golf tournament planning

Golf Operator Spotlight - Ryan K. From Westminster National Golf Course

It’s always great to get to have a conversation with our course operator partners, and recently I was able to sit down and talk shop with Ryan Kraushofer, GM at Westminster National Golf Club in Maryland.  Ryan and Westminster have been with us since April of 2015, and I started with Gallus in March of 2015, so he is one of the first new partners I had the privilege of working with, and some of the things Ryan has done with the app have been very outside the box creative.

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Here’s our conversation in a nutshell:

 

Rob:  Talk to me about your career in golf. What got you started and what is your favorite part of the industry?  And why are you good at it? How did you get started?

Ryan:  I got started in golf when I about was 12 years old.  I would go to the golf course with my parents and hang out with them in the evenings and ride around the course. My dad started working in the Pro Shop and snack shack area, I would hang out with him. Then my parents would play golf and I would hang back in the clubhouse. I would do things around the club, like take out the trash, do some other odd jobs around the course and make $20-30 bucks, and I thought “this is kinda a cool gig”. Luckily my middle school was right around the corner and during my time in middle school and high school in the evenings I would go to the nearby course to help out with landscape and just work as much as I could.

 

Ryan is well respected for his agronomic skills and has been called upon by the USGA to help set up US Open Courses as recently as 2015 at Chambers Bay.  He’s pretty humble about it, but I am fairly certain in Opens since he would have been there as well had it not been for little things, like getting married!

 

Rob:  Having been in golf then your entire adult life and more, what do you see as the biggest challenge golf as an industry has experienced in the last 5 years?

Ryan:  I think the biggest challenge is simple,  getting golfers out to play, growing the game through younger golfers and women, and keeping them coming back. For me, that is the biggest challenge.

 

Rob:  Do you feel we have turned a corner and succeeded, or will that continue to be a major challenge for courses and the game as a whole?

Ryan:  I think so. I think initiatives like what Topgolf is doing will continue to help. In my experience, they are reaching a point that they are getting people interested in going out to the golf course. I have heard some people that say Topgolf hurts the industry but I don't believe that. I think they are doing great things, and I think as a professional in this industry you're always going to have to do something to get new people involved.  It’s not just the growth of our games, but sustaining our careers.

 

Rob: I think that is the case with any business.  If you're not looking to grow your customer base you're probably planning to fail.  

Let’s talk about technology and your mobile app - what impact do you think they have made on your course and your business?

Ryan:  Technology is changing all the time. From agronomics to golf balls, to GPS, to golf balls with GPS!  And smartphones - people are always on the phone on the golf course and instead of looking for ways to end that, we should look for ways to capitalize on it because we are not going to separate people from their phones. We have found they're looking for ways to keep score when playing, whether it's with our app or another technology,  golfers are using it in their games.

There is nothing wrong with technology. It is a change and change is often tough, but people will adapt and change and if your business doesn’t adapt along with them, people will pass you by.  As I mentioned in your first question, Rob, the challenge in our industry is getting people to golf, so accommodating their lifestyles and giving them something to enjoy in that mix is an important part of answering that challenge.

 

Rob:  You have done some pretty unique things with your app, for example selling sponsorships in the tournament Portion of the app to help fund your investment.  I remember you did the same thing with the tournament software registration, where you were selling hole sponsorships through a player registration page you altered to make work this way for you.

Can you talk about some of the ideas you have had and things you're doing to get outside of the box and separate yourself from what others are doing?

Ryan:  It's always tough thinking of different ideas. We will often run a Skins competition through the app.  It’s a quick and easy way to get people engaged, downloading, and using the app because it is something they understand and have been doing for years anyway. Skins competitions are the biggest thing we do in the way of getting people to download.

As far as selling the hole sponsorships I try to do that every year. It's a nice way to offer businesses a new way to reach people, more than just a sign in the ground. It may only be $200, but when you carry that out over a handful of businesses and a number of tournaments, it’s an easy way to cover the investment of our app each year.

The Loyalty programs you have built for us are working very well too.  We are punching loyalty cards every day. So those golfers are using the app every day and they are seeing the hole sponsorships, playing in the Skins games, keeping and posting scores - each way contributes to us being connected to our customers and is worth the effort to separate ourselves in a challenging business like golf.

 

Rob:  Let’s talk briefly about a challenge I hear way too often - the older demographic.  A lot of courses, ones I am afraid are going to be closing shop in the next 10 years or so without an adjustment, tell us that the bulk of their clients are much older and just won’t download and use the app.  What’s your take on this?

Ryan:  You know when we first launched the app, I agree, the older guys weren’t using it as much as the younger guys. But with the development of the loyalty program in the app, we offered free golf after 10 rounds of golf, and the older guys end up wanting the rewards so they end up downloading the app. I would say my senior group has downloaded it just to get the rewards and I think enticing them with the rewards has pushed me over the edge to using all of the other features.

 

Rob:  Any other predictions on technology in the golf industry in the next few years? Whether it's app, payments, upgrades to POS with the course?

Ryan:  You tell me haha!

How Are You Using Your App?

This week from our National Sales Director, Brandon Clark....

I’ve spoken to thousands of golf course operators around the world about mobile apps. The one unifying factor is everyone realizes they need an app. In fact, there are very few operators that don’t think they need a branded mobile app. Those operators are akin to unicorns, you know they are out there, but they are very rare and difficult to spot in person!

All kidding aside, courses are unified in understanding they need a branded presence on their customers smartphones. The question becomes when do I take the leap and what am I looking for  in my course app? Every operation is different and has unique needs and goals.

 

In my experience, there are 5 dominant reasons for courses wanting apps. These 5 reasons are usually a direct of result of those courses’ individual needs and goals.

 

Communication:

Your Gallus App should be your primary method of communication. When I speak to courses before they take the leap to mobile their primary channels of communication are email, bulletin boards, word of mouth, Facebook, newspaper ads, and on occassion TV. In today's economy you need reliable, efficient, cost effective, and instantaneous communication. The only way to do this is through a branded presence right on your golfers smartphone where you can send segmented push notifications and set up location based messaging (Geofencing). Our most successful courses are active communicators on a weekly basis.

 

I need to compliment my website:

A common quote I hear from future partners, “I’m not sure what the possibilities are with Gallus, I just know we need an app because my website isn’t getting the traffic it used to.” This very common sentiment strikes at the very nature of mobile. Industry data suggests the vast majority of smartphone users do most of their internet surfing on their phone. Gallus Apps are specifically designed to work seamlessly with your golfers smartphones. Then when you need more “detailed” content we can simply “point” to a specific URL within your website. Most app users will still “feel” like they are within the app when in fact they are on your mobile enabled website. This is what I mean by complimenting your website. Do you have enough or the right content on your app?

 

I fear becoming stale as an operation and I want to offer my golfers and/or members a new amenity:

It is important for businesses of any type to remain relevant and continue to add value to their product. Your Gallus mobile app will add value to being your customer. Value can be articulated as GPS, easy tee time booking, live leaderboards, built in loyalty programs, stats and data tracking, course tips, F&B ordering, GHIN score posting. These are the types of improvements that your golfers will notice and appreciate. Are you offering enough value to your customers?

 

Live scoring and tournament management software:

As a former course operator I ran over 100 tournaments annually. Financially speaking, I fully understand how important tournaments are to most courses. I also realize that winning tournaments and keeping them at your courses year after year is very important and a constant challenge. Our tournament software kills two birds with one stone. First, your golfers will get that “PGA Experience” with our live leaderboards. Secondly, each participant must download your app to in order to keep or observe the leaderboard. The Gallus App separates itself from other tournament software providers because you will own real estate on players smartphones and “go home” with them long after the tournament ends.

 

Tee Time Booking:

I would have a really large piggy bank if I had a nickel for every time a course operator told me he or she was tired of their golfers booking rounds with 3rd party tee time providers. Course operators know golfers want to book through their mobile devices. Operators also want their golfers loyal to their own branded booking links. Gallus solves both problems, you just need to use our other tools and services to drive them to your apps’ booking link. Make your branded app your primary booking channel.


So how are you using your Gallus App? If you feel like there's room to improve app utilization, I encourage you to reach out to your Account Manager. We would love to set up a strategy session on ways to improve and realize the potential of YOUR Gallus App!

Full GHIN Integration Is Complete

Our recent App Tip is simply a video to detail the Full GHIN Integration piece being complete in the Gallus Tournament Wizard for your apps.  Until now, golfers were able to post their scores at the end of their rounds, but now you can enter a golfer's GHIN number and have the most current index, thus course handicap, for the golfer for any league, tournament, or event.

 

Check out the video below, and as always, reach out to me with any questions you may have: rob@gallusgolf.com or 858.437.9262

Continuing to Improve Your Apps

NOW LIVE -- Multi-Round Tournament Capability!

 

Great News -- For those of you who have chosen to enable our fully integrated tournament software, multi-round capabilities are now featured in it.  This includes the ability to host tournaments that are more than one round in length, to make cuts after rounds, to flight tournaments after a round has been played, and fantastic live leaderboard coverage that details each round and total scores.  It's just like watching Johnny Miller on TV, only better because you don't have to actually listen to the guy!

 

If you're using the Tournament Wizard software and want our team to run you through the changes, by all means reach out and let's schedule some time to talk.

 

If you're NOT using the Tournament Wizard and want to learn more, especially how it gains you dozens of downloads at a time, reach out and let's talk about getting it turned on in your app!

 

ALSO -- Within the month of May, be ready for our NEXT FREE IMPROVEMENT!

 

A hint as to what it is.... Loyal Users can receive Rewards!

 

Contact us here for a sneak preview or to help with the Tournament Wizard software, rob@gallusgolf.com or 858.437.9262