Setting Up A Digital Plan and Trusting The Team
In Part 2, we found two primary takeaways from a course that is embracing the technological change. Before revisiting these two takeaways and expanding further, let’s revisit the premise of this series.
We’ve learned that golf has been slower to adopt technology than other industries and this hesitation may be affecting the golf’s growth as a whole. We’ve learned that much of the technological advancements has taken place on the consumer side of golf—like clubs, golf balls, apparel, training technologies, etc. We haven’t seen much advancement on the operations end of technology adoption. How do we know this? We know for several reasons:
- Golf facilities, on average, invest less than 1% of revenue on technological infrastructures each year whereas more mature technology-focused markets spend about 3% – 5% on average.
- The technology available to golf operators is far-less mature than what is seen in other industries—meaning there are very few turnkey technologies that solve general problems for Superintendents, Golf Pros, and GMs (however, we are beginning to see this change).
- We’ve simply heard from Supers and Golf Pros directly through our conversations. There is a realization that golf technology is on the move, yet operators are okay with continuing their daily operations as is. It’s essentially the “don’t fix what’s not broken” mentality. For most, but not all.
Yet, what we believe is hindering the adoption of new technologies is Golf’s relationship with Uncertainty as we described in Part 1. The way to embrace Uncertainty is to know HOW to effectively implement changes that will ultimately help the golf course.
In Part 2, we interviewed Jim at Maverick Time Golf Club (MTGC) on how he has been leading change at the course. The two takeaways in this article were:
- Find a ‘Jim’—meaning, someone either on staff or a club member with technology integration knowledge that can take on a 1 or 2-year course-wide project.
- Setting the culture: The mindset on overall course efficiency must be a driving force and not simply a passive interest.
Our follow up continues with two additional takeaways that has made Jim successful in leading the direction at MTGC.
Get a 3 and/or 5-year plan in place.
In our conversation with Jim, he described how he did an audit of the technologies at MTGC. With a baseline knowledge of where the course was at 2018, he and the Tech Committee decided to structure goals on where they would like to be in 2020 and 2023. As Jim explained, there were two critical components to shaping the courses future goals. “We had in mind two objectives to accomplish, improving the overall member experience and getting a better return on club assets.”
To do this, we needed to figure out a digital network that could be the eco-system for all incoming technologies. Jim explained that they were looking at things like wifi (which they are currently using with extreme on-course limitations), cellular, and LoRaWAN as possibilities but have yet to solidify which network. According to Jim, once they solve for this first issue, knowing which technologies to implement on the course will become clearer.
The Tech Committee has final say on what is implemented.
“Everyone will have opinions,” mentioned Jim, “and you are generally dealing with very smart people with valid concerns. Implementing this type of process is a delicate balance of knowing when to take considerations, and when deliberations are going too far.” Jim mentioned that everyone who has concerns must recognize that all decisions will be made by the Tech Committee and the Committee will need support from the course.
Feedback and education, there is an initial process of educating the board members, and other committees, etc. Once the plan is written up, a logical next step is to discuss the plan and the goals at the next board meeting and figure out collectively how [we] will manage the process moving forward. “This conversation is more about education rather than understanding everything in the plan” said Jim. “Trust that people are smart and that they’re going to get it. Let’s put together a set of metrics and understand how this thing would work.”
The 4 takeaways laid out by Jim are a blueprint for other courses to model. The impact of having a Technology Committee as the driving force for change at MTGC is a simple catalyst that signals an embrace of Uncertainty and a collective group effort to change the status quo. It’s a small ripple that can have great upside for their course and the game of golf.