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September 2018

Building a League of Your Own

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Mike Zisman
CEO Golf Genius Software

About 10 years ago, when I was new to the golf industry, I asked a club pro at a public course why they didn’t encourage more golf leagues as a way to fill the tee sheet and benefit from more food and beverage (F&B) sales. I still remember his grimace and his response — “Do you have any idea what a hassle it is to manage a golf league” — followed by a litany of challenges.

I was reminded of that the other day when talking with someone at the NGCOA MCOR18 event. One of the nice things about cloud-based software is that you can see exactly how your customers are using your product, and where they are getting value.

Through mid-July of this year, the total rounds managed by Golf Genius across our thousands of customers were 10.7 million rounds (a one day event with 100 golfers is 100 rounds). There were 311,306 distinct golf events. Here is what is interesting: of these 311,306 events, 89,668 were league play or almost 30 percent of events. If you look at weekdays, we see even more league play. On Thursday, July 26, we managed 2,530 events, of which 1,019 was league play – about 40 percent. The data is pretty clear; leagues account for a lot of play at golf facilities.

Leagues are prevalent in both public courses and private clubs. Private clubs tend not to think of “leagues,” but almost every private club has ladies 9- and 18-holers, MGA and WGA leagues, youth leagues, “nine and dine,” etc. These leagues are a large part of the social fiber of the club because it’s where golf intersects with the social calendar. For public golfers, which constitute about 90 percent of U.S. golfers, a golf league is as close as you get to the camaraderie of a private club. Leagues are great for golfers, and they’re great for golf facilities by selling tee times, selling F&B and building brand loyalty.

Getting back to that club pro who grimaced at the notion of golf leagues, there’s good news. Software used to manage golf leagues shifts the burden of work from the golf shop to the “league commissioner.” The commissioner is a member of the league who relishes the weekly organizing necessary to successfully run a golf league. It’s a real win/win — less work for the golf shop, more fun for golfers, more revenue for operators.

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