Pebble Beach’s, Eric Lippert, on Pace of Play Optimization for Success

One of the best parts of my job is the privilege of meeting scores of eager golfers every day. Many of them are here for the first time, most of them anticipating this day for a lifetime.

Whether your tee sheet is full of golfers crossing your course off their bucket list or is a group of members or customers who enjoy their facility every day, ensuring they have a positive and memorable experience is vital to bringing them back, retaining their business, and increasing participation.

Regardless of the type of facility you run, pace of play is one of the biggest influences of that experience. With technology leading the way in tee time reservations, coaching, and equipment, it seems logical we’d use it to help us keep play moving on a daily basis.

So in 2017, we began testing a GPS-enabled hardware and software system, Tagmarshal, and found that by clipping a GPS tracking unit onto one bag in each group, we are able to monitor the pace and spacing of every group on the course from any connected device.

This real-time information has fundamentally changed the role of our on-course player assistants, who now can dedicate nearly all of their time to solving issues as they develop rather than trying to identify them.

In addition, this technology generates thousands of data points each day that we analyze and use to inform our pace of play communications, expectations, and policies.

Safe to say, an advancement in technology has been the cornerstone of a refocused pace of play program at Pebble Beach that has yielded considerable improvement recognized by new and repeat guests alike.

And his views were echoed by Francisco Cadete, the director of golf at Praia D’El Rey and West Cliffs, the finest new course in Portugal.

“Tagmarshal has given us the ability to have a line of sight and full control on the course. It allows us to know where the players are, when they finish etc. We can now provide an exceptional on-course experience to our members and guests,” he said.

Indeed, Alcanada’s year-on-year performance for August to October – the busiest month for the Mallorcan club – shows an average 10-minute reduction with an improvement for groups within 10 minutes of goal time of 10 percentage points. While in October itself, when the most rounds were played, the improvement was almost 12 minutes, with a goal-time increase of 21 percentage points.

Tagmarshal’s industry-leading algorithms display real-time alerts for clubhouse staff and marshals to pre-emptively address golfers falling out of position the required pace of play. Data transmission is provided from a small GPS device clipped to golfers’ bag, or a 2Way screen installed on buggies.

The business impact of maintaining an acceptable pace of play:

Simply put, the best way to promote a return visit from a guest is to exceed his or her expectations. Our biggest challenge in meeting that goal historically has been pace of play.

As a public facility, we have golfers of all skill levels intermingled, and of course it only takes one slow group at the beginning of a summer day to potentially ruin the experience for over 200 guests.

Technology has now given us the tools and information to revamp the way we address these problem groups. As a result, we’ve been able to increase the percentage of golfers who play in under five hours from 60 percent in the first month we began tracking this data, to over 85 percent in the most recently.

Not surprisingly, the number of complaints we receive about pace of play has dropped meaningfully too. This improvement is something we are very proud of and are confident will enhance the attractiveness of Pebble Beach as a golf destination.

About Tagmarshal

Tagmarshal is a golf course intelligence and pace-of-play management solution that turns pace into an asset. The system uses small ‘tags’ clipped onto golf bags, installed in buggies or offered on handheld or cart-installed proprietary 2Way screen devices, which transmit geo-location data, using golf cart GPS based technology. Industry-leading algorithms identify risk groups with accurate, objective support to alleviate pace challenges before they arise. Public, private and resort courses using Tagmarshal realise substantial returns on investment through improved on-course experiences, achieved with fewer staff, as well as increases in daily rounds. Impactful and easy-to-use data analytics, weather data integration and geo-fencing complete the offering.