Every Monday and Thursday we will update the GOLFNOW Industry Report to keep you up to speed on which areas of the UK are opening up for visitor play, where we are seeing highest demand for tee times and how visitor rounds are performing year-on-year. In the report you’ll find course openings and visitor bookings since golf reopened in England on 13 May.
The UK has experienced very favourable weather over the last couple of weeks, with above average sunshine, and a lack of rain helping boost the golf played as we move towards the end of the main golfing season.
The Southern region of England had another strong week, finishing +358%YOY for total online visitor rounds
Visitor rounds across all booking engines and GOLFNOW were up +268% YOY yesterday. An additional 9,800 rounds played
The last 7 days have seen an increase of +193% YOY, or an extra 40,678 rounds
MTD we are pacing +80% YOY, with an additional 111,596 rounds played.
Lancashire was the top performing market yesterday with visitor rounds +2755% YOY
Lancashire was the top market for rounds played yesterday with 885 rounds played
To make the most of this demand for visitor golf please contact our Account Management team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Freephone Number 00800 780 88888
Through BRS GOLF, clubs in Scotland have generated an incredible £49 million in direct visitor and Open green fee revenue. That’s seven million visitor rounds and one million Open rounds booked using our technology on which clubs collect the full amount. And thanks to our Members’ Booking App and Module, 110,000 Scottish club members have been able to book 17 million rounds at the touch of a button.
Since the first Scottish club came on board with BRS GOLF in 2007, our tee time management and booking technology has helped to promote and enhance the great game of golf within the borders of its ancient home. Over 10 years later, our relationship with clubs in Scotland endures and improves.
In 2018 the number of Scottish clubs signing up to receive the tremendous benefits and customer service offered by BRS GOLF continued to increase. These included a wide variety of club sizes and types, such as members’ clubs Belshill, Eastwood, Braehead, Jedburgh, Fort William and Whiting Bay; 9-hole courses like Cupar, and proprietary courses like Machrihanish Dunes, and the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre. In addition, late in the year we signed agreement with all seven courses in the Fife Golf Trust, built upon the existing work we have done with Ayrshire Council courses over the last few years.
And it’s easy to see why clubs in Scotland trust the most widely installed booking system in the UK and Ireland:
Through our affiliation with Teeofftimes and GOLFNOW we have helped clubs supplement their direct bookings revenue through effective dynamic pricing that pushes local and international visitors to book at quieter times while protecting members’ preferred tee times. Since 2007 BRS GOLF has managed £96 million in bookings for clubs in Scotland, of which £16 million was generated in 2018 alone.
In the last year we have enhanced our products by adding a Members’ Booking App, an integrated Payments solution and an iPad tee sheet so you can stay up to date on what’s happening on your course anytime, anywhere. And BRS GOLF has a number of exciting new product announcements on the horizon in 2019.
We continually invest in not just our technology offering, but the promotion of golf in Scotland too, pouring hundreds of thousands of pounds into marketing Scottish clubs each year.
Is 9-hole golf the future of the sport? Hard to say for sure without our crystal golf ball, but recent research from BRS GOLF by GOLFNOW shows there is a definite upward trend in the number of golfers opting to play nine. Last year over 1.4 million 9-hole rounds were booked across the UK & Ireland using BRS GOLF technology, up from 1.2 million in 2017 and 976k in 2016.
This increase in rounds is not just thanks to purpose-built 9-hole courses, but 18-hole courses offering the option to play nine holes as well. Currently 326 BRS GOLF customers offer a 9-hole course and a further 144 clubs offer a 9-hole rate on an 18-hole course.
There are a number of reasons why 9-hole golf is on the rise, chief among them being that shorter rounds fit more easily into a golfer’s busy schedule. In fact, a survey by The R&A found that 60 per cent of golfers would enjoy the sport more if it took less time to play – a finding which saw golf’s governing body go on to launch its first 9-hole Championship preceding The Open at Royal Troon in 2016. This continued into 2017 at Royal Birkdale and 2018 at Carnoustie and this year will culminate in a 9-hole final played over the first two and last seven holes at Royal Portrush on the morning of Saturday 13 July.
And the popularity of 9-hole competitions isn’t just confined to The R&A’s 9-hole Challenge. Currently 530 BRS GOLF customers offer 9-hole competitions at their course, with 49k such contests held at golf clubs using our technology across the UK & Ireland last year.
But for those of you thinking visitors are behind this upswing in 9-hole rounds, the numbers tell a different story.
Not only have the number of members booking 9-hole rounds increased year-on-year (from 126k in 2016 to more than 153k in 2018), but members are also taking part in more and more 9-hole competitions. Participation in these short form contests has risen from 6,170 members in 2016 to 8,025 last year.
Visitors do still make up the majority of 9-hole bookings, however, with in excess of 321,000 visitors booking 9-hole rounds in 2018. Up from 300k the year before and 241k in 2016.
What’s clear from these numbers is that the appetite for a shorter form of golf is growing and clubs not yet offering a 9-hole rate on their courses should embrace this demand. For help setting up a 9-hole rate at your course using your BRS GOLF system, contact our Account Management Team on email@example.com or call 00800 7808 8888.
BRS GOLF technology enables almost 2,000 clubs across the UK & Ireland to manage all kinds of online bookings with ease, cut down on admin time and analyse course usage and demand.
As the UK’s leading provider of online tee times and golf club management solutions, GOLFNOW UK & Ireland (including BRS Golf by GOLFNOW and Teeofftimes by GOLFNOW) today pledged its support of The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter and will undertake initiatives to help strengthen the focus on gender balance within the golf industry by promoting golf as a great place for women to work.
GOLFNOW will do more to advocate and encourage women to work in golf, and endeavour to include women players in its marketing campaigns, emails and website photography. The company will continue to work collaboratively with The R&A to achieve its aims.
The Charter, launched by golf’s governing body in 2018, specifically aims to:
Strengthen the focus on gender balance and provide a united position for the golf industry
Commit national federations and organisations to support measures targeted at increasing participation of women, girls and families in golf
Call upon signatories to take positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of women working at all levels of the sport
Set individual targets for national associations for participation and membership and reporting progress annually
Develop an inclusive environment for women and girls within golf
GOLFNOW UK&I General Manager, Brian Smith, says: “I whole-heartedly support this fantastic initiative by The R&A and am proud that GOLFNOW is the first golf technology provider to lend its support to the Women in Golf Charter. As both a keen golfer and an employer in the golf industry, I believe it is important to continually grow the game and I hope to see more women taking up the sport. At GOLFNOW we have a brilliant company culture which promotes inclusivity, as well as golf, and this has been integral to building a great team.”
GOLFNOW UK&I HR Manager, Rosie McCaul, adds: “Here at GOLFNOW and across the wider NBC Group, commitment and proactivity in ensuring Diversity and Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do. Growing the Game by encouraging more women to play golf will be instrumental in also attracting more women to work in the industry. This is a commendable commitment by The R&A and one that we are very proud to support.”
As an ongoing company initiative, GOLFNOW UK & Ireland already has been hosting regular society days and golf lessons, run by Course Sales Associate Lucy Simpson. The society outings take place in a scramble format so that beginners, both men and women, can enjoy the game without any pressure to contribute points to the scorecard.
Additionally, women hold key roles within GOLFNOW’s international business, including HR Manager Rosie McCaul Amy Chambers in customer support, Lucy Simpson and Anna McWilliams in sales, support executive Rachel Kane, Lauren Kelly in HR, Karen Moss as marketing executive, data analyst Charlene Hesketh and technology specialists Lesley Williams, Niamh Goodwin, Sarah Bradley and Michaela McGrath.
The Abbey Hotel Golf & Spa in Redditch came on board as a BRS Golf by GOLFNOW customer in June 2018, but already they are seeing business-altering results. Pay & Play revenue over the last five months at this stunning, championship-standard parkland course in Worcestershire is up 50% on the previous year and members have taken to online booking with ease.
In fact, Golf Manager Rob Davies, was so pleased with the results of his partnership with BRS Golf that he is already using our technology at Abbey Hotel’s sister site Marston Lakes in Sutton Coldfield.
We spoke to Rob about why he chose to partner with BRS Golf, why he prefers the barter payment model and the transformative impact that online booking and efficient tee time management has had on his business.
Increase golf course profitability
Increase direct online visitor bookings
Cater to Pay & Play golfers
Cater to members looking to book online
Why choose BRS Golf?
“The number one reason was to increase profitability,” he notes. “Honestly I felt like we were living in the dark ages by not offering visitors the ability to book online directly! We have used Teeofftimes effectively for a number of years and are one of the best-selling courses in the region on that platform – so the demand to book online was obviously there.
“I spent a couple of years pushing to implement online tee time booking for Abbey Hotel.
Then, about 18 months ago, we were bought by M&T Ventures and they were very supportive of my initiative to install online bookings. They had faith in me and my decision to go with BRS Golf.
“I knew about BRS Golf from other clubs using them, and from Teeofftimes being part of the same group, so it was a very straightforward move to go with BRS Golf.
“We are a proprietary club – although we do have about 350 members – and we’re very popular with Pay & Play golfers, most of which book online. I knew we needed to cater to that.”
Did you have any concerns?
Rob says: “We had very few initial concerns. The only one was cost! We went with a barter deal though, so cost was no longer an issue. We give one tee time a day in exchange for the technology and this is priced cheaper than our usual rate. For us it was definitely the best way to go.
“We had some concerns about transferring members to BRS Golf when we migrated the system over from V1, but it wasn’t an issue at all.”
How was your onboarding experience?
Rob replies: “The whole experience was great – from initial consultation to onboarding and training. BRS Golf Market Sales Manager Richard Dixon came and sat down with me on a couple of occasions to talk through the products and options – he was fantastic. Then BRS Golf Technical Specialist Barry Johnston came to do the onboarding and it was just a matter of a day’s training. He sat down with my staff and took them through the system as well.”
Do you feel your main aims have been met?
“We wanted to increase direct bookings and profitability,” Rob says. “And we certainly did that! We are 50% up on last year’s Pay & Play revenue over last five months! BRS Golf also allows us to reduce our rates at quiet times should that be necessary which has helped drive revenue.
“Having online booking feels like we have opened up a whole new customer base. We’re getting lots of return visitors booking via the website. We might even need to add a waiting list for popular tee times!
“I’ve also noticed that having online booking has helped to spread play out throughout the day as well. Rather than all turning up at the same time, members and visitors are playing different time slots throughout the day. I’m definitely noticing a more even spread of tee times on days with no competitions.
“In our membership we were seeing a growth in under 30s joining the club, so having the Members’ Module and booking app helps cater to them. Currently 60% of members are using the Members’ Module and I want to get that to 80% this year.
“BRS Golf has definitely helped improve efficiency. Previously the occasional booking coming through Teeofftimes by email would be missed, and you’d end up with a disappointed customer. Now staff can log into the system and see immediately all the bookings for that day. The reporting tools are fantastic and simple to use.
Would you recommend BRS to other clubs?
“Absolutely,” Rob enthuses. “In fact, at our sister site Marston Lakes the first thing I did was install BRS Golf to help revenue growth and efficiency there too! I can’t be in the same place at the same time, but I can login on my iPad and see what’s happening on both courses at a glance, maybe switch rates at quieter times.
“There are still quite a few clubs that don’t have online booking systems. I just don’t understand the mentality behind that. Sooner or later they’ll get left behind.”
Abbey Hotel Golf & Spa is one of over 1,500 BRS Golf customers throughout the UK and Ireland enjoying the simplicity of market-leading tee time booking technology.
The R&A published its new rules at the start of 2019 and, on the whole, it seems like these changes will have a positive impact on the game of golf – speeding up play and allowing some relief from the game’s more draconian ways. Here we round up what we feel are the most important changes to the ancient game of golf.
For the first time, a new Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf is being introduced to provide a shorter, more user-friendly version of the Rules for golfers at all levels of the sport.
We like this one because it’s a great tool for beginners (and those of us who need a rules refresher!) and will help make the game more accessible.
Time to search – 3 minutes (NOT 5 minutes).This will definitely help to speed up the pace of play. And this goes hand in hand with…
Pace of Play – it is recommended that you take no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke (and usually you should be able to play more quickly than that) and Ready Golf in stroke play is encouraged.
If you accidentally move your ball when searching for it, replace it without penalty
This is just fair do’s! Why should you incur a penalty for accidentally moving your ball in search? It’s bad enough that you might have lost your ball, but heartbreak when you incur a penalty when you find it. Good call by the R&A.
No penalty for a double hit – it only counts as one stroke.
Check out this video which Brandel Chamblee has put up showing a double hit- don’t worry, the rule incudes the word accidentally so this wouldn’t be allowed!
No penalty if your ball hits you or your equipment accidentally after a stroke.
Ever hit a shot, didn’t turn out how you wanted, and to top it all it hit you or maybe your bag? If you can say yes to this question, you’ll know how good this rule feels! We think this one could be open to manipulation – but golf is a game of honour after all! This goes hand in hand with the next rule…
In bunkers you cannot touch the sand with your club in the area right in front of or right behind your ball, during your backswing or in taking practice swing.
Ball accidentally moved on putting green – no penalty and replace.
Drop a ball out of a bunker – two penalty strokes
Great for the beginner golfer. Or if you find yourself in a particularly nasty sand trap!
Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough (but “embedded” means that part of your ball is below the level of the ground).
A welcome change. Especially with some of the course conditions we have to play in here on the British Isles.
You cannot have your caddie or your partner standing behind you once you begin taking your stance.
This one has been a bit controversial and there are arguments on both sides. It should make competition fairer and speed up play.
In February 2018 we announced the launch of GolfNow Plus for clubs in the UK and Ireland. The Plus management system allows clubs to monitor and respond to online reviews, better understand the competitive landscape through analytics and see at a glance what golfers are saying – or not saying – about their course. That critical business info is compiled into an easy-to-read percentage score based on tweets, Facebook and Instagram mentions, and emails.
In addition, a host of other features help clubs increase their membership, grow their databases and drive sales; including exclusive autopricing technology, designed to save time by making real-time, utilisation-based updates to online rates based on what’s happening on your tee sheet.
What a start to the year it was for golf clubs and golfers! The Beast from the East was a very different animal to storms we have encountered on the British Isles in the past. It brought widespread, unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfall leaving many courses unplayable throughout March. The Pro at Gleneagles wasn’t put off by the Artic conditions though!
We worked to achieve GDPR compliance
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), came into effect on 25 May 2018 and was almost as big a hurdle for many businesses as the Beast from the East! The new legal framework sets the standards for the collection and processing of individuals’ personal information in the EU. As the leading golf technology company, we take compliance and security seriously, and our team worked incredibly hard this year to make the required changes to our technology solutions.
GolfNow’s Belfast office was delighted to be named “Best Business Premises” during a glittering Belfast Business Awards gala at historic St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast in May. These awards are highly sought after, with more than 100 companies shortlisted! We offer on-site BRS Golf training to golf club staff at our award-winning offices. To book a Power-Up session and unlock the power of our technology, please get in touch with our Customer Success Team on 00800 780 88888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We launched in-app push notifications
In June we announced in-app push notifications for our Members’ Booking App. You can now keep your members in the loop with our new ‘Club Messages’ functionality, found in the ‘Tools’ section of your BRS Golf dashboard. Save time and money on club admin and emails by quickly and easily communicating with golfers while they’re at home, on the course or in the bar. Simply add your social event, competition results or course closure notice into Club Messages and, at the push of a button, your members will receive the message directly to their phone.
Our client Leven Links, however, found a very novel use for this new technology. The Fife-based golf course utilised Club Messages to evacuate members who were out on the course when an unexploded WW2 grenade was found in the field adjacent to the sixth tee!
We unveiled the all-new BRS Golf dashboard
In July BRS Golf created a new dashboard that lets you see your daily vitals at a glance. Simply log in and immediately view tee sheet utilisation, booking totals and number of visitors and members playing that day. Switch between your courses at the touch of a button by selecting a course name on the top right-hand side of the screen. You can also see what’s happening tomorrow by clicking the ‘Tomorrow’ tab.
Plan your week and month more effectively by using the graph view to stay on top of the number of visitors’ rounds, types of reservation and tee sheet utilisation for the next 7, 14 or 30 days.
We continued commitment to Junior NI Open
For the second year in a row, GolfNow ran the Junior NI Open alongside the main NI Open event 16-19 August at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Co. Antrim. Over 300 youngsters took part in the free competition on Galgorm Castle’s pitch and putt, where the standard of golf was incredibly high from these budding Rory McIlroys and Olivia Mehaffeys. Two young lads each managed a hole in one and the best score of the week was 11 (from five holes!). The four fantastic winners — Jonathan Dawson, Amy Nicholl, Parker Bonnes and Zara Proctor — won a brand new set of junior clubs each and a ticket for them and a guardian to attend the final day of next year’s Open at Royal Portrush.
The competition is part of GolfNow’s ongoing commitment to growing the game of golf and was open to anyone aged 4-11. Prizes were awarded to the highest scoring boy and girl aged 4-7 and 8-11.
We welcomed commentating legend Peter Alliss
Peter Alliss – the ‘Voice of Golf’ – launched the Irish branch of his Masters charity at GolfNow’s Belfast HQ on 29 August. The Peter Alliss Masters invites golf clubs to hold competitions to raise money for high-powered wheelchairs for disabled youngsters across the UK. Michael Moss, President of the Irish Golf Club Managers Association, will head up the charity in Ireland. The first chairs bought with funds raised by Irish clubs will be presented to families at The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019.
Galgorm Castle shares its BRS Golf success story
Before partnering with BRS Golf, Galgorm Castle used a manual diary to oversee all visitor and member bookings. That was eight years ago and now director of golf Ross Oliver says club staff can’t imagine managing casual or competition tee time reservations without our market-leading system.
“When Galgorm Castle first implemented the system in 2006, the goal was to modernise the booking process, become more efficient and increase sales. All of these goals have been met, and indeed, exceeded. BRS Golf technology allows us to look at our green fee forecasts and identify potential for further income while cutting down on admin costs and improving the booking process for members and visitors alike.”
Europe wins the Ryder Cup in exuberant style
After a jubilant European victory at the Ryder Cup in September some of the BRS Golf team had the chance to play Le Golf National. Product Owner James Donaghy, Course Sales Associate Lucy Simpson and Finance Director Peter Stevenson share their account of the day they walked in the footsteps of our European champions. Here’s how they got on…
We Tee It Up With Rory McIlroy!
What a day it was at Royal Portrush on 3 October as we welcomed Rory McIlroy and the winners of our Tee It Up With Rory competition, sponsored by TaylorMade. Our winners Ash & Richie loved every minute on the Dunluce Links (despite rather blustery conditions!). Rory had plenty of tips for the lads and even offered to buy their coffee at the halfway hut!
We host Golf Channel President Mike McCarley
The Belfast office hosted our GolfNow and Golf Channel colleagues for the company October TownHall meeting. President Mike McCarley spoke about growing the game of golf in the UK, US and the rest of the world while Jeff Foster and Will McIntosh talked about the exciting year GolfNow has had and what the future holds for our market-leading technology. Special guest from The R&A Neil Armit shared his excitement about TheOpen 2019 returning to Royal Portrush.
We meet 20×20 ambassador Stephanie Meadows
In November BRS Golf’s Lucy Simpson and Karen Moss attended a presentation by pro golfer, NorthernIreland native and all-round lovely lady Stephanie Meadow. Stephanie has been announced as a 20×20 ambassador – a campaign championing women in sport and inspiring a new generation. Supported by the Federation of Irish Sport, Investec and NI Sports Forum. Check out this video for more info on 20×20 https://lnkd.in/g6WBwrE
We’re pleased to announce the BRS Payments Processor
Accepting payments though BRS Golf by GolfNow is now easier than ever with the introduction of our new payments solution. Until now, we have worked with a number of third party payment providers, enabling golf clubs to accept online and over the phone payments through BRS Golf. However, we’ve responded to customer requests for a more seamless solution that is managed directly within BRS Golf. BRS Payments is a payments solution built specifically for golf clubs and their unique needs. Our aim was to simplify the entire experience of accepting and managing payments, and offer pricing that is easy to understand. Find out more.
Next year look out for our new-look Members’ Module, the launch of our iPad tee sheet, Member Buggy Booking and so much more!
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