Golf Tournament Software

Golf Operator Spotlight - Matt Staffen - St. Marys Golf & Country Club

I had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Staffen, President and General Manager of St. Marys Golf & Country Club in Ontario, Canada. In the three years St. Marys has been us, Matt has been a leader in implementing our messaging tools and technology solutions. With the help of BOOST and Matt’s marketing vision, St. Marys Golf & Country Club App has grown their app users from 800 to over 2,500 - in the last season alone! Plus, their Clubhouse Kitchen sales have increased by 28%!

Whether your golf club is big, small, private or public, we could all take a page out of Matt’s book on how he has grown his business, and more importantly, built a golf community where his customers feel at home.

  • Molly Jasco, Gallus Golf Marketing Manager

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Molly: Can you tell me what career and life decisions led to you the golf industry and becoming the President and General Manager of one of the top golf clubs in Ontario?

Matt: Our family purchased St. Marys Golf & Club Club in the early 90’s when I was about six years old. I started working at the golf course when I was 15 or 16 years old and then went off to university and started working for some really high-end in golf courses up in Muskoka, a well-known tourist region here in Ontario just two hours north of Toronto. I also worked for a big corporate retailer for five years and what drove me back to St. Marys was not just my love for golf, but more of my passion for the marketing side of the industry.  So that’s really what led me to my decision to come back to operate the family business and operate St. Marys and grow it to its full potential.

Molly: How have you utilized your marketing background to grow your club?

Matt: What I really love about this industry and why I love showing up to work every day is the marketing side of it, and what influences a golfer to choose your golf course over the hundreds of other golf courses they have the option to play nowadays. There are 60 golf courses within 45 minutes of us, so that's obviously a big challenge. But we’ve been able to grow our business by taking advantage of the e-marketing side. It started with a lot of emails to our member base, then our Facebook Page, Instagram, and really took off in the last year with the app.  

We're a mature industry and in order to survive today, you have to grow and be the best. That’s the mentality we take every day and we’ve grown the business that way - whether it’s for our weddings, memberships, or our junior program which all have taken off in the last couple years - revenues have grown 100%. It’s been a whole lot of fun to see our golfing community transpire into what it has become today.

Molly: St. Marys is in a competitive golf market, what is your club doing that sets you apart?

Matt: First of all, we are continually staying in touch with them. We’ve found that adding the app to our efforts made perfect sense, especially for the younger generation, under forty, who have their phones in front of them all the time, and are not always checking their emails anymore.

We also have created a culture and an atmosphere from the moment they walk in the club and play 18 holes and then come back in for food and drinks, to the moment they walk out the door. We want them to they feel like they're at home and a part of a community. That was the second part of it.

The third part was reinvestment back into the golf course, back into the property, into our equipment, into our people. For example, the last two years we've undergone a bunker renovation program so we're redoing all of our bunkers and it will be completed next year. We're also buying new golf carts to keep our equipment up to date, our people head of the game, trying to be as progressive as possible, while also growing the revenue side. We know if we only focus on the cost side eventually our competitors will catch up, so the reinvestment was a big initiative for us.

It's really about being innovative, reinvesting back in that property, and creating that culture where people want to spend time.

Molly: You ran an aggressive campaign for “Free 18 Holes For Downloading The St. Marys App”. Some may wonder why you would potentially give a round away to an existing customer. What was your reasoning behind that and how has it impacted your season?

Matt: I felt the need to be aggressive with that offer in order to build our number of users from the 800 range we had been stuck at for the last couple of years.  

With the help of the BOOST Team, I wanted to go after that market, and attack it quickly to grow our app audience. And we successfully grew our number of users from 800 to 2,500 in a matter of a few months.

With the Free 18 Holes offer, we thought it would be easy to give away something for free, but how do you turn that into future sales? We knew the younger generation redeeming this offer would want an experience and beer would be bought on the course and food purchased after their round. That incremental revenue in just doing that offer was good enough for us to justify doing something so aggressive. And now we can reach out to them and try to bring them back with different offers and value plays that will get them interested in spending time here.

We’ve used Push Notifications a lot to target that same demographic of forty and under, who are more likely to receive and look at a push notification than an email. Using that Free 18 holes offer and growing our app users was really about the long-term ability to communicate with our customers in a more modern way.

We’ve also utilized and pushed onTAP to our customer through push notifications. We want to remind people when they are on the course that they can order food through the app. That was a big thing, as well, because our kitchen sales are up 28% this season. If someone has the app on their phone they will make that decision quicker than looking for a local restaurant.

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Molly: Third Party Sites and Golf Network Apps, like 18 Birdies, have a large audience of users and courses available. What would be your advice to someone who is on the fence between using a Golf Network App or a branded golf club app?

Matt: Third Party Sites has helped grow our revenue, but it's a challenge because if you’re not the cheapest you’re less likely to get the sale and to me, that is not a good long-term play. I want to control as many of the green fee bookings as possible. So if we can do that through our app and website (with dynamic pricing), that will keep the customer coming directly to us. Also, it's a lot easier to communicate our message to them as opposed to competing with every other golf course that’s on those 3rd Party Sites. With the Gallus Golf services, we can bring them here by owning that communication.

Molly: It can be very difficult for any business to grow their social media following, but St. Marys app and social media engagement is very strong. How have you grown your online audience?

Matt: I think if courses focus on growing your brand and not trying to sell, that is key. We typically don’t go on Facebook and promote an offer. It’s more about having your audience see what the brand brings, what the experience and the culture we are trying to create at St. Marys. We believe they will be attracted to that.



Molly: Given the success St. Marys has experienced due to your strong marketing strategy, what suggestions would you have to clubs who are struggling to find time to market their Club App?

Matt: The Golf Tournament Module has been big for us and it’s so easy to use. Our Pro Shop Manager, who initially didn’t want to have anything to do with computers, now uses it for everything - even our Glow Golf Night, for scorecards and cart signs. He has really embraced it this year and we’ve even added sponsors to each hole. This allowed us to increase our annual hole sponsor fee by $50, so it’s helped our club on many different levels.

Obviously with the BOOST program that was big for me. It made me take the app more seriously and realize its benefits. Why we moved forward with BOOST was because we were content with our 800 followers but it also meant I had to spend a lot of time during the busy season coming up with marketing ideas. When I have our monthly meetings with the BOOST Team it makes it much easier to just talk about those good ideas and put them into action. It work on both sides, but it keeps us organized and forces us to stick to a plan. BOOST is always timely that way. To try to manage the app, in addition to Facebook, and email, it can be a lot for operators, especially in an age when we are trying to manage our labor. To have a full-on marketing team, who are good at what they do and also understand the game of golf can be a challenge to find.

Having BOOST on our side gives us a team we can work with, who are quick and ready to take on the things we need to do. To sum it up, the back end module is easy to use, but BOOST will take the app to the next level.

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Molly: Golf can have the reputation for being a little behind the times when it comes to implementing new technology. Sometimes we hear, “Our club doesn’t need an app because our golfers are older” or “We don’t need Instagram because of X, Y, Z”. If a club was unsure of utilizing new technology to communicate to their golfers, what would you say to them?

Matt: There are different ways to target different audiences. The younger generation, who are under forty spend an insane amount of time on their phone, so the way to communicate with them is through the app.

We still have great success with our emails, but I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that our email open rates are declining slightly. The older crowd is still responding, but the younger generation is more engaged with a quick one-line message in a push notification. As marketing evolves and that younger generation becomes your customer base, it will be tougher to target them if you don’t have your app available on their phone.


Molly: Are there any technologies you’ve seen in other industries, that you would like to see the golf industry to adopt?

Matt: Yeah, I think one of the fears with the industry right now, especially with these 3rd parties taking on more and more, is that if you’re not the cheapest, you’re not going to get the customer. Trying to be innovative through marketing, and persuading a customer to come to you, despite what the price is - I think that is a big challenge we are all facing. The hotel and airline industry had experienced this same challenge and figured out the dynamic pricing model, because finding those super cheap deals are not as common today. I believe dynamic pricing is a huge way of the future in our sport and what we do in our industry because it’s figuring out what the price should be in the high and low demand. I think integrating that into the app is a big thing - we’ve done that with our tee sheet.

We shouldn’t be trying to be the cheapest, because then it becomes a race to the bottom. It’s more about trying to provide customer value and an experience. If you have your own app, you can connect with the customer that way and offer different things for them to connect to your business. For example, onTAP is a new way to get orders that can be available to someone on the course or a local nearby that wants to pick up food.

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There are a lot of opportunities out there, you have to figure out who you are targeting and what it is you’re offering - and keeping that customer close to you - instead of the 3rd party sites. Yes, they will always have a place, but if we can control that customer experience, we will all be better off.






Get The Most Out Of Your Tournament Software

For most golf courses, outings and tournaments make up a significant portion of annual club revenue. In the United States alone, over 800,000 golf tournaments are held each year, with the average 72 player event bringing in about $5,000.

Being that tournaments are a large revenue stream to clubs, it’s important to ensure proper planning is in place for the event, as well as providing an unforgettable golf experience to your players. There are many golf tournament registration softwares available to help your tournament organizer cross off the long list of “to-do” items in preparing for an event, but you also want to maximize revenue-generating activities for the day of and post-tournament. The Gallus Golf Tournament Software offers a user-friendly system to get your tournament set up, players registered, and a wide range of marketing opportunities to boost club revenue during the tournament day as well as gain repeat business.

Tournament Set-Up

Input all tournament info in one central location. Tournament images, rules, format. Import player/team spreadsheets to generate groups in a single click.
 

Online Registration

Quickly create a custom marketing and registration site for each outing that can include tournament info, images, video, contact info, and more. Participants can register (and even prepay) which all flows into your tournament software, ready to go.

 

Print Materials

Print out all your tournament materials. Cart signs, scorecards, check-in sheets, tournament info handouts, tournament results, and more.
 

Hole Sponsorships

Feature hole sponsors for your golf tournament in your mobile app. Sponsorship information can be detailed in the app with a direct link to their website. This type of advertisement creates a conversion path that is mobile friendly to your players and trackable for your sponsors.

 

Live Scoring

The in-app leaderboards and live scoring make for an interactive experience for your players to see how they rank against the competition.


 

Live Leaderboards

Display the teams and players of your tournament on your custom leaderboard in the clubhouse. Participants to view prior, during, and after the event.
 

In-App Deals

Increase player revenue by offering a Tournament-Player specific deals that can be redeemed that day or applied for a future visit. Your players will appreciate having exclusive deals to spend at your golf shop or an additional incentive to play at your course again.

 

Golf GPS & Course Information

Having beautifully customized golf GPS of your course enhances the on-course golf experience and will drive downloads for your golf club app. Our golf GPS provides full tee-to-trouble golf GPS mapping (not just to the center of the green) in a user-friendly interface. Golfers can even measure their shot through the app. Also, including pin placements or drone flyover videography or is an excellent way to make course information accessible in a mobile-friendly way.

 

Stay connected to your tournament players through push notifications.

Now that tournament players have your app, it’s time to keep them engaged through in-app messaging. Sending out golf specials or general messages, it will keep your club top of mind to your new customers and more likely to play with you again!

Learn more about how to set up a tournament using our Gallus Golf Tournament Software.


If you have any tournament or app-related questions, feel free to reach out to us at support@gallusgolf.com.

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!

Making Your App Your Primary Marketing Channel

This week's post from Brandon Clark, National Sales Director
 

Your Branded Mobile App Will Be Your Primary Marketing Channel In 2017 And Beyond!!

Sure you’ve heard it all before.

  • “Mobile technology is revolutionizing how businesses (including golf courses) communicate with their customers.”
  • “In the 2017 business environment it is critical your facility has a branded presence on all of your customers’ phones.”
     

Well, the data is in, it’s all true!

In 2017 it is imperative for your facility to not only get onboard with mobile technology but your staff, top to bottom, must embrace your app. With you and your staff working together to actively promote your Gallus app the sky's the limit for generating new revenue and providing a better customer experience at a fraction of the time and cost of other marketing and advertising channels.

 

  • In 2015 40,402 business apps were created
  • Smartphone users now spend only 14% of their time in web browsers while they spend 86% of their time on mobile apps.
  • In 2016 62% of businesses surveyed either have an app or are planning on building one. Of those surveyed 20% use their apps for branding, 30% for generating revenue, and 50% to engage their customers.
  • We spend 174 minutes on our mobile devices every day.
  • $74 Billion in sales were made through mobile apps in 2015. That is up 32% from 2014. We expect a similar jump when the 2016 numbers come in.
  • For mobile shoppers there a fewer transaction on mobile websites and more transactions on mobile apps. Today's consumers prefer mobile apps for purchasing because it’s a smoother checkout process, an app is easier to navigate, and an app is easier to read.
  • 30% of baby boomers download retailer apps, 50% of Gen X’ers, and 60% of Millennials. For those in the golfing demographics, the numbers are much higher.

 

The lesson to be learned...

Driving downloads is absolutely essential. If you are not, your competitors are. We promise you that. The math is obvious - the more downloads you have, the larger your audience - the larger your audience, the greater your effect.

Here are some great previous tips to click on to learn some unique ways to drive more downloads to your app. (click on each to read them)

  1. Mapping Your Practice Range
  2. Flash Tournaments
  3. Drive Downloads through a Facebook Call to Action Button
  4. Video to Promote your App
  5. Automated Smart Banners on your mobile website
  6. The Gallus Tournament Wizard
  7. Overcoming Download Objections

 

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

Don't Miss This Webinar...

We continue to add improvements to your app, and this latest one converts directly to $$$ for you!

Introducing -- TOURNAMENT REGISTRATION

We will be hosting a webinar tomorrow at 2pm EST, 11am PST, to share the details of this latest development, but prior to it, here are some of the bullet points:

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

  • Golfers individually or by teams can now register to play in tournaments at your course through a custom webpage built through your app dashboard and able to be shared anywhere --on your website as a link, in social media, in your app, through emails, etc.
  • You can choose to accept payment from the golfers when they register on this website, directly deposited into your bank account
  • You can pass this website along to the Tournament Host so they can use it to collect registration from their players for their event, and they can even choose to accept payments at registration on the site giving them more capabilities than ever before and providing your Tournament Sales department a HUGE advantage over competing golf courses. (You also will have full visibility into the payments being accepted by the host)
  • Data Entry work is cut down to next to nothing for you because when a player/team registers, they will be automatically entered into your Gallus Tournament Wizard software for the tournament they are playing in
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, you gain opportunities with new customers pre and post event to get them out to your course more often by marketing to them through the app since this webpage will be promoting the downloads for you.  EVERY REGISTRANT can receive up to 3 emails from you to remind about the tournament and with instructions to download the app. 

 

ATTEND THE WEBINAR TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY JULY 13th, at 2PM EST, 11AM PST

YOU MUST REGISTER TO ATTEND, CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

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