Building, maintaining and running a successful golf operation, while made simpler by using golf cart tracking technology, is no small feat. It requires a substantial amount of upfront capital, as well as funding ongoing costs.
With the surge in demand and golf now being recognized as the largest growing sport in the US, there is a real opportunity for well-run operations to capitalize on this and generate additional revenue.
According to the NGF, more than a third of the U.S. population older than 5 played golf (either on-course or off-course), watched golf on TV or followed online, read about the game, or listened to a golfing podcast last year.
To illustrate the growth of the game, a record 3.3 million people played on a golf course for the first time in 2022, shattering the previous record of 2.4 million back in 2000, when ‘Tiger Woods mania’ was sweeping the country.
Courses take years to design and bring to life, so the golf industry cannot increase supply by simply building new facilities. Instead, by embracing technology like golf cart tracking, courses can find ways to increase capacity, generating additional revenue at the same time.
Before investing in technology, operators want to know that they will see a positive ROI. Here are five ways your course can use golf cart tracking to drive revenue gains that will more than offset the cost of your system.
Research carried out by the NGCOA and USGA shows just how much of an impact pace of play has on the player experience, and why proactive management using golf cart tracking technology is so important.
If players are constantly being held up by bottlenecks on the course, they won’t enjoy their rounds. Systems like Tagmarshal allow for proactive pace management, so that your team can intervene before course flow is adversely affected.
Using the Live Map, which offers real-time line of sight of where every group is on the course, player assistants can be more targeted with their interventions.
In addition, Tagmarshal’s proprietary algorithm analyzes course flow using more than 10 dynamically calculated factors, calculating which groups are likely to cause delays and providing data that makes conversations with players neutral and fact-based.
“The ability to really hone in and be proactive before things get out of control has paid huge dividends for us, having those guests come back again.” Pat Stein, PGA, Director of Golf, Wild Rock Golf Club
A reduction in the average round time also means players have more time to spend at your facility, leading to increased spending at the pro shop and on food and beverages at the clubhouse.
Finally, when golfers enjoy their rounds, they are far more likely to return to play the course again. Turning first-time golfers into repeat players is a surefire way to fill up the tee sheet so that your course is operating at maximum capacity.
The easiest way to increase tee sheet capacity is to reduce the length of the gap intervals your course uses, but doing so without the ability to track and measure the impact this has, poses a risk to course flow.
Tagmarshal’s golf cart tracking technology shows the gaps between playing groups on the Gap Time Monitor, giving operators a clear picture of whether the intervals employed remain consistent throughout the day.
All of the data gathered by the system is fed into the Analytics Hub, where you can spot trends like certain times of the day that play quicker. This highlights opportunities to reduce intervals without compromising the player experience.
“Our improved pace means we have added extra tee times throughout the day, and using the data we are looking at shortening intervals to get a few more in. Based on what we have seen so far in our first year, we are expecting to make at least 10 times what we paid for the system.” Ben Wilson, General Manager, Willow Springs Golf Course
As player profiles are built out – whether it’s members at a private club or regular repeat players at a daily fee course – you can start assigning tee times based on historical data. During periods where intervals are tightened to add a tee time, such as midweek mornings, quicker players can be prioritized so that course flow for the rest of the day is not affected.
Similarly, your course can increase capacity and offer those same players the opportunity to play 9 holes late in the day, confident they will be finished by the time the course closes.
There are also ancillary revenue gains related to adding tee times, like food and beverage and pro shop purchases. At resort courses, adding tee times can derive huge revenue gains as players will often book on-site accommodation and make use of your facilities during their stay.
While improving pace of play with golf cart tracking can unlock additional tee sheet capacity, there is also the option to change your pricing model in response to increased demand.
Dynamic pricing, on the other hand, sees the price of a round shift in response to supply and demand in real-time, which is often impacted by factors that are outside of your control.
The pricing is controlled automatically using software and works best when your course can guarantee an enjoyable pace and flow of play, which is a factor you can control through proactive management.
“Between implementing dynamic pricing and bringing in Tagmarshal to improve pace of play – cutting nearly an hour off the average round time – Fieldstone is able to get more golfers on the course at pricing that better serves the bottom line.” Chip Hierlihy, PGA, General Manager, Fieldstone Golf Club
Achieving a positive ROI isn’t just about generating additional revenue, because reducing your costs with the help of golf cart tracking also plays a significant role.
Many courses that have embraced the use of technology have seen sizeable savings by significantly reducing the number of player assistants patrolling the field. Ben Wilson, General Manager at Willow Springs, recently revealed on a webinar that the course has saved $25,000 in its first season utilizing Tagmarshal by eliminating player assistants on certain days.
The Live Map can be accessed on the go across devices, so players assistants can keep an eye on pace while performing other tasks and only intervening when necessary, meaning one person can fulfill what were previously multiple roles. On courses using Tagmarshal’s 2Way 8inch screens, you can also send messages directly to players, rather than needing to drive out to that group.
“Tagmarshal allows us to utilize our team more effectively, working smarter, not harder, to manage the flow out on the course and it’s definitely saving us money.” Matt Kloppenburg, PGA, Director of Golf, Terravita Golf Club
Your superintendent team will also be able to operate far more efficiently, spotting gaps in the field using the Live Map. They can then carry out their tasks during the day, rather than after hours.
In addition, the Heatmap Visualization tool means your superintendent can identify which areas of the course have seen the most traffic, based on golf cart tracking. They will also have an aerial view of mow patterns, as well as the movement of staff and machinery. In this way, they can focus their labor hours and also cut costs in expensive areas such as irrigation and use of fertilizer.
If your course uses Tagmarshal’s golf cart tracking 2Way screens, there is a great opportunity to generate revenue through advertising.
An engaged and captive audience makes it attractive to advertisers, and your team can also make use of this to promote your own events and specials.
You have the option to sell the advertising space yourself or join the Tagmarshal Media network, where the process will be managed for you. Only high-quality advertisers will be chosen and you will retain approval rights.
“The ability to advertise has been a win-win, getting creative on how we use it as another way to get revenue back into the resort.” Pat Stein, PGA, Director of Golf, Wild Rock Golf Club
Courses can also opt for a jointly managed solution. Here, Tagmarshal manages and sells the ads, but you still retain control and the ability to sell your own ads.
Tagmarshal partners such as Arrowhead Golf & Grill in Michigan have managed to entirely offset the cost of the system by selling advertising, doing so within a few months of their season starting.
Ad revenue payments from Tagmarshal Media are made monthly and can reach as much as $10,000 per season.
Freeing up resources in the annual budget is often a tricky exercise and owners, operators and committees want to see proof that any additional costs are worth the spend.
Thankfully, using technology effectively has proven to be a major revenue generator time and time again, along with enhancing the player experience.
Optimizing every aspect of your operation so that you are maximizing revenue opportunities will help ensure that you are well-positioned to capitalize on golf’s continued popularity and generate a positive ROI.
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 30 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.