5 ways golf will look different in 2021 – and how your golf POS software can help you rise to the occasion
2020’s golfing season was, in many ways, one of the best yet. More people worked from home and spent less time commuting. They had flexible schedules and the work-from-anywhere culture became normal. People were craving “safe” outdoor activities, so many turned to golf, leading to “stacked tee sheets and crowded driving ranges”. It’s safe to say your operations team got a lot out of your golf POS software!
Unfortunately, tee times were much harder to find. For course operators and owners, regulations and new information were released weekly, giving them a challenge they had never seen before.
However, all things considered, the golf industry was able to adapt, pivot, and largely thrive during 2020. Plus, private clubs actually saw significant growth in members.
Now that we’re staring down the fairway at the opening dates of 2021, owners and managers are considering what might be the same and what might be different about this season.
As your golf operations team squares up to take this metaphorical approach shot, we’ll clear the sightline. Here are 5 ways golf will look different in 2021, and how a golf POS software system from GGGolf can help you get the most out of the season.
1. We’re poised to get a better start on the year
Last year, most courses could not open on time. Realistically, many did not open until late May.
In Quebec, once the provincial government announced that non-contact sports could resume operations as of May 20, a number of courses were scrambling to get ready. Many did not start booking tee times until June.
For 2021, golf operations managers will have an entire season’s experience dealing with the coronavirus-related restrictions and regulations. They will be ready, having gotten used to how to operate the course to be safe and compliant. Plus, they will have many measures already in place.
Cart dividers, touch-free mechanisms at the pins for ball retrieval, employee PPE, sanitizer, various safety signage, and so many more materials have been ordered or are in storage from the previous year and are in place for use right away.
Weather permitting, courses will be able to open on time and not lose out on so much spring revenue. Players will be chomping at the bit to book, as well.
2. Expect an even higher demand for bookings – is your golf POS software ready?
This is probably the most expected aspect of the 2020 season to carry over into 2021. You need to ensure that your golf POS software will be optimized to handle the nuances of this change to tee sheet management.
It should be noted that your players will be expecting this elevated competition for tee times, which may lead to elevated frustration. Now more than ever before, you need to have full confidence in your course POS software system to handle bookings in a fair, clearly communicated, and reliably organized fashion.
As we see case numbers subside, ideally clubs will be able to expand their tee time offerings. In the meantime, operations managers will do well to manage member/player expectations and communicate clearly about the club’s process and system for booking tee times.
GGGolf’s golf course POS software uses a weighted lottery system to ensure that member bookings are always fair. You can rest assured that when your members go to book their next time they will experience a clear, seamless, and professional booking platform.
3. Prepare to see more younger players & more new memberships
As mentioned above, clubs and courses experienced an influx of younger players out on the tee blocks last year. In fact, surveys at NextGenGolf.com showed “a growing desire among millennials to seek the benefits of the club lifestyle for their families.”
The National Golf Foundation noted that, 2020 saw an increase of approximately 630,000 new youth players and 570,000 new beginners in the United States.
4. Revenue from other club sources (ie. weddings, tournaments, restaurant) will continue to be low
The 2021 wedding season is quite likely to look like 2020’s, even if outdoor and indoor gathering limits are extended. Many couples will be choosing to continue to hold off on having their wedding due to uncertainty.
Alternatively, you may get requests for celebrations happening on much shorter notice. This could mean smaller attendee lists and smaller invoices at the end of the day.
In a similar fashion, there may be less tournaments (whether out of COVID concerns or businesses unable to justify the cost). And, of course, restaurants will be operating at a smaller capacity. Not every club has the infrastructure to handle patio dining, or properly spaced out table set-ups.
It would be prudent, therefore, to approach 2021 as though these other club revenue streams will continue to be low providers.
“I’ve created relationships with some members through the years,” [said Jim Vandette, the head pro and director of golf at Summerlea in Vaudreuil-Dorion], who has spent 25 years at Summerlea.
“To see them arrive, and then leave, is going to be different for me. It’s going to be quite the change as to the service aspect we’re accustomed to giving.”
— From article “It’s game on as local golf courses open under strict guidelines”,
The National Post, May 2020
Though it’s unfortunate that your golfers might not be able to grab a bite after their round as normal. Hopefully this is temporary and 2022 will be largely back to normal! Be prepared to pivot, but manage your expectations, as well.
5. Loyalty is up — golfers may be inclined to choose to play the same course throughout the season
It’s no secret that the core of success in the golf industry is loyalty. Your regulars are the backbone of your course. You relied upon them last year, and they relied upon you, as we navigated the unprecedented year together.
“Even before the pandemic, courses of all stripes have sharpened their focus on customer loyalty and service,” writes Tim Gavrich for NBC Golf Pass. “As a result, several types of golf club memberships have cropped up.” Loyalty will be in clear focus for 2021, whether via full private memberships or home course allegiance.
In 2021 many golf professionals are expecting to see golfers preferring to play their “home course” rather than branching out and exploring new courses. Check out this poll from Flagstick.com taken in April 2020. Will the 2021 season play out similarly?
“What we’ve learned is the importance and relevance of clubs is strengthened during emotionally challenged times,” said Michael Gregory, a partner at GGA. “What people are lacking in their lives, some clubs have found a way to really bridge that gap and provide an outlet.”
Loyalty is all about the emotional connection you make with your members. Be there for them, and they’ll be there for you.
GGGolf’s connection to Ackroo, an industry leader in customized loyalty programs for businesses of all sizes, means that you have access to a team of professionals dedicated to helping you further build your customer loyalty. Reach out to find out how we can help!
One thing is for certain — golf in 2021 will be in high demand. Are you ready to greet the season?
Using your golf POS software to optimize your pre-season prep is a no-brainer. Stay ahead of the competition, manage expectations professionally, and hit the ground running with GGGolf.