Where to find the easiest new streams of revenue? Your website.

Here we are a good 20 years into the internet revolution and many golf courses barely have their toes dipped in the digital water. True, virtually all operations have a website, but there is a big difference between merely having a website and having an effective website that works for you. In today’s competitive landscape, golf operations need to be focused on creating multiple streams of revenue and your website is central to that goal.

For Justin Bolton, a Plus specialist lead for GolfNow, helping customers get there often requires first dealing with a common refrain: “‘Our website is working fine, why change?’ I hear that a lot. It’s the old dog that doesn’t want to learn new tricks challenge. So it’s up to us to show the value of upgrading their website.”

For Bolton, the first step in helping the customer forward along the path is to show what the competition is doing. It usually isn’t difficult to find a competitor that may be taking away some business because it’s doing things more effectively, he said. “Seeing how the big MCOs maintain their websites also can be a persuasive example for most customers,” Bolton added. “They respect what the bigger companies are doing and that their websites are not just about tee times, but also for driving online shopping, coupons, booking lessons and tournaments, e-gifting and lead generation – all multiple streams of revenue that they aren’t capturing – then they become more open to modernizing their websites.”

At the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, GolfNow introduced its new tiered website offerings that make it easy for a golf operation to transition from where they are to where they should be in today’s marketplace. The response has been gang busters, Bolton said.

With three tiers – or hierarchies – of websites available, golf courses can match the functionality and amount of support to their comfort level. But regardless where they land, they are going to find an ease of use that hasn’t existed before. “This is drag-and-drop simplicity,” Bolton said. “You used to need at least a little bit of coding experience to manage your website. Not here. With our Toolkit you can manage it yourself. However, with more functionality, most of our customers choose to let our Plus team handle the online management of inventory, branding and marketing. They find it more valuable to their operation to concentrate on running their businesses while we serve as an extension of their staff and focus entirely on their website.”

Should a course partner want to step in at the first tier, they receive a responsive website that works on desktop and mobile, and includes:

  • Multiple store options
  • Professional images and features
  • Booking engine
  • Analytics integration

Analytics — being able to track user behavior on the website and measure the effectiveness of content — is where most legacy websites fall painfully short, according to Bolton. “We have a lot of analytics built into these new platforms. We can easily monitor where the user is going on the site, where he is clicking, and we have heat mapping to capture what is effective. With all of this knowledge we can make data-driven decisions to get the highest conversion rates possible.”

Those conversions mean increased revenue through traditional channels like tee times but also the new streams available through online shopping. Online stores and e-gifting are two areas where Bolton’s Plus team is seeing incredible interest and growth. “E-gifting is a simple app. If you’re a course partner with the ability to offer e-gifting, someone can buy a bucket of range balls or round of golf for a friend and that friend with the app can come in and cash it out at the course.”

For online stores, Bolton says offering multiple solutions is the key. “We can set up a turnkey custom apparel store in no time. Through our relationship with a third-party supplier, we can do custom-logoed apparel with top brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. Everything is handled by us and our supplier. The course has a store stocked with terrace custom-logoed apparel and collects 10 percent of sales. They don’t have to do anything but cash the checks.”

‘Our website is working fine, why change?’ I hear that a lot. It’s the old dog that doesn’t want to learn new tricks challenge. So it’s up to us to show the value of upgrading their website.

But what if the course partner isn’t interested in e-gifting or custom apparel and just wants an online pro shop? “We can do that, too,” Bolton said. “Every course is different. Sometimes they want just one of these offerings, sometimes they want it all.”
Those operations that want what has become two of the hottest online functions for their website — Player Lessons and Tournament Registration — will have to step into one of the top two tiers.

“We have received a tremendous response to our Player Lessons and Tournament Registration features,” Bolton said. “These are only available on Plus and Plus Private websites, and they do anything and everything you could hope for. Totally automated, seamless and very user-friendly. From promotion, emails, payment collection, checking the customer in and out, these two features do it all. They also make it very easy to run tournaments and events, and do more lessons.”

The Plus tier and Plus Private tier also add a number of other functions and features like Google calendar integration, enhanced social media presence, aerial video and photography package and landing and opt-in pages, which are extremely valuable tools for lead generation and building email databases. Plus Private offers an additional focus on amenities (golf, tennis, spa, dining).

If nothing else, Bolton wants golf operations to realize that generating the all-important additional streams of revenue is not that difficult anymore. “It doesn’t matter where your comfort level is as an operator,” he said. “We have multiple solutions, whether you’re a DIY kind of operation, you want a little support or you’d prefer to do what you do well and let us handle the heavy lifting. Your website can start opening up new streams of revenue.”

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