5 key learnings from the USGA Golf Innovation Symposium – Measuring the player experience

5 key learnings from the USGA Golf Innovation Symposium – Measuring the player experience

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In the series of 5 Key Learnings from the 5th USGA Golf Innovation Symposium, at which the USGA set a challenge to the golf industry of reducing resource consumption and increasing golfer satisfaction, here is the 4th key learning:

  1. Measuring the player experience – what really matters?

What are the key factors that foster customer and player delight, loyalty and repeat play. New ground-breaking USGA research led by Professors Kris Schoonover and Eric Grey from the University of Wisconsin Stout leads the way. “We defined 1000 touch points in the golfer experience.”

The “Defining the Golfer Experience” research conducted by these two leading consumer journey and experience researchers looks at delighters and frustrators in the player experience.

“Pace and time are critically important to the overall golfers experience & satisfaction,” explained Professor Eric Brey, Professor & Chair in the School of Hospitality Leadership at the UW-Stout.  The research was scoped across: Experience Touchpoints, Time Influence and Golfer Satisfaction. “Time is more than pace,” stressed Brey, showcasing the time and pace segment broken down into 12 related metrics.

“We conducted extensive surveys and we used Tagmarshal to track and measure player movement, live pace and flow patterns at our research courses,” explained Kris Schoonover Associate Professor at UW-Stout and Director of Operations at 2017 US Open Hosts Erin Hills.

Credit: USGA Golf Innovation Symposium – Eric Brey and Kris Schoonover, University of Wisconsin-Stout

The research ranks touchpoints from negative to positive across the following classification attributes: Perfect Frustrater, Frustrator, Dissatisfier, Satisfier, Delighter.  

The study found that the key on-course frustrators include:
‘Other’s speed’ -1.000 Perfect Frustrater, ‘Corrective pace actions’ -1.000 Perfect Frustrator both showing the lowest overall score and key experience influence.  

‘Ranger / Marshal role’ and ‘Ranger / Marshal’ placement are generally low scoring with ‘Corrective pace of play actions’ the lowest scoring pace-related metric.
At the same time delighters include positive factors such as positive ranger etiquette at a top score overall at +0.966 and overall playing speed also ranking highly.

While there are a number of important experience touchpoints, it is evident that managing pace of play well, with appropriate etiquette, objective data and providing a positive flow and reduced play time has an immediate impact on player the player experience.

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Golf needs to evolve further. Its willingness to do so will determine its future. While tradition is part of the undoubted character and charm of the game, golf has shown that it can adopt change successfully. The stakeholders who shape the game of tomorrow are the players of the future, who demand flexibility, fun, high service-delivery levels, accessibility, inclusivity and for the game to fit with their available spend budgets, and importantly pace and flow experience and time budgets.

The future of golf delights its players, existing and new, it is quicker, mindful of time and a high value experience. Time to get to work!


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.