GOLFNOW SEES RAPID ADOPTION OF PRE-PAID TEE TIMES BY GOLF COURSES
Golf Course Operators call it a “Necessity for Doing Business”
ORLANDO, Fla. (May 1, 2020) – It’s anything but “business as usual” for golf courses that continue to reopen across the United States. Faced with a new environment due to the adherence of social-distancing protocols during COVID-19, many golf courses are turning to the practice of pre-paid tee times in order to welcome back golfers to a safer playing environment.
When the majority of state mandates on golf began rolling out in mid-March, GOLFNOW began offering both its partner courses, as well as any non-partner course, that remained open the opportunity to switch – at no cost – its entire online inventory to pre-paid.
“Over the past year, GOLFNOW has been continually innovating our payments technology and we were quickly able to pivot to meet the increased demand of providing pre-paid tee times,” said Jeff Foster, senior vice president, GOLFNOW. “Now, more than 500 courses are either offering a pre-paid option or have signed up to implement the GOLFNOW technology, a number that continues to grow as more states are opening back up and golf courses start to come back online.”
“Warm weather got here early and just about every activity besides golf was banned,” says Jon Phillips, general manager and co-owner of the 27-hole Beekman Golf Course, located outside Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “We held a meeting to figure out how we could handle the demand while keeping ourselves safe and the golfers safe. Having every staff member picking up the same phone and having golfers coming into the shop for check-in were clearly unsafe practices. We found a way to avoid both.”
GOLFNOW technology allowed Beekman’s skeletal staff to funnel golfers from the parking lot to the first tee while maintaining social distancing and preventing people from touching objects and surfaces others had also touched.
“I keep thinking about the 1,500 calls we get every week in the summertime,” says Phillips. “If we can stick with our payment policy – now that customers are getting in the habit – we can get eliminate the majority of our phone calls each week, which would make running our business 100 times simpler and improve the level of service we provide.”
Tim Jenkins, general manager of the Country Club of Arkansas, realized early on in February that standing in the shop loading 16-digit card numbers and expiration dates into the computer, with the phone ringing constantly, was clearly not viable.
“We brainstormed for every idea we could think of, until we had an operating format that we felt would ensure safety. Central to that was payment in advance online.”
Jenkins reached out to GOLFNOW to ask about installing the prepay feature and within 48 hours the requirement was built into C.C. of Arkansas’s account. He and his team used their voicemail greeting to explain this new approach and echoed that with plenty of signage—including tournament-style placards on the golf carts with each player’s name and their tee time. When golfers showed up they found the cart key—disinfected— already in the ignition, plus any beverage or merchandise items they had ordered online.
“Our golfers were more than okay with prepayment,” reports Jenkins, who heard thankful responses to the stocked and staged golf carts. “People would walk over and see name, see their beer, their range balls, and whatever else they asked for, and they’d be tickled.
“Think about it,” he says. “How often do our customers fly into an airport, walk past the rental car counter and go straight to their vehicle? I’m going to guess that’s how they do it every time. It’s only golf that was still doing things the old way.”
GOLFNOW is an innovative technology company that creates seamless ways for golfers and golf courses to better connect. GOLFNOW operates the largest online tee-time marketplace in the world, offering 3.5 million registered golfers a variety of ways to stay connected to their favorite courses and the ability to easily book tee times online and via mobile devices any time of day. GOLFPASS members receive special playing perks through GOLFNOW, including tee time credit and rewards, with GOLFPASS+ members benefiting from waived booking fees, cancellation protection and 25% more rewards points. GOLFNOW is an extension of the GOLF Business Solutions’ suite of digital businesses, owned by NBC Sports and managed by GOLF Channel. With offices in Orlando, Fla., and Belfast, Northern Ireland, GOLF Business Solutions also provides technology, support and marketing services to more than 9,000 golf courses in 24 countries around the world.
-NBC Sports Group-
GOLF Channel Communications