Knowledge Library

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.

 


Ideas to remember when you’re hiring

Ideas to remember when you’re hiring

Jan 16, 2019

Challenges navigating the “talent pool”

Golf course managers take care of the employees and the employees take care of the customers. That’s a time-honored belief that shows how vital it is to find the right people and keep the very good ones from moving on prematurely.

At a rapid-fire pace, we’ll look at a few strategies worth considering when a spot or two or three needs filling.

  • “Hire for X, train for Y,” is a useful concept for any staffing-up scenario. Not every candidate’s experience will match exactly with your needs, but a good work ethic and an eagerness to learn through on-the-job training can go a long way.
  • Be creative. Consider if you could hire two, part-time employees instead of one full-time employee and split the coverage. If the job doesn’t require knowledge of the game, expand your candidate pool by looking at talent that has experience in customer service.
  • Ask open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response to get the most out of an interview.
  • Entice candidates by sharing any growth and development opportunities. Is there a path to management or could they help with event planning or social marketing campaigns?
  • Be willing to listen to ideas from everyone in the workplace, especially your front-line workers. You never know the next source of a great idea. The renowned writings of Alan Robinson and Dean Schroeder (check out “The Idea-Driven Organization”) show hundreds of examples of how valuable these sets of fresh eyes can be.
  • And if you’re hiring a golf instructor to teach and promote the game, there’s new thinking on that. According to early research, golfers who get involved with lessons, clinics, club fitting and other game-improvement activity spend more money at the facility. Find a teacher who has tracked his or her spend-per-student (on golf, food, merchandise, etc.) and also kept count of beginner students they turned into golfers. Create incentives to encourage them to work that same magic at your place.


GOLFNOW gives you a ‘Platform’

GOLFNOW gives you a ‘Platform’

Jan 16, 2019

All the technology available to golf course operators these days can be a little overwhelming to consider. The golf industry is full of software “solutions” that too often don’t solve the real issues course operators face each day. Transitioning to a new software system can be difficult enough, and at the most basic level that still doesn’t address one of the key challenges of running a golf course – putting golfers on the tee.

More golf course operations embraced GOLF Business Solutions' cloud-based G1 management platform in 2018 than any other technology in the industry. But if your New Year’s resolution-thinking in 2019 about how best to join the technological revolution is more in terms of baby steps – or if your current solution isn’t doing the trick – remember this:  success starts with the fundamentals. Recognizing that, GOLFNOW packages critical items together in our initial level of service we call the GOLF Business Solution Platform. Every new Platform partner receives these benefits no matter what.

The GOLF Business Solution Platform goes beyond simply connecting your tee times to millions of golfers through GOLFNOW.com and the GOLFNOW app; it includes the important tools you need to grow your business:

  • Tee-time marketplaces that connect millions of golfers with the most comprehensive tee-time inventory anywhere
  • White-label booking engine that allows you to capture revenue from multiple channels and meet golfers wherever they browse
  • Marketing suite gives you the ability to stay in contact with your golfers and keep them coming back time and again
  • Customized, responsive website lets you connect with golfers before they arrive at your course
  • Personal account manager helps you incorporate GOLFNOW technologies into your business and is there to help resolve any challenge or provide advice, when needed

The GOLF Business Solution Platform combines essential functions in one package, meaning that you don’t have to rely on multiple suppliers or sources for what your business needs. And it serves as an outstanding starting point from which you can grow your revenue, save time and add more services or technology – seamlessly – as needed.

If you want to learn more about the Platform, contact your GOLFNOW representative or fill out the following form here.


Golf Course Operator Holding Ipad

Boosting efficiency and profits, G1 is a system in high demand for 2019

Jan 08, 2019

Widespread acceptance of the G1 Platform

Early adopters of GolfNow One, better known as G1, have given the course management platform high marks. To hear them tell it, G1 has solved problems, streamlined customer purchases across the board and made it easier to manage golf facilities effectively. That positive feedback has circulated through the market and produced a long list of new signups requesting the technology. More than 300 golf courses have switched to G1, including the entire portfolio managed by industry leader Billy Casper Golf.

With enthusiasm for this innovative cloud-based solution heating up, installations of G1 will be occurring at a rapid rate as 2018 winds down and the new year commences. The relative quiet of the off season at northern facilities allows decision-makers some distraction-free time to evaluate their tech situation and see about making a system change. Ideally, that could be done soon enough in order to train staff prior to opening day next spring.

G1 checks a lot of boxes, even before you factor in its cloud-based advantages. The golf management software combines all software and operating systems into one technology platform, including tee sheet, point-of-sale, social media, employee schedules, inventory, payroll, vendor relations, and more. The cloud part means that all these functions can be controlled via G1 by a golf course operator from an internet-connected smartphone or tablet, any time and from any location.

G1 user Tom Beeler was in Florida last winter playing golf when some freak warmth sent Pittsburgh golfers to his electronic tee sheet, hoping to tee it up. Beeler, who is PGA director of golf and general manager of Grand View Golf Club in the Steel City suburb of North Braddock, Pa., booked a couple dozen players from his location 1,000 miles away.

“I had an employee pull out some carts and tuck the keys out of sight,” says Beeler, “then I instructed the golfers to text me so I could tell them where to look.” He has taken inquiries from banquet groups while out of town during the off-season and leveraged G1 to get those events on the calendar. “I’ve booked some big parties from down South as easily as if I was home,” he says.

Beeler stays in conversation with his GolfNow Plus specialist to keep apprised of updates and additions to the G1 features and functionality. At the current time he has not yet chosen to have a credit-card swipe added to the tablets used by his first-tee staff, though in 2019 that option will probably be exercised. “If I added that, it would mean on slower days I could move all payments out to my starter on the tee, and not have to open the golf shop. My starter could swipe the payment and I’d could trim payroll to fit my revenue level,” says Beeler.

Even as he keeps a lookout for upgrades, Beeler remains highly satisfied with the way the G1 system’s design makes it an easy learning curve for front-line workers, even if they’ve worked for decades using pre-digital tools. “G1 is set up so that the basics can be done easily, even by people who haven’t been using computers all their lives,” Beeler says. Grand View has full liquor license for the entire facility and can sell six-packs of beer straight out of the shop with purchase of a green fee, not to mention breakfast or lunch snacks, and sodas or coffee. “These are quick add-ons to their payment for golf and our people have a streamlined digital means of quickly getting it processed,” he says.

Asked about problem-solving by G1 at Grand View, Beeler goes straight to the pain point of green-fee receipts that are somehow lost between the shop and No. 1 tee. “Everybody loses that slip,” he says, “all the honest people who actually paid, as well as the people who are trying to beat the system by saying they lost it when, in fact, they hadn’t paid. Now we have most players’ credit card numbers on file and they just pop their heads in and say they’ve arrived—the starter can see the payment recorded on his tablet.” And any pilfering at Grand View is steadily going away as a result. “It is very hard to beat us at this point,” Beeler said, “we have every possible excuse covered with G1.”

Per the request of his GolfNow rep, Beeler speaks up readily when he hits upon a potential improvement to the software. “I’ve mentioned to our guy at GolfNow that there are some functions they could probably improve by eliminating keystrokes and mouse clicks—making it more streamlined,” says Beeler. “They always thank me and tell if or when the fix could go in. Other systems I’ve had aren’t so amenable to that—the rep starts defending his product. You never get that with GolfNow.”

Different facilities have different upgrades and efficiencies they hope to achieve—a superior tech package that’s built to serve all needs will readily provide exactly what’s needed or something very close. Word on the street is that G1 is delivering solutions across the board.

 


Resolve to generate reviews in 2019

Resolve to generate reviews in 2019

Nov 27, 2018

As a rapidly growing digital destination for the avid, traveling golfer, Golf Advisor has achieved record recent growth, highlighted by all-time milestones in 2018 across various key metrics. The site features more than 800,000 user-generated golf course reviews of more than 14,000 golf courses around the world from its active community of golfers, as well as its popular Best of Lists – the latest is scheduled to be announced next month.

Recent moves, like expanding Golf Advisor’s travel footprint through a new Golf Channel television series, hosted trips, expert editorial content and more, help ensure golfers deciding where they want to play next will continue to begin that search at Golf Advisor and GolfNow.

It’s common knowledge these days that the majority of shoppers depend on reviews to help them make their purchasing decisions – and golfers are no exception. More than 85 percent of the up to 1 million golfers that visit Golf Advisor each month state that reviews play an important role in making decisions about where they play. This peer feedback is increasingly important, with 87 percent of golfers saying they are likely to believe online ratings.

If it’s not part of your marketing mix, establishing a review strategy for 2019 might be the best New Year’s resolution you can make.

Reviews are valuable currency in today’s marketplace, and the more of them you have, the better. Keep marketing materials handy and conspicuous throughout your facility — stickers, posters, table tents. Print up business cards that ask golfers to visit Golf Advisor and rate their round. Have your cart and bag drop staff pass the cards out. Train them to ask every customer about his or her round and ask for the review. Some operations have iPads or computers available to employees so they can ask for the review right there with the customer.

Train all of your staff to greet guests, communicate politely and deliver top-shelf service. Consider rewarding any employee who gets called out in a review by name. That’s one way to incentivize great service and ensure a great review.

And, finally, put your best foot forward on Golf Advisor by updating photos and content (email customerservice@golfadvisor.com), and dedicate time daily to engaging with reviewers. That two-way conversation is your opportunity to thank customers, acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake and show every potential customer considering your course the kind of experience they can expect.


New GOLFNOW effort: chefs sharing knowledge

New GOLFNOW effort: chefs sharing knowledge

Nov 27, 2018

Experts in the kitchen recruited for advisory board

Course operators who are hungry for new ways to please golfers will be intrigued by GOLFNOW's recent move to form a Chef Advisory Board. The new program recognizes the growing importance of food-and-beverage as a service upgrade for courses and a key to stronger profit performance.

An additional factor in creating this initiative is now a faster product cycle in casual dining. Trends and cycles in this niche have been appearing more quickly of late, making a notable impact on consumer tastes and the overall market. It’s expected that golf management teams will find it beneficial to learn quickly about new menu items or styles of presentation that are making a hit in grill rooms and taverns across the country.

Gathering and sharing best-practice insights and information has become an increasingly high priority within GOLFNOW Business Services—to the point that Mike Hendrix, the division’s vice-president, realized there was this new trail worth blazing.

“It became increasingly clear that our partner courses needed a type of expertise we didn’t have on our team here,” says Hendrix, referring to the dining end of golf operations. To a good degree he drew this conclusion by looking at the Ride component of GolfNow, which serves a growing legion of course managers by lowering procurement costs in several areas, including food supplies.

“We’ve done a good job, through Ride, of helping course partners save money on their food purchases,” he notes. “But it was apparent we could do more to support and assist them. We could do that by gathering the insights of accomplished chefs who could share ideas on menu construction, food preparation, seasonal specialties and the like.”

So, with some additional research and planning, the idea for a GOLFNOW advisory board took shape, with Joe Martin as its inaugural member. Martin is the executive chef at The Country Club at Castle Pines, located in Castle Rock, Colo. He trained at the California Culinary Academy and comes to his new GOLFNOW role with two decades of experience, pleasing golfers in both the grill rooms and the formal dining rooms of prestigious clubs.

“With the club industry moving toward a more casual atmosphere, we have an amazing opportunity as culinary professionals to expand our offerings and creative parameters,” Martin said. “Through GOLFNOW's Chef Advisory Board, we will be able to create a vast network of professionals who will communicate wins and losses in our attempts to please our memberships. As we move forward with this program, it will be a powerful tool for all culinarians not only trying to expand their knowledge, but also to provide a place to share products and ideas that will improve the overall club dining experience.”

As further such invitations are made, they will go not just to those with classic fine-dining credentials. “We’ll look for people who have succeeded and innovated throughout the casual dining niche, especially within golf,” says Hendrix. “For example, we’ll seek out great ideas for preparing and serving food for at-the-turn.”

Board members will pitch in with a certain number of original articles yearly for distribution via multiple websites under the GolfNow and NBC Sports umbrellas. Each of these would include one or more recipes appropriate to the menus of public golf courses. The terms of board membership include having the chefs available to assist the GOLFNOW team at the PGA Merchandise Show, the CMAA Show and perhaps the annual CRB event the Chef to Chef Conference. And their followings on social media will be leveraged, too—advisors will make social media posts on their Facebook and Instagram accounts, inserting attractive photos of their recommended menu items.

One obvious step beyond content that covers meals and snacks is information about trends at the bar, itself—the beverage part of food-and-beverage. As part of this program’s mission, advisors and GOLFNOW personnel will keep a lookout for new wrinkles and trends in cocktails, wine selections and the ever-changing beer market. It’s quite possible, according to Hendrix, that a sommelier or master mixologist will eventually find their way onto the board.

Rarified information and creativity from leading food professionals has a particular potency in public golf, according to Hendrix, given that well over 2,000 public golf facilities in the U.S. do not employ a chef with culinary training. That’s one of many reasons why the sharing of what’s learned will be industry-wide, not delivered solely to GolfNow partner courses or Ride participants. “This is a new path we’re going down,” Hendrix says, “and we’re interested in really putting it out there to the industry. A rising tide lifts all boats, is what it’s all about.”

Featured photo:  The Terrace restaurant at The Country Club at Castle Pines