I regularly watch the Golf Business LIVE broadcasts with Jay Karen and Don Rea, often referred to as the “Jay and Rea” show or the “Affable Brothers Talk Golf.” I watch to maybe learn something or hear a story idea to write about. The December 2021 episode provided just that, at about the 3:00 mark, when Don Rea asked the industry for an electronic waitlist.
Waitlists were prolific in the previous century to give golfers some semblance of hope to play at busy courses where tee times sold out within minutes of opening the reservation window. Unfortunately, a famous story from a muni near me that once ran 110,000 rounds off its first tee had a sad ending. With a seven-day window and just one phone line, regular foursomes would rotate one person to sleep in the parking lot on Friday night to be sure to get a tee time for the following Saturday when the course opened at 6:00 AM. Sadly, one person was found dead in his car early on a Saturday.
Unfortunately, managing waitlists were a royal pain in the rear for everyone involved. They were written with paper and pencil, and golfers would hang around the course hoping for a no-show or cancellation. On the other hand, some were friendly enough with the starter or sly enough with a Jackson to elevate to preferred status. Customer-friendly? Hardly.
Last December, Jay and Rea didn’t know that two leading golf technology companies were working together to develop the industry’s first and only electronic waitlist – Gallus Golf and Club Prophet Systems. But I did, and waited until now to take the wraps off a brilliant way to better manage the increased demand for tee times. It’s called “StandBy,” and it works.
So how does StandBy work? Golfers use the Gallus course-customized app to set days and time ranges they want to play when tee times are full, like 8:00 – 10:00 AM on Saturday. Then, when a cancellation or no-show occurs on the Club Prophet tee sheet, an immediate push notification on the user’s mobile screen alerts them of availability and a one-button click to secure the time. It’s far more effective and time-sensitive than email. It’s autonomous and self-servicing and alleviates staffing issues when many courses run on skeleton crews. StandBy simultaneously relieves golfer frustration while protecting golf revenue by not letting cancellations and no-shows allow empty slots to fade to black.
StandBy is not the first integration connecting Gallus apps with Club Prophet software, but it’s the most ingenious. It’s the result of both listening to customer requests and crystal-balling what clients might need in the future. Steve Jobs at Apple was famous for inventing things people didn’t think they’d need or want, like carrying thousands of songs in your pocket. Gallus and Club Prophet combined their forward-thinking to introduce mobile check-in and payment and one-click reservation capability, both in development before Covid hit.
I believe the industry is best served by technology companies who stay in their lanes and don’t try to be everything to everybody. Rather, they have open APIs (application programming interfaces), enabling seamless integrations that best serve the clients and customers maintained on each end by the companies’ development teams.
Combine imagination, attentiveness, ingenuity, and integration collaboration between two world-class golf technology companies, and you get a new technology piece to add to a course’s marketing arsenal (if it has one at all). StandBy replaces the paper and pencil waitlist while adding an instant communication link with the customer and answers Don Rea’s plea for something better to manage demand.
I’ll follow up later in the year with some StandBy metrics and report on how it’s working at Augusta Ranch. So, stand by.
(Full disclosure: I have been a paid advisor to Gallus Golf since its inception in 2011).