media and back-office functions. An obvious bonus benefit is having time freed up to concentrate more fully on their students.

The technology behind Instructor Plus is designed to benefit any instructional operation, from sole proprietors to multi-instructor, stand-alone facilities. Instructors can choose between a full-service option or a do-it-yourself Toolkit, which provides the instructor with a customized, mobile-friendly website, robust instruction-scheduling software, an email marketing tool and a coach-student communications app.

The new platform will be available for demonstration at the GOLF Business Solutions booth at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show. The booth (#2173) will be hosted by all golf businesses within the NBC Sports Group portfolio and managed by GOLF Channel.
 


GOLF Business Solutions debuts—tech, marketing and more

GOLF Business Solutions debuts—tech, marketing and more

Jan 24, 2019

An idea whose time clearly had come GOLF Business Solutions was unveiled recently and makes its official debut at this week’s PGA Merchandise Show. Driving its development was a simple rationale: The services offered to businesses by a collection of brands within NBC Sports Group’s golf portfolio had grown so diverse and extensive that a new framework was needed to present and deliver them most effectively.

Comprehensive, sophisticated and already well-accepted in the marketplace, the units that make up GOLF Business Solutions are now more readily accessible and better positioned to drive success for any business seeking to connect with the sport of golf.

GOLFNOW, GOLF Advisor, Revolution GOLF, GOLF Academy and GOLF Am Tour will now pursue their respective missions under a streamlined and synergistic structure.

These best-in-class providers will cover the spectrum, serving virtually any need within golf, including technology and operations, brand management, advertising, sponsorships, event planning and management, content development, and more.

It’s a decisive upgrade for partner companies, which include golf facilities, golf instructors, marketers of golf products, golf event planners, golf hospitality and tourism companies, as well as any business seeking TV and digital exposure through partnerships, advertising, sponsorships, content integration.

One of the primary points of connection for customers of GOLF Business Solutions will be a new website, www.GOLFBusinessSolutions.com. Easily navigated, it will feature information on a broad spectrum of services relevant to various customer categories.

The new website’s many features also will include The Index, with its compelling and timely business-to-business editorial content. This tailored content for golf industry professionals will include informational tips, best practices, online learning series, white papers, podcasts and video, including roundtable discussions featuring leaders from all segments of the industry.