Check-In and Pay: The “Two-Minute Drill” Golfers Rave About

A golfer booked into your Saturday morning tee sheet notices on Friday that they’re out of cash. To fix that problem, they’ll use a drive-through ATM or buy an item or two at the supermarket and touch the button for cash back. If they do visit the supermarket, it won’t involve standing in line—it’ll be straight to self-checkout.

The next morning this golfer will drive happily into your parking lot— hoping to avoid a line of people in your golf shop, all restless and fidgeting while the customers ahead of them pay green fees, make small talk and ask a question or two in the process.

“Other industries have been training people not to wait in line,” says Rob Browning, an Area Director with NBC Sports Next. “Golf can be part of that trend, which is why the SmartPlay features in G1 like Check-In and Pay are growing every month, allowing golfers, on their own, to go through check-in and payment in an average of two minutes, at whatever time is convenient for them.” 

This feature is a remedy for the weak link in a chain of events that make up the customer’s end-to-end experience at some golf facilities. In the process, they’re helping course operators see the cost and staffing benefits of digital check-in and payment. “With short-staffing an ongoing problem, we take a lot of satisfaction in being able to give back chunks of time to our course partners and the people on their teams,” says Browning.

Browning’s comment about consumers being trained to alter their behavior harkens back to mid-2020 and the industry’s sweeping shift to prepay-only. That complete shift to prepay-only has scaled back, but the Check-In and Pay feature continues to deliver an advantage, by enabling golfers to check in for their round without person-to-person contact. That benefit is just one of many that are prompting extremely high satisfaction scores in user surveys.

Along with the entire suite of SmartPlay features for G1, Check-in and Pay integrates directly into a course’s point of sale system for time savings, deeper integration, and easy reconciliation. That same golfer who sauntered past the check-in line will take further pleasure from whatever form of expedited food-and-beverage service a golf facility offers, be it pre-order/prepay and pickup, or delivery on-course via the GPS tracking and route recommendations also built into SmartPlay features.

Few advantages in cloud course management rival SmartPlay, which is built to run within NBC Sports Next’s G1 and EZSuite management platforms, as well as the EZTee Pro cloud tee sheet. Operators can see and manage every booking and every payment transaction as they happen, using their desktop or off-site using a mobile device. Using SmartPlay means no more having to manually input the food and beverage sales completed on golfers’ phones. Instead, they’re automatically captured and reflected, real-time, in sales counts and reports.

“A NBC Sports Next partner course that uses one of our management platforms as well as our credit card processing software can turn on SmartPlay features quickly and easily,” explains Browning. “A brief call to their Market Sales Manager will make that happen, with no up-charge.” 

Immediately after the activation, the course’s record on the GolfNow booking engine will be “badged” to indicate that Check-In and Pay, along with the rest of the SmartPlay functions, are available to golfers. “The email confirming any reservation also states it’s been made at a SmartPlay facility with mobile features,” says Browning. “In addition, there is a push notification for any booked player who crosses the course’s geo-fence within two hours of their tee reservation.” The display screen on the golf cart of any riding player restates the SmartPlay-in-use message one additional time.

“When the golfer has an improved customer experience, they’re more inclined to increase their spend each visit,” says Browning. “When they’re using their mobile device for the green fee transaction—and getting it accomplished in time windows as short as two minutes—they’ll be more likely to make merchandise purchases as well as food and beverage purchases using that same device.”

Featured Products is the SmartPlay tool a course operator can use to induce customers to make a purchase of golf balls, gloves or other gear “right on top of paying to play,” in Browning’s words. As that change of behavior sets in, it opens the possibility for the crew at your course to make some beneficial changes, as well—for example, using their freed-up time to set up the items purchased on the customer’s golf cart. “That’s taking service at the course, and therefore the customer experience, to a new level,” Browning asserts.

Consumer banking couldn’t function without ATMs and most supermarkets would be in the lurch without self-checkout. In all likelihood, the day will come when golf courses won’t be able to run without digital solutions like SmartPlay —and features like Check-In and Pay. Want to learn more?