Golf Course Management Software: Why It’s Crucial that ISVs Get It Right

Owners are dealing with a new generation of golfers and facing new competition. ISVs need to deliver golf course management software that helps them keep their businesses in the black.

Today’s golf courses and country clubs are dealing with a wide variety of business challenges due to new competition and consumers’ busy lifestyles. “Bringing golfers to the course to play is extremely challenging,” says Justin Wolf, Director of ISV business development for First American Payment Systems. “People are busy, and there’s no time for a four-hour round.” Wolf adds that new competitors, such as Topgolf and similar facilities that make golf the centerpiece of parties or family experiences are also impacting golf courses’ bottom lines.

Club owners are responding by creating more convenient experiences for golfers and building new revenue streams. At the 2019 Golf Industry Show in San Diego, CA, Wolf spoke with many golf course owners who are looking for golf course management software that gives them the flexibility to put those new strategies into motion while enabling them to operate efficiently from a single platform.

What Club Owners Want from Golf Course Management Software

“Fully integrated golf course management software that can handle everything, including payment, is top on their list,” says Wolf. The applications you develop for this industry need to enable management and provide visibility into greens fees, the pro shop, online bookings, the restaurant — even mobile point of sale (POS) sales from beverage carts out on the course.

Golf courses also want software applications that provide their customers with greater conveniences, such as the ability to buy items online and pick them up at the pro shop; online tournament scoring, driving range scheduling, and restaurant reservations.

More and more, golf courses are adding e-commerce capabilities. “With online sales, not only golfers but also their family and friends can go online and purchase apparel or other merchandise as gifts. It opens the door to revenue from new customers,” says Wolf. “This is very big.”

Wolf adds that golf courses also want the ability to reserve tee times on their own websites, rather than use an online booking service that eats into their profitability.

“The more availability you give club owners through integrations, the more value your solution will have. Make sure golf courses can offer golfers everything under the sun and manage it through their software,” says Wolf. “Some ISVs are doing a great job with integrations, but some are still not there yet.”

Empowering Golf Course Managers with Mobility

Wolf also points out, “It’s typical for owners to own more than one golf course, and they’re open seven days per week. They need to have visibility into what’s happening at each location, whether it’s checking on a high school or college student running a beverage cart or making sure the pro in the pro shop is selling as well as booking services.”

With so much activity to monitor in so many different places, cloud software that gives owners mobility and central reporting for all sites and revenue streams is vital. “They’re looking for a simple way to track every sale and understand if they’re profitable,” Wolf says.

Integrate Payment with Golf Course Management Solutions

Golfers, like other consumers, want the ability to pay for goods and services in a variety of ways. Wolf says payment methods that are fast and easy are in greatest demand. “If 20 people are in line trying to get out on the course, the speed of payments is extremely important,” he says. “Contactless payments will be very attractive to golf courses.” He adds that the payment experience needs to be reliable, frictionless, and secure, whether it’s a card-present EMV transaction, a mobile POS sale, or an online payment.

Wolf comments that payments are handled quite differently at private clubs. “Many don’t accept credit cards,” he explains. “Their members fall into an older demographic, and these clubs charge by the month and often use ACH to automatically deduct the fee from a member’s account or send a bill for the member to remit payment by check. When a member wants to make a purchase, it’s charged to their account.”

He points out, however, that as today’s members pass their memberships onto their children or grandchildren, the types of payment transactions at private clubs will change. They will need the ability to set up recurring billing or to accept credit cards or other forms of payment — something that could create opportunities for ISVs in the coming years.

Adaptable Applications

Wolf says flexibility needs to be a key feature of golf course management software. If club owners determine that a new service or capability will help keep their businesses profitable, they want the ability to add it with a click — not wait months for development or a new integration.

Give your golf course and country club clients applications that are designed to help them expand their businesses and maintain their competitiveness. Your understanding of this industry — and delivering applications tailored to address its challenges — may position your ISV for growth as well. 

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Mike Monocello
The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.