Through the use of golf cart GPS technology, an ever-growing number of golf managers are finding ways to optimize their on-course operations.
Optimization, defined as the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource, has many benefits for course operators who are looking to maximize efficiency during a time in which labor resources are becoming increasingly expensive and harder to come by.
Another key benefit to course optimization is improving the pace of play and field flow, with technology empowering a new approach to monitoring this crucial factor in creating a positive player experience.
These incremental improvements, carried out season after season using data powered by Tagmarshal’s golf cart GPS technology, help golf course managers create an environment where the player experience is prioritized. Ultimately, this has a huge impact on how successful a golf course will be.
“For continuous improvement, we need to have data. Tagmarshal really helps us out with the ability to track and manage on-course operations, based on real-time and historical data.”
Mike O’Reilly, PGA Head Professional, Whistling Straits
With an empowered team able to draw on golf cart GPS tracking for full, real-time operational oversight and reporting, courses are able to do more, with less.
One of the most immediate impacts is freeing up time for managers and their teams. Rather than having marshals, referred to as player assistants from here on, aimlessly patrolling the field, Tagmarshal’s Live Map feature shows the movements of each group based on golf cart GPS coordinates.
A single team member can oversee this from the clubhouse or pro shop while carrying out other tasks. Staff resources can then be directed towards improving service delivery and delivering an exceptional player experience, distinguishing an ordinary course from a top-notch one.
If players leave happier, all but eliminating complaints delivered to management, they are far more likely to spread positive word of mouth about the course, driving repeat play.
“Tagmarshal provides us with a bird’s-eye view of our operations, helping us to manage field flow and to allocate resources effectively, based on data.”
Jeff Simonds, Assistant GM and Senior Director of Operations, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Golf cart GPS technology collects large quantities of real-time data as players move around the course.
That is helpful to course management, but what really makes the difference is transforming that data into actionable insights.
Via Tagmarshal’s intuitive Analytics Hub, areas in which improvement is possible (or necessary) are easily identifiable through a series of easy-to-use tools.
These include setting appropriate goal times, measuring starter accuracy and the impact this has on round times and tracking the effect of on-course staff interventions.
Optimizing operations through the use of golf cart GPS technology can be broken down into 3 key areas.
Pace of play is rated as a top three factor in creating a positive player experience, according to 84% of golf course owners and 74% of golfers.
Through the use of golf cart GPS, courses can develop realistic and informed pace of play policies and goal times which are then communicated to players, setting clear expectations on this front before groups tee off.
“Our partnership with Tagmarshal has been integral to our player experience and service strategy, by providing us with the data-driven management we need to optimize player experiences, helping us to deliver consistent excellence that keeps our players coming back again and again.”
Larry Galloway, Owner and Operator Advance Golf Partners
The data gathered by golf cart GPS technology also allows managers to identify problematic hole setups. Areas where bunching regularly occurs can be pinpointed and hole placement made easier, or additional resources can be deployed to offer more support so that field flow is not adversely affected.
On the course, players benefit from the military-grade accuracy of golf cart GPS tracking in a number of ways.
Precise to the pin yardage enhances the player experience, as does the improved service that courses can offer. Management can send a drinks cart directly to a playing group as and when needed, and Tagmarshal’s 2Way cart screen devices open up a range of possibilities.
For example, course operators can prompt F&B orders at specific locations, which are completed by players on the devices. The orders are collected at the turn, reducing the wait time significantly.
In this way, bottlenecks around the halfway house are avoided and staff can focus on offering exceptional service.
Patrolling the field using a team of player assistants can take up a sizeable allocation of labor resources. Without the use of golf cart GPS technology, staff would aimlessly drive or walk the course reacting to perceived slow-playing groups.
In the past, on-course staff interventions have also had the potential to negatively impact player experience. Now, with data to rely on to identify which groups are responsible for hold-ups and where they are, player assistants can respond in a targeted, yet neutral manner.
On courses using Tagmarshal’s 2Way cart devices, staff are also able to send messages directly to certain groups, requesting that they get back in position before a player assistant gets involved.
A recent NGCOA report found that course owners and operators named course conditioning as the most crucial factor to the player experience, which backs up the USGA’s finding that 82% of players listed it as an important enjoyment factor.
This is another area of course management that usually requires a high volume of resource allocation, although this can be reduced through the use of golf cart GPS tracking.
With accurate geofencing in place, and the ability to know which playing group has transgressed and where, sensitive areas of the course can be protected and those responsible for the breaches held accountable.
Superintendent and maintenance teams can also operate far more efficiently, using golf cart GPS to identify gaps in the field so they can carry out their work without impacting those playing.
“I do not know how we could not have Tagmarshal until now. It is a great tool that allows us to optimize the job of our player assistants, monitor pace of play, control restricted areas on the golf course and be able to make decisions based on information.”
Agustin Mazarrasa, General Manager Real Club de Golf Sotogrande
Utilizing Tagmarshal’s heatmap visualization, compiled using geolocation data from the GPS tracking, superintendents are also able to analyze wear patterns and cart path use.
With data highlighting areas of the course with the most activity, resources can be allocated where needed and high-cost activities like irrigating and fertilizing better managed.
Creating additional tee sheet capacity is a surefire way to increase revenue, but in doing so a course runs the risk of adversely affecting the player experience.
Effectively identifying and managing gap intervals, using golf cart GPS data and a feature like Tagmarshal’s Gap Time Monitor, requires an understanding of when a specific course generally plays quicker.
On certain days or during certain hours, the gap interval can be optimized to increase tee sheet capacity. Whereas public and resort courses generate extra green fees, private courses can offer members additional opportunities to play during periods that may be in higher demand and ensure greater member retention year-on-year.
When you can guarantee that pace and flow of play will remain unaffected during peak hours, backed up by data, there’s also the option to implement dynamic pricing policies, charging higher fees for tee times in greater demand.
Not only do players who’ve enjoyed a quicker round walk off the course happier, but they also have more time to spend on F&B as well as at the pro shop, driving further bottom-line gains.
Pace of play, when turned into an asset, benefits the player through an enhanced on-course experience, but it also unlocks additional revenue opportunities. When a course is running at peak performance, maximizing efficiency so that labor resources can be strategically deployed to high-impact areas, every revenue opportunity can be maximized.
“The data has allowed us to optimize tee sheet capacity and improve flow – enhancing the guest experience and increasing golf revenue by 25%.”
Chip Hierlihy, General Manager Fieldstone Golf Club
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.