Tagmarshal featured in August issue of PGA Magazine
Tagmarshal was recently featured in the August issue of PGA Magazine regarding its Pace of Play technology implementation at Erin Hills, site of this year’s U.S. Open. PGA Head Professional, Jim Lombardo, discusses the Tagmarshal system and the value it has added at Erin Hills.
Improving Pace of Play
PGA Head Professional,
Pace of play has long been a topic of discussion for golf course operators, and it has become increasingly important in recent years as modern golfers demand faster and more efficient golf experiences to fit life’s time constraints.
Erin Hills, site of this year’s U.S. Open, is walking only and boasts an extremely challenging golf course with rolling terrain and fescue-lined fairways. So facility operators, and golfers who venture to the Wisconsin destination (pictured), expect the round to be longer than the four-hour standard. However, pace of play is still vitally important to the facility – both in terms of delivering value to golfers and operational efficiency.
“Because we have caddies with roughly 95 percent of our groups, we were looking for a way to track the caddies and keep them on pace,” says Jim Lombardo, Erin Hills’ PGA Head Professional. “We researched full GPS systems and came across a company called Tagmarshal.”
Tagmarshal’s technology centers on small GPS locators, or “tags,” that can be carried by a caddie or attached to a golf car. The tag not only monitors a group’s whereabouts on the course, but also meticulously tracks pace of play relative to the rest of the on course groups and calculates average round times.
The captured data is output onto the screen of an iPhone, iPad or computer. Because caddies at Erin Hills are not permitted to take their phones on course, marshals are armed with iPads and are continuously monitoring the flow of play. Tagmarshal’s platform indicates when a group starts falling behind by highlighting them in yellow – they will turn red when they’re way behind pace. This allows marshals to precisely target the group that’s causing the slow play and go directly to the source of the problem.
“The marshals will pull aside the caddies in a slow group and ask them why they’re out of position. Once they know the problem, they can communicate and come up with a solution,” says Lombardo. “If you have a few slow groups out there, the system will identify exactly who those slow players are and we can go directly out to them. And the players behind them will see that we’re working on it.”
Before implementing the system in 2015, the average round at Erin Hills was 5:02. It’s now down to 4:52 – it was as low as 4:45 before U.S. Open conditions set in.
“We decreased our pace of play by 10 full minutes, which allowed us to gain one full tee time. Adding that one extra tee time – at a $280 green fee – for a foursome that’s over $1,000 in green fee revenue,” says Lombardo. “We’re open 170–175 days at 75–80 percent occupancy, so if you do that math you can see where there’s a significant financial impact over the season.”
The system also tracks each caddie by name, so Erin Hills knows which caddies average the fastest loop times. For daily-fee facilities, the system integrates with most tee time software and can track individual golfers, so facilities know who their fastest players are. More bells and whistles: Operators can monitor average times for each hole, revealing how certain hole placements or a new renovation impacts pace of play.
“It’s a great value to us,” says Lombardo. “For me to walk into the office and peer at my computer screen and in a matter of seconds know exactly how my course is playing, that’s value.”
This article was published in the PGA Magazine: