Education Series: Getting Golfers on Board with Your Pace of Play Policy
Pace of play remains one of golf’s hottest topics, with amateurs and pros alike quick to gripe about a slow round, whether or not that was actually the case.
A study by the NGCO found that 84% of golf course owners and operators list pace of play as a crucial factor in shaping perceptions of the player experience. From a player perspective, a recent USGA study found that 74% of golfers listed it as a key enjoyment factor.
Rounds continue on an upward trajectory, making the effective management of pace of play increasingly important, and there’s been a steady increase in the number of courses looking to use technology to better manage this critical element.
In order to improve your course’s pace and flow of play, you need members or guests to buy into your methods and policies. Here are 5 ways you can ensure your players are on board.
1. EDUCATE PLAYERS ABOUT WHY YOU’RE USING TECHNOLOGY
Your average golfer will have good and bad days on the course, which will obviously affect their enjoyment of their round, but another crucial part of that equation centers around being able to play at a reasonable pace without any bottlenecks and hold-ups on the course.
If players at your course can see that you’re using technology like Tagmarshal because you value their time and experience and are serious about creating a fair, data-driven pace of play policy, getting their buy-in will be far easier.
Rather than aimlessly patrolling the course and reacting once a problem has arisen, Tagmarshal gives operators full, real-time line of sight of the course so that they can accurately identify exactly which playing groups are out of position.
This improves course flow and also means that any interventions are not a ‘gotcha’ moment, but rather neutral, fact-based discussions based on data, that will benefit the entire field.
PRO TIP: Reframe your marshals as player assistants who are there to offer help to get groups back into position, as well as make their time on the course more enjoyable, while stressing that doing so effectively requires the aid of players or members.
2. RAISE AWARENESS AROUND PACE OF PLAY POLICIES
Once a course has formulated a pace of play policy, it needs to communicate that to golfers.
This policy should be clearly visible on the course’s website home page and social media posts highlighting the measures the course is taking in this regard can then link to the policy.
A newsletter that focuses on the course’s policy is also a great way to make sure that golfers are kept abreast of any changes.
PRO TIP: Implementing ready golf is advisable, but doing so effectively calls for additional awareness and education. Signage outlining how to safely play ready golf should be placed around the clubhouse and pro shop, as well as inside the locker rooms.
3. KEEP PACE OF PLAY FRONT OF MIND
In order to ingrain your pace of policy in your players’ minds, as well as the expectations around round goal times, regular reminders are essential.
Highlighting the month’s average round time in comparison to the desired average round time, whether via social media or newsletters, makes steady, incremental improvements something everyone can buy into.
Ensure each group is informed on the tee of what is expected from them and how they can stay in position, and have goal times clearly indicated on scorecards handed out. Signage at strategic points around the course reminding players of pace expectations, as well as at the halfway house and the clubhouse, further reinforces the policy.
PRO TIP: Show Tagmarshal’s Live Map on screens in the clubhouse and other prominent areas, giving players visibility of which groups are on pace or out of position and helping to maintain their awareness of this.
4. CELEBRATE SUCCESS
Golfers who consistently play quicker than the course’s desired round goal time, or average round time, should be celebrated. Regularly highlighting these pacesetters with an initiative like the fastest round of the month can serve as inspiration for others to effectively monitor their own pace.
Communicate these success stories through your monthly newsletters and social media channels, relying on GPS data to illustrate how players are responding to the pace metrics in place.
PRO TIP: Rewarding pacesetting players with prizes, like a free lunch and a round of beers at the clubhouse or discounts at the pro shop, draws positive attention to your policies.
5. HAVE PROCESSES IN PLACE TO HELP GOLFERS STRUGGLING WITH PACE
If there are players who continually fail to meet your pace targets, develop and communicate a process to deal with them, which also forms part of your well-publicized policy.
This could involve a call to the player from the course president, head golf professional or general manager after repeated transgressions, or a formal letter outlining how they’re not meeting expectations, with data to back this up.
Should the situation not improve, harsher measures like restricted access to tee times, or off-peak rounds only, may be needed.
PRO TIP: Disciplinary measures could also include questions about how your course might be able to assist with improving the golfer’s pace of play. Your head golf professional may consider offering advice, a coaching lesson, or even some tips on playing holes that often prove tricky.
Turning pace of play into an asset is a great way to set your course apart from others. Cultivating an environment where players actively support the measures the course is taking and can see the tangible benefits of doing so plays a pivotal role in the success of any policies.
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.