As golfers go high-tech, are operators keeping pace?

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It wasn’t that long ago that most golfers were considered what sociologists call “late adapters” of technology – individuals who don’t embrace electronic innovations until well after they’ve become part of everyday life for others.
Whether true or not, it’s clear from a new survey of technology use by the National Golf Foundation that golfers are just as plugged into the latest devices – computers, smart phones, personal digital devices and MP3 players -- as the rest of society.
The NGF study conducted this spring found that most core golfers are online or check e-mail every day – and 88 percent use it several times throughout the day. What do they do? Well 83 percent go online just for fun or to pass the time. And younger golfers (18-34 years) are even more active online – doing everything from researching the latest in golf gear to playing fantasy golf. 
One statistic that makes this relevant to individual course operators is that 61 percent of golfers survey had arranged tee times online in the last year. And 38 percent had researched or found recommendations online about golf courses. Add to that the fact that nearly two of every three core golfers has visited a social networking services (such as FaceBook or LinkedIn) and it’s easy to see that there’s a great opportunity for reaching golfers on a one-to-one basis.
How have you taken advantage of technology to reach the increasingly Web-savvy golfer? How has that impacted your own bottom line and how has it paid off for your overall operation? Or do you know of another operator who's effectively used technology to reach customers? We’d like to hear from you.  


As we are a Private Member only Golf and Country Club, we wanted to see if our members would engage with each other on a facebook page. We launched the page with no announcements and watched! It is now two months later and we have 74 fans, little dialoging or commenting and had two potential membership leads from this source and one family membership reinstatement related to the facebook page. We have used it to announce quick little news tidbits about things that are related to our Club also. You are welcome to check out our facebook page at Deering Bay Yacht and Country Club.

Operators are keeping up where they shouldn't and not keeping up where they should. What do I mean? Well, by now, every reputable course should have a website with a virtual tour of the course, on-line tee time scheduling, and an online pro shop. The public courses should absolutely have on-line tee time scheduling at the very least. If they can't develop their own web-based scheduling system, use a service like TeeMaster. Courses that are struggling should develop websites with a strong focus on setting up keywords that the search engines can find so their course will pop up first on the list. Hardly anyone I know picks up a phone book anymore, and rarely print media. In regard to keeping up where they should NOT...I think that courses should not increase their construction and maintenance costs to accommodate irresponsible expansion of distance with "hot" equipment. Distance equipment is driving them out of business and driving away lifetime golfers as they age because courses are becoming too long. The young with busy schedules simply don't have time to play them. Lengthening courses costs a lot of money and there are hidden costs. Future maintenance costs are increased, and revenue is lost from golfers who won't come out to play a more difficult, expensive, and time consuming course. When will the owners realize that the equipment manufacturers are making money on backs of the golf course owners? If owners want to put money into renovation, how about putting money into thoughtful, challenging and playable tees that will address the needs of senior golfers and handicaps across the board. Or put money into new technology to reduce maintenance costs and conserve water? Water conservation and sustainable turf that is more firm and fast flies in the face of new distance technology. But why should owners pay so that the equipment manufacturers can sell more?

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