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Problem: Your course has an outdated business management system that’s kept you from streamlining the golfer experience and running your operation with utmost ease and efficiency.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