What does innovation mean to golf?
Some things feel almost impervious to the sands of time – for instance, public speaking (curse it!) hasn’t changed much in the last few hundred years. Sure, we’ve added visual aids, and music, and various gimmicks to make it more engaging, but the core skills of a great orator don’t really need improvement. Someone who could draw a crowd 150 years ago would likely still be able to draw a crowd today.
We’re golf. We don’t need to change with the times… Right…?
As caretakers of a sport that dates back to before the 1500s, those of us in the golf industry may find it tempting to draw the same conclusion about our beloved sport. What kind of innovation could possibly improve a game that has endured for hundreds of years?
But that’s the fatal sand trap (of time.)
In the early 2000s, there were 740 million cell phone subscriptions across the world. That sounds like a lot, but today there are over eight billion. That’s right… More cell phones are out there in the world than there are people on the planet.
As interesting as that is… what does this have to do with golf?
Disruptive technology is everywhere, waiting to change the course of human history. It happened when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007. It happened when personal computers came on the scene. No industry is safe from the inevitable impact of technology, and experts estimate the next ten years of innovation will bring an exponentially more impactful tech boom.
PGA TOUR announced in 2022 they had selected TrackMan as their club and ball tracking and tracing solution. This partnership highlights the exciting new capabilities of TrackMan’s solution (which can now track shots hit from the fairway, around the green, and even from behind the trees) and the irrevocable ways it will enhance the fan experience.
PGA Tour has also invested heavily in digitizing its footage, its oldest clips dating back to the 1928 LA Open. This process took ten years and generated 5.8 petabytes of data. (A petabyte is 1,000 terabytes, each of which is 1,000 gigabytes.) For reference, the standard iPhone today has 128 gigabytes of storage. Someone else can do the math on that, but either way, it all equals a huge impact on golf – both because of and through technology.
Golf – both the sport itself and the stewardship of it – will continue to change and evolve with the new technologies being developed, introduced, and utilized. Drivers and clubs are designed and released to address specific needs according to data that would not have been available even ten years ago. Golfers are learning with the help of technology how to improve their swing, or hit with more force, or achieve better aim.
So what does that mean for golf courses specifically?
There are a lot of interesting things out there right now that could improve a course’s guest experience – RoboGolfPro, for instance, is a system that trains golfers to reach their ideal swing. It relies on muscle memory and various data points (impact, direction, curvature, distance, and speed) to teach a golfer an improved swing that they can then replicate on the green. This is the kind of exciting technology that could help reach the younger demographics that many courses are trying to engage.
There are comfort-and-convenience-oriented innovations out there, too – Self-driving push carts to transfer clubs and bags are increasingly popular. Models like Club Car’s Tempo Walk Hands-Free Caddie have only recently become leasable to courses, but they’re being touted as a high-tech way to greatly increase the guest experience. Equipped with external sensors, these caddies can follow their golfer without any manual “driving.”
What if my course isn’t ready for expensive upgrades like that?
Not every course is ready to jump headfirst into swanky new hardware, and that’s okay as long as your guests are having the member experience you want for them. But if your course’s software is stuck under the sands of time, it’s going to get buried.
Make sure your guest experience is ahead of the tech game with foreUP:
- As the first cloud-based tee sheet and POS provider in the industry, we’re familiar with tech trendsetting.
- Our marketing platform comes pre-stocked with templates and campaigns to assist you in recruiting and engaging with golfers – no matter what hardware your course uses.
- foreUP Ad Services have proven ROI that will take your course to the next level of revenue – just sit back and let our advertising experts drive your bottom line upwards.
- We’re the fastest growing golf software in the industry. Find out why!
Click here to see how our powerful, user-friendly solutions will position your course on the right side of the hourglass.