The Innovation Jump

By Jim Tatum, Golf Inc. Magazine

Courses are embracing technology at a faster pace, leading to even more innovation.

Technology long promised to drive golf courses to new heights. But for years, operators were slow to embrace change. The came the pandemic.

Forced to adapt, golf course adopted new technology at such a breathtaking pace that some say the traditional business model is now dead, replaced by a new faster-paced tech-driven one.

This transition could not have taken place without a host of new cutting-edge advances in golf technology. While the industry’s tech companies have been improving their offerings for more than 20 years, the pandemic and post-pandemic surge in play opened the doors to more companies and greater innovation.

“What remains unknown is the extent to which golf courses, historically latent adopters, will embrace the current wave of innovation,” said JJ Keegan, an industry strategist. “Online booking of tee times remains below 50%, even among the large management companies.”

But Keegan views this new wave of innovation as having great potential if adopted by progressive managers.

Here, we highlight 25 companies that are leading this new wave of innovation. Whether it’s tech that helps manage a tee sheet and minimize costs or tech that makes golfing more meaningful, operators are using it to enhance their businesses.

Many have found that technology can provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for players from the moment they enter the grounds to the moment they leave.

Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wisconsin, was an early adopter of technology. It was the first course to use Tagmarshal, which helps course operators manage the pace and flow of play.

“It’s all about data and analytics. If you don’t have it, you don’t know your golf course, and you’re leaving money on the table.” Jim  Lombardo, Director of Golf, Erin Hills

Tagmarshal introduced its Social Distancing Monitor in 2020 to help courses manage flow during the pandemic. Now renamed the Gap Time Monitor, it uses data collected from GPS-based tracking tags clipped to golf bags or from two-way screen devices in golf carts. The real-time information is delivered to attendants via the Tagmarshal dashboard, showing the distance and time between playing groups.

Each caddy that goes out with a group is given a small tracking device. It shows how and where people are walking.

“You can see where every group is and track how fast they are moving,” Lombardo said. “If they are slower than what it should normally take, then you can send a marshal directly out to them, rather than roam the course looking for them, and help them with whatever is holding them up.”

Lombardo said the information is useful in other areas of the operation as well. For example, the F&B people can see exactly when they will be busiest, based on where all the golfers are and how long it will take them to finish their rounds.

Lombardo said they have been able to track peak play periods, the time it takes to play, and other data, which is then used to refine their operation.

For example, data showed that pace of play on the course is faster prior to 11 a.m. With that data, Lombardo said, he was able to add two tee times per day.

While Gamble Sands and Erin Hills were early adopters, most courses are just starting to add such tech to their operations. Is there a learning curve for integrating technology?

Innovative management tools for owners and operators

With so much new technology, it can be mind-boggling to keep track of it all. Golf Inc., with Keegan’s help, grouped the most innovative technology into categories. From business management systems to marketing, pricing, merchandise and analytics, these tech tools are at the forefront of change.

For the full list of innovative management tools, read the full article here


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.