Reinforcing a booking network through partnerships

Behind the Scenes, New Initiatives to Leverage Demand

The big-picture view of modern tee-time selling includes three basic ingredients: public-access courses, the golfer population and—quite often—a full-service technology platform for promoting and selling. Supporting efforts by its partner courses to attract and book players is indeed what a company like GolfNow is all about. But as the digital machinery for driving play and revenues gets more refined, there’s more that can be done by reaching beyond the basics and tapping new resources.

That’s the strategy behind several new alliances forged by GolfNow in recent months, without much fanfare but with a keen eye for the added value these affiliations can deliver to course operators. In a flurry of late-spring activity, GolfNow announced partnerships with the tee-time booking platform GolfBook, another with Montreal-based Chronogolf and a third with the innovative technology company 18Birdies.

It’s part of an effort to build partnerships across what is truly a global industry.

“As a progressive company, we look for others who share our passion for connecting golfers to the game, and for making golf more easily accessible to the millions who are expressly interested in taking up the sport,” explains Will McIntosh, executive vice president, Strategy, Golf Channel. “Integrating our partners’ capabilities into the GolfNow platform is an example of how we’re building partnerships across the industry to strengthen technology offerings, which better serve golfers and our mutual golf course customers.”

For course partners of GolfNow, the integration with the GolfBook platform is good news. According to McIntosh it will “provide more visibility for the thousands of tee times our golf course partners offer every day.” With Chronogolf, the collaboration is about languages and about regions mostly outside U.S. borders. More than 500 courses currently use Chronogolf’s innovative operational software, which is available not just in English but also in French, Spanish and Italian. Chronogolf is considered among the fastest-growing of all companies providing innovative tech to golf courses and, as McIntosh notes, “will be an important partner with GolfNow’s operations in Canada and Europe.”

Since launching in 2016, 18Birdies has become the fastest-growing golf utility app. Its features includes a GPS rangefinder for more than 35,000 courses worldwide, score, round, side-games and stat tracking, plus other content and social sharing. Golfers within the 18Birdies community seeking to book a tee time online are able to search through available tee times via the “Book Now” integration with GolfNow.

The strategic alignment that these agreements create certainly gets noticed out in the field by those who engage daily with course partners. Erin McCarthy, who handles six states along the Gulf Coast plus the Florida Panhandle as a GolfNow area sales director, said “I’ve been with the company for eight years and what stands out for me is seeing new initiatives that further add to the marketing power we bring our course partners.”

Some consultants and writers would file the recent GolfNow bridge-building under the heading of “co-opetition.” In the late 1990s co-opetition emerged as a widely discussed business concept, deemed a natural by-product of economic globalization and all the specialized knowledge arising within any given field or value chain.

Several hot-selling business books celebrated the idea, in which, as one described it, “companies in the same market work together in the exploration of knowledge” and in executing the knowledge and skills already attained. The case of a U.S. and an Asian automaker collaborating on design of a new engine is considered prototypical, but in the golf tee-time and course business-development realm it’s turning out to be a sophisticated and valuable tool, as well.

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