Pace of play, which has been shown to improve when using golf cart tracking, is listed by 84% of golf course owners and operators as a crucial factor in shaping perceptions of the player experience.
From a player perspective, a recent USGA study found that 74% of golfers listed pace of play as a key enjoyment factor.
Positive pace management is a great differentiator from competitors. When a player leaves having had a memorable golf experience, driven in part by proactive pace of play policies from courses and operators using golf cart tracking, they are far more likely to return.
They are also more likely to share that experience with others, attracting new players to the course and driving up the demand for membership. When prioritized and optimized, pace of play becomes an asset that generates additional revenue and keeps daily fee and resort players happy, along with members.
To get players or members to comply with any policy, you need their buy-in. Here’s how you can improve your chances of compliance.
Ultimately, the aim of playing a round of golf is to enjoy oneself, despite the frustration that comes with finding the water or three-putting.
How well we play on the day is a variable we all wish we could control, but part of what makes an enjoyable round includes being able to play at a reasonable pace without any bottlenecks and hold-ups on the course.
Having technology such as Tagmarshal’s optimization system in place makes it clear that a course is serious about creating a fair, data-driven pace of play policy.
Tagmarshal, the market leader in on-course optimization technology, uses golf cart tracking to provide courses with full, real-time operational oversight.
As players move around the course, GPS data is sent to Tagmarshal’s secure, cloud-based servers and transformed into information that is displayed in real-time on a Live Map screen, visible to golf managers, who can now accurately identify exactly which playing groups are out of position.
They can then be assisted to move back into position, before impacting on the pace and field flow. This gives golf operators the tools to manage operations effectively, resulting in enhanced player experiences and increased efficiency.
When educating golfers about the increased use of golf cart tracking technology, courses should make it clear that they also need the help of their players or members to ensure a memorable game of golf for all players, starting with pace and flow of play.
Once a course has formulated a pace of play policy, it needs to communicate that to golfers.
On the course’s website, the policy should be clearly visible from the home landing page, as well as being mobile-friendly so it can be viewed on the go from a phone.
Social media posts highlighting the additional measures a course is taking to proactively tackle the issue, like implementing golf cart tracking technology, can then link to the policy.
A themed newsletter focusing on the course’s policy, with a clickthrough link where it can be read in full, is also a surefire way to ensure golfers are aware of any changes. This also serves to further highlight that achieving the optimal pace of play is a two-way commitment, with buy-in from golfers and course management.
Encouraging golfers to play when they are in position to go and can do safely, rather than adhering strictly to the “farthest from the hole plays first” stipulation in the Rules of Golf, ready golf is becoming an increasingly popular way for modern courses to improve their pace of play.
The military-grade precision of golf cart tracking GPS systems also means that on courses using Tagmarshal’s 2Way cart screens, for example, golfers can see accurate yardage to the pin without spending time using a rangefinder.
Implementing ready golf effectively as part of an overall pace policy, and in way that encourages golfers to practice it responsibly, does call for additional awareness and education.
Signage outlining how to safely play ready golf should be placed around the clubhouse and pro shop, as well as inside the locker rooms. Social media channels could also be used for this purpose and there are many publicly available videos that highlight the correct protocols.
Regular reminders from the course to golfers are essential so that the pace of play policy, and the course’s expectations around this, become a normalized, ingrained part of every round of golf.
Utilizing social media channels, as well as follow-up newsletters, to share tips for improving pace of play is a great way to keep this front of mind. Highlighting the month’s average round time, calculated in part through golf cart tracking technology, in comparison to the desired average round time makes steady, incremental improvements something everyone can buy into.
Ensure each group is informed on the tee of what is expected from them and how they can stay in position, and have goal times clearly indicated on scorecards handed out. Signage at strategic points around the course reminding players of pace expectations, as well as at the halfway house and the clubhouse, further reinforces the policy.
Showing Tagmarshal’s Live Map on screens in the clubhouse and other prominent areas has proven to be very effective, giving players visibility of which groups are on pace or out of position, helping to maintain their awareness of this.
On courses that make use of Tagmarshal’s 2Way screens, golfers can monitor their own pace.
The screens show the group’s pace relative to the course’s round goal time, and golfers constantly interact with the screen to see accurate to the pin yardage and other useful information.
Messages can be sent to the 2Way cart screens, or via player assistants, updating groups on their position during the round.
Equipped with golf cart tracking data, real-time line of sight and Tagmarshal’s powerful algorithms that automatically identify potential problem groups before issues arise, player assistants can also be far more targeted with on-course interventions.
This data-driven approach to keeping pace front of mind reshapes on-course player interactions. Based on USGA research, “corrective pace of play actions” are the worst-rated experience factors in golf. The traditional, often confrontational marshal approach of “you’re slow – get on with it” can significantly impact the player experience and their service perception.
Coach your team to avoid the word “slow” in their approach. Rather, use ‘out of position’
Golfers who consistently play quicker than the course’s desired round goal time, or average round time, should be celebrated.
Regularly highlighting these pacesetters with an initiative like fastest round of the month can serve as inspiration for others to effectively monitor their own pace. Throw in a prize, like a free round of beers at the clubhouse or discounts at the pro shop, and you draw positive attention to the pace of play policy you’ve implemented.
Communicate these success stories through your monthly newsletters and social media channels, relying on golf cart tracking data to illustrate how players are responding to the pace metrics in place.
Golf cart tracking data should be seen as a tool to improve working relationships with golfers. After all, courses rely on their buy-in to help achieve a field flow that delivers an exceptional on-course experience for everyone.
Course owners and operators shouldn’t use the golf cart tracking technology for “gotcha” moments when players hold up the field or make incorrect assumptions about their pace of play. Instead, consider it an opportunity to show that the course is proactive in its approach to this key player experience factor, as well as building trust in the systems and processes that are in place.
If there are repeat slow play offenders, develop a process to deal with them and communicate this in the pace of play policy. For example, some courses will have the president or general manager call a player after a third offense or send a formal letter or email informing them that they’re not meeting expectations.
To soften the blow, ask how and where the course might be able to assist in improving their pace of play. This could take the form of advice or a conversation or lesson with the head professional, who can offer tips on how to play the course’s more difficult holes, for example.
Should the golfer’s round times fail to improve, then measures such as restricting access to certain tee times and only allowing them to play off-peak for a month can be considered.
With pace and course flow proving so important to the overall player experience, turning this into an asset at your course is a great way to stand out from others.
Cultivating an environment where players actively support the measures the course is taking and can see the tangible benefits of doing so plays a pivotal role in the success of any policies.
“Tagmarshal has enabled us to effectively implement our pace of play policy, assisting us in reducing playtime, which allowed us to add additional tee times for extra capacity.”
By effectively using golf cart tracking technology and harnessing the buy-in of your players, you can turn pace and flow of play into a strength that encourages golfers to return time and time again.
Tagmarshal, the market leader in on-course optimization technology, provides courses with full, real-time operational oversight and reporting, giving golf operators the tools to manage pace and flow of play effectively, resulting in enhanced player experiences, increased efficiency through automation, and additional revenue generation.
Tagmarshal’s technology has collected over 1 billion data points from more than 30 million rounds of golf and has relationships with in excess of 500 partners, including Hazeltine, Whistling Straits, Baltusrol, Fieldstone, Bandon Dunes, Serenoa and Erin Hills.
Tagmarshal partners with several golf management groups, private, daily fee, public and resort courses, including 35 of the Top 100 US courses, as well as many $30-$50 green fee courses, which are seeing excellent results using the system.