Courses Gain a Competitive Edge with ‘Smart’ Tech

With all the wonders technology brings to our everyday lives, the concept of saving time might just be what we love the most. With a simple and quick click of a mouse, you can order or arrange just about anything you desire.

As the golf experience continues to dip a toe into the digital age, those who love to play the game are beginning to understand how technology can enhance their overall playing experience. From start to finish, technology provides an opportunity for golfers to skip the typical speed bumps that can make what already is a healthy investment in time even longer. On the flip side, it also provides golf course operators with the tools and know-how to deliver a more customer-focused experience to their customers.

Take the newly minted SmartPlay technology developed by GolfNow, for example. No other tech can compare with SmartPlay’s full integration and ability to allow golf course operators to move beyond the traditional customer golfing experience – which can be chock full of those speed bumps previously mentioned – and into the contactless safety and super-convenience that today’s golfer demands.

As an operator, just think about the pitfalls within the golfer journey before technology came around, which could put you behind the 8-ball from the very start:

  • Incessant incoming calls about available tee times, which tie up your phone lines and occupy an already busy staff. Time is money, as they say, and time spent answering calls is pulling your team away from the golfer experience.
  • The inability or time to gather important customer data for future marketing and communications
  • No opportunities to pre-expose your customers to your pro-shop merchandise or food and beverage options
  • Reliance on one cart attendant for all of your on-course service.

These are just a few.

Convenient, Easy, Customized, Quick, Safe … these are popular buzzwords in the golf industry nowadays as consumer expectations over the past year have shifted demand. Golf course managers – already strapped for time and resources – are looking to integrate more technology into their operations to meet those demands while lessening staffing costs and increasing service levels to improve the golfer experience – not to mention creating a safe environment for both guests and staff who still may be unsure about human touchpoints.

Through the GolfNow app, Smartplay allows a golfer to search for, book and pay for a tee time in advance at any participating SmartPlay golf course; pre-purchase golf shop merchandise and drinks when they check in and pay on site, and head directly to the first tee; place food and beverage orders during a round of golf; and either pick up at the clubhouse or get their orders delivered anywhere on the golf course through the GPS technology built into the app. And SmartPlay is a dynamic technology that always has room for additional features that are introduced automatically – like the direct SMS text messaging capability to any or all golfers on the course – with no extra work or time required from the course operator.

“There are lots of apps out there that solve just about any need but the ones that provide the most value and the most integration will always provide the best experience,” said Jerramy Hainline, Senior Vice President and General Manager for the golf businesses within NBC Sports Next. “SmartPlay stands apart from the competition because it’s the only one that’s fully-integrated into a course’s point-of-sale system. With others, the operator still has to do the work. With SmartPlay, our integration does that work for them automatically.”

SmartPlay is built to run within GolfNow’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 in real time any time of day through their desktop computer and anywhere through a hand-held personal device. For example, a course using SmartPlay no longer will have to manually input food and beverage sales completed on golfers’ phones. Those types of transactions via SmartPlay technology are automatically and immediately reflected in sales counts and reports, substantially increasing the accuracy of all sales records.

“As new elements get built in, the bottom line is that SmartPlay will create an opportunity for any golf course to become more data-driven,” said Steve McElwee, Chief Technology Officer for NBC Sports Next. “Tracking golfer behavior through app clicks, in-app purchases and more will allow operators to make more-informed decisions about what their golfers want and, in turn, creates a more personal experience. More data means better understanding, better reporting and more revenue.”

For a golf course operator, SmartPlay does more than check the boxes. It provides an opportunity to become smarter and to grab a competitive edge over other businesses in your area who also are tugging at the wallets of potential customers.