Solving the dilemma of technology

Progress means change but introducing more technology to the club can be fraught with difficulty. Craig Higgs, international managing director for Golf Genius, has some tips for navigating the path... More technology means more change and even with Covid-19 supercharging the move towards digitisation in golf, the recent debate around roll-ups and online tee-times shows there are still challenges ahead for golf club managers wanting to fully embrace the technological revolution. And yet there are obvious advantages for moving away from an analogue world. Technology can simplify processes and aid efficiency. It can increase the time staff spend with members and it can improve output. The club manager’s dilemma – of balancing technology against tradition – is one that’s well understood at Golf Genius, the world’s leading supplier of golf tournament management solutions. The firm works with the USGA and England Golf, along with many clubs who all have differing needs when it comes to technology. “It’s coming to every industry that we see - banking, airlines,” said international managing director Craig Higgs. “Technology is here. It’s here to make it efficient for the users and it’s there to enhance the experience of the customer. “The tee sheet is a classic example. Booking online, I know there’s quite an interesting debate within clubs at the moment but, primarily, the tee sheet is there to make it easy for many people to get their time. People are busy and it’s an easy way for them to do it. “From what I’ve seen, the result of Covid was a huge surge in the uptake of digital apps. It was a real catalyst to get people moving forward. “It’s within everybody’s capability and I think we’re definitely moving a lot quicker now towards that point of acceptance.” That move is being accelerated by golf club managers who are becoming ever more tech savvy and by members who are demanding more service and convenience – something that’s easily catered for in the digital arena. The introduction of the World Handicap System has only increased the pace of innovation. Against that, the “difficult member syndrome”, characterised by resistance to change or a lack of demand, can provide a significant barrier.  So will tradition prevail over technology? Higgs believes GMs at present are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  But he also thinks a balance can be struck, which looks after existing customers while satisfying those who want to see change. And it doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to looking at suppliers. He adds: “Technology is not prescriptive and must never be, but it should make it easier and better for managers and members. “There is more choice. There are a lot more technology companies coming into golf and it is an upwardly mobile market. “Typically, those suppliers don’t try and do everything. They specialise in something – as Golf Genius does with tournament management and handicapping.  “What we have to do is be very helpful to that...
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