Quick 9: Don MacKay – Muskoka Highlands Golf Links

Deemed as one of the most sought after golf courses within its region, Muskoka Highlands consistently surpasses golfer’s expectations with their quality and affordable services.

The renowned golf course is guaranteed to challenge golfers of all abilities, while maintaining a fun and fast round. The best part about golfing at Muskoka Highlands is it is the only facility that allows golfers to bring their dog so you’ll never have to play alone.

In this edition of our Quick 9’s, we take out some time to chat to Don MacKay, President, and learn more about how he has optimized his on-course operations at Muskoka Highlands Golf Links.

How would you describe your morning routine to kickstart your day?

We start at 6AM – turn off the alarms remotely and then get set and head across our parking lot from house to clubhouse – usually greeting early guests around 645AM for their 7AM tee time.
Lots of routine checking balances and play for the day.

Has golf always been your first love? What other sports/team are you a fan of?

I have played golf since I was 7 years old – starting at a par 3 course in Lively and then growing from there. My keen interest in the business was heightened when I became CFO for a group of companies one of which was a preeminent builder in Ontario.

What is your favorite/greatest round of golf experience?

There are no favorites -but the NGCOA golf tournament is always a great family time.

I did travel to Scotland to meetup with our eldest who was playing professional basketball in Manchester. We started at Turnberry and moved to Dundonald, then Macrihanish, then St Andrews and ended at Crail. A trip that have a lot of miles in it, and many smiles.

Tell us about your role at Muskoka Highlands? Why is it important?

Being an owner, there is no role. It is essentially to empower, assist and ensure that everyone can do their roles here.
My key inputs are in marketing and finance since our youngest son is now the GM and is growing into full operational control. It will take time.

Why has your course decided to invest in Tagmarshal?

We needed eyes on the course. We never had a Marshal – as they can be poor ambassadors if they do not do it well. Our course flows naturally at 3.5 – 4 hours for a round.

Tagmarshal gives us the eyes to prevent backups from happening. The color coding is very helpful to give us a warning as to where it might happen. We can then visit the players and assess the situation.
Importantly, it gives us data on the flow, and lets us deal with complaints of slow play by exposing and explaining the data to them. We often have people complain and then we tell them they played in less than 4 hours.

Since the implementation of the Tagmarshal system, how have your customers responded to the on-course experience?

The golfers appreciate the fact that we are watching without interfering with their game – and the games of others.

Describe Tagmarshal in three words. 

Eyes on course.

What is your dream golf destination? Why?

I would love to take my family to a small location in Scotland and play local courses for a week. Courses more like ours. We would sprinkle this with a couple of Name courses – but mostly local tracks.

Your best golf moment?

There is not one – sorry – every round is special in its own way.

If you could be a caddie on Tour, whose caddie would you like to be and why?

I am not a Tour follower. I have no favorites. I love that Canadians are now on the Tour as Canada is a golf crazy country. I would enjoy a round with Corry Conners – down to earth lad.


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 50 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.