What’s new in golf technology?
Golfers can be all too aware of advances in technology when it immediately impacts their game. From fabric technologies to keep them cool, woods technology to elongate their drives, irons technology to improve accuracy and approach, ball technology to improve roll and feel, the list goes on and on. And when these advances are seen and felt on a tactile level, golfers not only know about these advances, but employ them to their advantages whenever possible.
But what about digital advances?
Many golfers will know about or use distance assessment tools like laser or GPS rangefinders, but there are a host of other digital technologies you might interact with or be impacted by in a given round. And, with some new ones coming onto the market, the impact of these technologies could be felt for years to come.
For courses that host tournaments, course superintendents often want to cordon off portions of the greens for weeks or months ahead of the event to ensure the best/hardest possible green conditions for the tournament.
In an anecdote shared in Golf Inc. Monthly, when Paradise Valley Country Club near Phoenix Ariz. is in such a situation, superintendent Rob Collins doesn’t manually remove those pin locations from the rotation — he uses ezPins.
ezPins is a new software product we developed in conjunction with Playbooks for Golf to pinpoint hole locations.
“It’s a much better system,” Collins said to Golf Inc. Monthly. “It’s terrific.”
Our ezPins software is designed to “help superintendents minimize pin placement mistakes and offer more choices to players. The mobile app provides golfers with exact locations. In addition, courses can print pin sheets, which can include advertisements that generate additional revenue,” as described in Golf Inc. Monthly.
For superintendents like Collins, the best feature might be the ability to restrict areas for designated periods of time. If a pin location or region needs to be taken out of rotation because of a tournament or shading or some other reason, ezPins places a digital circle around that pin, and over the specified amount of time, that circle gets smaller.
The software also can create a daily pin sheet staff can load into the golf carts each morning.
Bringing courses into the social media age
Another technology tool expected to hit the market soon is EZLinks’ Senalysis, short for Sentiment Analysis. Quoting again from Golf Inc Monthly:
It’s an online reputation management tool designed exclusively for the golf industry. While the technology is not yet available for licensing to individual courses, EZLinks is using it internally to manage social media for 250 courses, mostly public facilities.
“All of these golf courses are beginning to recognize social media exists, but none of them know how to deal with this, don’t have bandwidth to handle this, or they don’t have the software to handle the work,” said Ali Murdoch, chief client officer at EZLinks Golf LLC, which bought his Distinct Software Solutions in January.
Senalysis can manage online reputations both proactively, through campaigns to generate Tweets and Facebook likes, and reactively, through response to customer feedback.
All of a golf course’s online accounts — Facebook, Yelp, etc. — are synced to one log-in. Notifications or mentions of the course are flagged in an email-type format, and the user can respond from within the program.
What’s new about Senalysis is its ability to analyze the sentiment of comments using a golf dictionary, Murdoch said. For example, the word “albatross” can refer to a very rare bird, a metaphor for a curse or burden. But in golf it means three shots under par. Being able to recognize whether a comment has a negative or a positive sentiment allows users to easily identify how they need to react. The system also is able to learn from mistakes.
When available, a license for Senalysis will cost $150 a month.
Private clubs share in the spoils
Another and final digital tool of note comes from the world of private clubs designed to make golf operators’ lives easier.
ForeTees is in the final testing process for an app/platform targeting private clubs. Their current app/offering already allows club members to book tee times, sign up for events, and view statement; soon, golfers will able to order food as well. And, their custom software platform will also integrate into the club operations, allowing staff to receive food orders for both delivery to dine-in, and can communicate back and forth with members.
Even though the game of golf has remained largely unchanged over the years, the tools we use to play the game and manage the courses thereof are moving rapidly into a digital, technological future — that’s better for players, superintendents and the courses we hold so dear.