Two years ago, I recommended to golf club managers and driving range owners to rethink the driving experience. In this interview with Nikolaj Kromann Jørgensen (COO, TrackMan) I want to figure out
- what is the contribution of TrackMan to customer experience?
- how and in what direction will PGA Pros’ work will change in 5 years?
How do you imagine the future of driving ranges?
We see most range facilities and public golf courses, and many private clubs, evaluating how they can create more value for their customers and members at the driving range. There is a strikingly big difference between the experience at a non-tech driving range and one with TrackMan technology.
Users can find their exact distances and can get many types of insights which makes their practice more productive. Users can play virtual golf including their local course if it has been rendered, as well as play many different types of games both for kids and for the more serious golfer.
Some of the games can even be played in tournament format where the user can compete against other golfers for prizes.
This is one of the most fun elements that will continue to change the range experience, as we see local and also international competitive challenges becoming a big part of the driving range’s success.
All this increases user satisfaction at the driving range significantly, and they spend much more time leading to better business performance for the club or range.
Because of this, we believe that most driving range facilities will invest in the technology over time.
How and in what direction will PGA Pros’ change in the next 5 years?
A large number of PGA pros are investing in technology to help aid golf coaching and custom fitting both in an indoor and outdoor environment. This not only gives the PGA professional the ability to verify that the work they are doing on the golf swing or the equipment they are recommending is optimized, it also provides a whole new level of service and added value for the customer journey and experience.
The launch monitor has become the ‘must-have’ piece of kit for the modern coach. It saves time in the diagnosis of problems and allows the teacher to track student progress while avoiding over-correction. The launch monitor is now a vital and mandatory tool for a top coach.
The launch monitor measures the two most important things in golf – impact and ball flight – which is why it has become the key to successful coaching and club fitting.
One trend we are seeing is that many teaching experts are using indoor bays at the golf club or in a purpose-built simulator center for coaching, fitting, practice, and more recently for rental as a golf simulator for play on indoor golf courses.
This extends the season, provides new revenue streams, and uses tools to create more value and experience for their customers.
Can you measure the contribution of TrackMan to the golf club’s customer experience goals?
We provide each venue with a comprehensive facility management tool to measure performance while our customer-success teams work with every venue from before installation to ensure their goals are achieved.
Every venue has a different version of what success looks like and so we tailor our approach accordingly. Goals can include things like
- financial performance,
- member retention, and acquisition,
- diversifying the current user demographics, or
- just simply measuring if more balls hit.
The most satisfying metric is that of further investment in other areas of the club due to the success of adding TrackMan to the driving range. Once considered a cost center, the range experience can be a significant revenue driver that can now contribute to a golf club’s future commercial success.
As a golf club, investing in TrackMan can generate new revenue streams that make it an attractive investment. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but you can expect membership to grow.
That alone is a source of extra revenue but then you can also factor in the extra spend at
- the clubhouse,
- the restaurant,
- the bar,
- pro-shop, and
- perhaps even coaching sessions, especially during off-season months when visitors can sometimes lag.
Having a simulator, in addition, offers an extra capacity that can help a commercial center or golf club manage flow better during busy periods as it will help free up tee times.
Not unrelated to this is the potential to raise membership prices or offer tiered memberships based perhaps on full-access rights at all times of the day or one that might be given on simulator usage alone.
The options are considerable and enable you to give exclusivity to some membership options that frequently attract more customers.
You may even offer ‘pay-as-you-go’ options for the very casual player inclined to try out the simulator a first time or for players not willing to commit initially to full membership fees.
Do you see business potential in wearables?
We have developed an iWatch app allowing the user to get data directly on their watch for convenience when practicing.
In our experience, most golfers (and athletes) prefer to practice without wearables as wearing wearables makes the experience less natural.
Have you experienced any changes in purchasing behavior of golf clubs & PGA Pros due to the lockdown?
Over the past two years, we have seen strong demand across our products. We have also seen a strong increase in usage. In 2021 alone, there were over a billion golf shots tracked with TrackMan technology around the World.
We have seen strong growth in investments from both golf clubs, driving ranges, and PGA Pros due to the lockdown, as golf participation in most countries has risen circa 20% vs. pre-covid.
This has made many assess how they can invest more in their business to retain members and create more value for users.
Many golf clubs have already taken full advantage of our 360 solution where the teaching pro uses a TrackMan 4 for practice sessions, the driving range is equipped with TrackMan Range technology with screens, and the clubhouse has one or several simulators installed.
With a rendering of the course, the members and visitors can play the course at the driving range or in the simulator. This 360 approach offers members and users a consistent set of data that is pinpoint precise and they can store their data in the free-to-download TrackMan Golf App.
This also allows the teaching pro to access practice data from sessions where the teaching pro did not participate.