Up here in Maine, fall has set in and the golf season is quickly fading away. Southern areas of the country have a few more months of play, but our time is just about done. Luckily, I get to play to the very end of the season. A couple of weeks ago that included a golf tournament at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland, Maine. I play a lot of golf, but most of it is at my home course. So, seeing the technology in place at another course was very interesting, and exciting. For many of the readers, who play golf, what I am about to write about will be no surprise, but I encourage you to think about the business reasons for deploying the technology.
At Val Halla, every golf cart has a built in screen, underneath the roof of the golf cart. This amazing screen has several uses. The first and most obvious use is for GPS of the course. The screen shows you where you are on the course and the various distances (distance to green, distance to hazards, etc.). For the golfer, this is critical information and it is very convenient to have it right in front of you, rather than having to take out some other piece of tech to get this information.
Business value: Provides value to the customer, draws them back to the course.
A second use of the screens is for advertising. On the day that I played, it was a fund raiser for the local Chamber of Commerce. A local company, Jones-Rich-Hutchins were the sponsors for the day. Every third hole or so, the screen would show their logo, website and telephone number. Compare this repeated advertising with the typical sign at most tournaments. Most tournaments have a sign about the size of a political sign, on the first hole that announces their main sponsor. This is clearly a step up in getting people to sponsor such fundraising events.
Business value: Customers are more likely to be willing to sponsor an event. Coordinators of the event will be more willing to use your golf course for this reason.
Reason 2.5 is advertising again, but a bit of a different way. Obviously, every day there is not a tournament. But there are people playing golf every day, and companies that want to advertise to them. An obvious first potential advertiser would be any local golf shops. This could include the local pro shop, online sites or larger corporations that are golf shops. Like any digital signage, the advertisements can be targeted towards certain customers depending on the time of day, or day of week. Is it women’s twilight league night? Then you would advertise specifically to women. A weekday, mid day? You would likely advertise to people who are retired and able to play golf at that time.
Business value: The golf course can recoup some of the expense of installing these monitors, but selling advertisements. Because the screens are touch screens, they can also get metrics on how many people reacted to their advertisement in some way.
A final, but far last, use of the technology is to order food and communicate with the club house. It is very common at golf courses to have traditional signage on the ninth hole, that has information on ordering food for the back nine. These instructions include a small menu and a number to order. The hope is to keep the speed of play going. At Val Halla you can order this food over the screen. A full menu is listed, and you can choose what you want by using the touch interface. Additionally, the GPS in the monitor senses where you are on the course and shows you the menu when you get closer to the clubhouse. Presumably, it could also determine how busy the golf course is, and how busy the restaurant is, and show you the menu earlier or later depending on those factors. Finally, the communication with the club house allows you to request items you may have not thought of. Did you leave without enough tees for the day? Have you had a bad day and are running out of golf balls? Press a button on the touch screen and you can send a message to the clubhouse for them to send it out.
Business value: The clubhouse gets to sell more of its inventory, and the customer gets immediate service when needed.
The point of this month’s column is not just to point out some cool technology on the course. Rather, it is a continuing reminder that if you want to grow your business you need to think about creating value for your customers and for your customer’s customers.