Scottish Golf hopes to provide it’s 500 plus member clubs with a comprehensive booking system, which enables them to retain all of their green fees instead of paying commission to outside agencies.
The golf governing body proposed the new digital booking system at a conference on the future of the game in Scotland last December.
The new system will include a phone app which will act as the main point of access for ‘nomadic’ golfers – those who choose not be a member of a club but take advantage of cut-price green fees to play wherever they like. In essence, the new system will remove the middle-men and thus enable golf clubs to control and retain 100% of their green fees.
Scottish Golf has been overwhelmed by the high level of interest shown by golf clubs. It had expected to get 50 clubs willing to sign up or consider installing the tech, but those interested was more than 300, according to chief executive at Scottish Golf Andrew McKinlay.
“We thought we could get the software into a few clubs and start rolling it out, expanding on word of mouth. In fact we have more than half our clubs interested already,” he said.
At first the new system will piloted in “five to six” clubs, it will then be gradually rolled out to those clubs that wish to do so. “A number of clubs won’t be able to take it yet because they have commitments with other companies,” McKinlay said.
“We’ll start working on a pilot basis, get feedback where there are issues, then we’ll start rolling it out in the summer. I’d be delighted by the end of the year if we had it in 100 clubs, that would be a huge success, and that’s something to aim for,” he added.
Before the system can go live a minimum of 50 clubs, with a wide geographical spread, need to be signed up and operating on the app for pay-to-play golfers. “You’re only going to get one hit with many of these people so it’s got to be right,” continued McKinlay. “I wouldn’t like to put a time on that, maybe back end of this year.
“It has to be something that’s easy for them or they won’t like it. Also, we’ve got to prove out product. That’s our big challenge at the moment, but a fantastic challenge to have.
“The software is free to clubs but it’s still being paid for through the membership fee, but they’re currently paying for systems so it’s a saving for them. The affiliation free has made developing it much easier, so the plan is in three to four years we’ll have a different funding model.
“I’m not saying we wouldn’t have sportscotland or membership funding but we’d be less reliant on it. I think governing bodies in general get a reputation for maybe a lot of talk and not enough action, but I think people left the conference thinking `they actually have something here.’
“There is an attitude of `what to Scottish Golf do for us’ and it’s it’s for us to shout what we offer, obvious things like helping clubs market themselves to potential members, savings on energy usage, help focusing on juniors, on girls and women, on environmental, and on handicapping. But we need to reach out to the club golfer because they’re still sceptical about what we do for them.”