How to manage the pace of play well at your golf club?

By: November 25, 2019

The R&A says there are 3 factors which influence the pace of play:

  1. The management of play;
  2. The course design and set-up;
  3. The players.

In this interview with Stephen Knoop (Managing Director, Tagmarshal International) I try to get answers on, how could golf clubs manage the pace of play better.

What kind of pace of play measurement solutions are available today worldwide? What is the difference between them?

There are two ways of managing pace of play – the traditional, manual route, using pen and paper to manually track time and distance between holes vs.

GPS based systems, which use technology to optimize the pace of play, in a cost and time-efficient way.

The traditional approach would require a team of marshals to constantly roam the course, trying to identify slow play.

This is resource-heavy and time-consuming, making it an expensive option. More importantly, it’s reactive – as slow play impacts course flow, before it is identified and can be resolved, resulting in poor player experiences.

Technology solutions, such as Tagmarshal golf course intelligence software, collect data in real-time, using GPS trackers, which are installed into golf carts, or attached to golf bags, push trolleys or caddies, to track and monitor playing group movement.

Our golf course intelligence software identifies groups that are slow or out of position, and calculates trends and risks for easy prioritization.

This data is then fed back to course staff and the pro shop in real-time on tablets, mobile devices or PC.

This allows for focused, efficient and proactive intervention – resolving slow play before it has a negative impact on course flow. This results in positive golfer experiences.

Tagmarshal-2way-cartscreens-in carts-pace of play

What kind of tracking technology trends do you predict for the coming years?

  • Growth in the use of artificial intelligence/machine learning: will allow complex calculations to become fast and easy. New patterns will be formed, and insights generated, leading to innovation within the tracking technology space.
  • Big Data: This trend will continue to grow, as big data underpins artificial intelligence. Big data allows for greater accuracy when it comes to machine learning.
  • Growth in the Internet of Things: Full integration between home / personal /work/sports leisure environments will become commonplace, with GPS data being the key to this. Experiences will become more customized and relevant, based on GPS-based location data.

How precise a GPS tracking unit can be?

GPS tracking is extremely accurate, as it uses a combination of satellite/ mobile phone towers, to pinpoint exact coordinates. Accuracy varies between 0m-2m.

Can Tagmarshal communicate with the irrigation system of the golf club?

Tagmarshal’s system is designed with integration in mind and integrates comfortably with most APIs. Course usage and utilization data Tagmarshal generated gets used to inform irrigation and maintenance set-ups.

Tagmarshal-2way-mobile-pace of play

Who will analyze your data? Which golf clubs can afford to have a business analyst?

Our data is transformed by algorithms into usable insights, delivered to course staff via an easy to use dashboard, accessible via their mobile devices or PC.

This allows for accurate real-time management and helps the club make informed decisions on setups and benchmarking its performance.

As a result, it’s not necessary for a club to employ a data analyst – the data has already been analyzed by Tagmarshal.

Furthermore, Tagmarshal has a Data Optimization team, who are available for complex, custom reporting requirements.

Our data-driven approach provides easy to use, accurate information, as well as tools to benchmark and manage performance via best in class analytics.

Tagmarshal-product-shot-2019 on different screens-pace of play

How golf clubs convert your findings into extra revenue & improved CX?

Tagmarshal optimizes on-course operations, through the pace of play management, resulting in balanced course flow, optimal round times and increased player satisfaction.

Good pace and flow of play are key experience factors to the modern golfer (*USGA research) and a non-negotiable service delivery component.

USGA research found:

“74% of golfers say pace of play is critical to their experience.”

Our approach to the pace of play management is proactive and leads to objective, neutral engagement, resulting in positive player experiences.

This improves golfer satisfaction, creates cost savings through efficiency and generates additional revenue.

Mike O’Reilly (PGA Head Golf Professional, Whistling Straits, Hosts to the 2015 PGA Championship) said:

“The team at Tagmarshal have become true partners to our operation. Our goal is to improve the experience for our guests while maximizing our revenue potential and Tagmarshal has helped us to do both.

We have reduced our labor expense on the golf course increased our round capacity, and realized many operational efficiencies utilizing the program. We are happy with the program as it is and look forward to continuous improvement opportunities with the team at Tag”

Additional revenue is generated via:
  1. Increased F&B Spend: Time saved during play, gets spent in the pro shop and on F&B, resulting in increased spend.
  2. Tee Sheet Optimization: As playtime decreases, additional tee sheet capacity is created, generating additional revenue for operators.
  3. Cost Savings: Fewer staff are needed to manage the pace of play, as technology identifies issues proactively. This means cost savings, from a labor perspective. These savings can be reinvested into employing more Golf Pros, who further enhance the player experience.
Tagmarshal product-shot-Tag-pace of play

How can Tagmarshal or similar solutions contribute to better employee experience?

There is no need for staff to spend hours on the course, trying to manually identify gaps and problems.

The Tagmarshal system does that job, freeing up staff hours and empowering player assistants with objective, real-time data to accurately and efficiently focus pace of play management efforts.

The pace of play can be managed proactively by marshals, in an objective, neutral manner, supported by data.

Staff can spend freed up time assisting players, rather than policing them which can lead to confrontation, resulting in high levels of player satisfaction, loyalty and repeat play, as well as increased employee satisfaction.

Matt Summers, PGA Head Professional – Mountain Branch said:

“Creating an environment where customers know they can come and play in a reasonable amount of time is very important to us. This keeps members happy, customers happy and it helps create a reputation of a place that does care and wants everyone’s day more enjoyable.

Happy golfers make for happy people towards our staff and throughout our entire facility prompting repeat visits and spending money in other areas of our facility.

Brad Gould, Golf Manager, The Grove said:

“It has been a huge pleasure to have Tagmarshal come on board as a key partner of The Grove. The system has helped transform our flow of the golf course beyond expectation while also improving the working environment of our golf operations team.”