Golf Digest reporter Christoph Niemann reported in 2009 that his friend helped him save $20 off
a round of golf using online booking. In 2009, many industries had already started transitioning
to an online model for booking and orders, but golf was much slower to the game. Very quickly,
however, golfers everywhere started to realize that they could save a great deal of money by
buying their tee times last minute, at discounted rates, online. Niemann reported later, for example, that he found a 20% discount by using GolfNow.
Golf reservation tradition relies on calling up a course and reserving a tee time. This is despite
the global move toward e-commerce and digital reservations. For whatever reason, golf courses
have been surprisingly slow in moving toward online tee time. This seems to be in spite of
customer support for the industry. In 2013, 14% of rounds were booked online, with many golf
courses dragging their feet in adopting web-based solutions.
That number, however, is a 25% increase from the year before. This clearly signals a move
toward digital reservations for golf courses nationwide. Early online bookings, however, were
plagued by far too many choices, with wildly inconsistent prices. Business models were based on auctions, last-minute discount deals, and only sometimes direct booking.
Finding the right place to go for booking used to be a major obstacle, and part of the reason
switching to online management took so long in golfing. That’s why, starting from the mid-
2010s to today, golf management service providers have amped up their game, and started
providing superior services using convenient, user-friendly systems to improve their customers’
experiences. The industry has standardized in a way that removes the ambiguity of 2009 golf
booking and makes it much more uniform across platforms.
As EZLinks CEO Gary Cohen put it, in an interview with Forbes, “there haven’t been great
places for people to go online.” he says.
Most third-party golf sites are harder to use and not as supportive to the golfer. Online access is a lot more important to businesses in other industries; less so in the golf industry. Fixing that is a lot of what we're trying to do here. We will provide more times for golfers, more locations and more access.
Things are changing, though, as more and more golf management platforms take off. These
platforms, like foreUP, even provide discounted tee times to customers, along with a host of
other benefits like marketing campaigns and booking resales.
Golf Management Systems
Booking software is a growing niche market and is taking over golfing everywhere. It’s easy to see why: the range of features in a golf management system adds value to your business beyond being a convenient location for time and booking storage. Management systems offer benefits like:
- Simplified booking by letting customers handle their own reservations without needing to call.
- Providing information in an easy-to-use format. This is a much more efficient system than having customers call and reserve from a paper schedule.
- Making it easier to handle cancellations by allowing customers to cancel online or sell spare time.
- Online, 24/7 portal access for customers.
Much like every other industry these days, not going online will only lose you money. 13 million
rounds were booked on GolfNow alone in 2014. Golf club manager Dave Tessman adds about
management systems, “They have wide-reaching fingers. It’s a big plus because they got new
people to come out to the course.”
Despite the obvious benefits, golf industry heads are still somewhat lukewarm about the transition, as NGCOA CEO Mike Hughes implies:
Our viewpoint is these companies exist and are going to exist, and it’s important for golf course owners to make their own decisions. But our role is to provide education so they can make informed decisions. That’s what we are trying to do with the guidelines.
It’s not altogether surprising that Mike was so skeptical, however, as early web-based solutions
varied wildly in pricing. NGCOA has worked to regulate prices across the board for golf courses
everywhere. It helps too that the software’s also gotten better.
Terry O’Leary of the Southwind Golf Club also added that “My mindset was if there is an
opportunity to barter and receive services like GolfNow’s marketing platform it was worth the
trade-off,” adding that 60% of bookings came from online in 2015.
Management systems like foreUP provide a central hub for your tee sheets and time
management. These sheets act as a central location for viewing all available, and sold-out, times
for your course. Even using traditional booking methods works well with foreUP, as it provides
an easier solution for managers booking your customers.
Enter foreUP, the industry’s leading brand for golf management solutions. foreUP is a versatile
system that integrates into your golf course and combines all major booking functions into one
package. foreUP allows mobile, web-based booking on any device, as well as 24/7 portal access
for your customers.
There are a range of features foreUP offers that can grow your business, just as much as it helps save you money. Facebook is integrated into the foreUP platform and customers can invite their friends to foursomes, spreading your course by word-of-mouth.
The foreUP experience is as user-friendly as possible, with features like:
- Click-and-drag booking.
- Email confirmations.
- Near-instant booking.
- Quick data retrieval for your customers.
- Easy-to-use tee sheets.
foreUP provides an online portal for your business that gives you access to a wide range of
features. You can set prices, discounts, and special deals available to customers whenever they
book. These features, and more, will simplify your management experience, and help grow your
foreUP offers a suite ranging from a POS system to tee time, as well as a range of other features
to enhance your customers’ experiences. There’s even a food and beverage option for catering.
Though the transition was slow at first, it’s clear now that the future for golf management is a
technology-based management system. Web-based marketing, sales, booking, and time-
management are the way forward, and refusing to budge will only cost your business money and
customers. Don’t waste time – switch today!