New GolfNow split payments features promises to turbo-charge the booking process

Obstacle to organizing and inviting removed

Among the hundreds of emails most of us receive every week, the golfers among us don’t mind sorting through an overflowing inbox as long as we know therein lies an invitation from a friend to play golf. Indeed, research on golf participation has shown the power of suggestion that golf invitations carry, and it stresses the economic value of making them happen more often. Logical enough, but how to go about it?

A brand-new “split payments” feature built into the GolfNow reservation platform stands out as a potential invitation-generating machine. It started out as a way to avoid requiring one member of a golf group to pay for all players upfront, expecting reimbursement later but knowing the risk of getting stuck with more than his/her fair share of the bill. As the product-development specialists at GolfNow worked to address that issue, it became clear that their solution could significantly change the whole dynamic of golf booking.

After a pair of market tests in Orlando and Phoenix, the new feature is rolling out nationwide and earning high marks from users.  The booking process is intuitive and easy, with the group organizer able to move through a sequence of digital steps, and also see what the invitees see, as the process zips along and all participants respond and engage.

Those group “captain” types have always been vitally important to the golf industry. Along with gratitude for the important function these proactive golfers fulfill, there’s been empathy for the pre-payment burden they’ve endured. Meanwhile, having one person in a foursome habitually handle tee-time purchases has kept that player’s friends once-removed from databases. Course operators, along with tee-time distributors, have long wished to capture contact and spending data on those people. So, a service devised to make life easier for the organizers has also made it easier for everyone to become digitally visible.

A service devised to make life easier for the organizers has also made it easier for everyone to become digitally visible.

“Our work on this feature started with feedback from golfers,” explains Jonathan Oster, Manager of Platform Services at GolfNow. “We became very aware that people would get over their hesitancy about booking through our platform if they didn’t have to front the money. Meanwhile the players who were accustomed to pre-paying their friends’ green fees were enthusiastic about avoiding that responsibility, if it were at all possible.”

Payment-splitting apps—for housemates paying bills, tour groups paying travel expenses, etc.—are filtering through the economy, so golf surely stood in need of one. The fact that the split-payments feature from GolfNow also opens up a new wave of users to start the booking process makes it an elegant solution. But it goes even a step further, increasing the number of golfers who are “touched” by the game-arranging process on an everyday basis. That’s because the program allows or even encourages one person’s golf invitation to go out to more than three others, in the time it takes to enter a few email addresses (or select them from a drop-down) and click “Invite.”

Certainly, organizers have always found themselves casting about among five or six friends to find three who wanted to play, but the call-to-action this GolfNow feature shoots out can turbo-charge that outreach—and greatly improve the likelihood of more than one tee time getting booked by a particular pod of golfers.

“We’re projecting that the ease of use on the feature will prompt three ‘Yes’ answers that quickly book the 9:15 time and then several more that come in right behind to book the 9:30 time,” says Oster. “That’s incremental business for courses, driven by technology that removes friction from the process.”

More and more golfers taking the initiative to set up a round, and larger numbers of other golfers being contacted by that organizer, through a quick and easy online process—that can’t be anything but good for the game and the industry.

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