(Bodo Sieber, CEO, Tagmarshal + Joey Walters, GM, Tagmarshal)
Announcer: This is The Golf Business podcast brought to you by the National Golf Course Owners Association, the leading voice for today's owners and operators. Each episode features guests and discussions about some of the most important matters in our business. This podcast is supported by Yamaha Golf-Cars, the official golf car partner of NGCOA. Now, coming to you from the John Deere Studio, is Golf Business Podcast host, Charlie Birney.
Charlie Birney: [00:00:26] Welcome to Episode 74 of the Golf Business Podcast. We have, as always, some outstanding guests. First up in House Chat, we have Bodo Sieber and Joey Walters, the CEO and general manager of Tagmarshal, our newest NGCOA partner, to really peel back the layers that today's courses can receive as a result of utilizing data and today's technology. You'll see what I mean. This is the type of analysis that can benefit everyone. And for INSIGHT golf business, I'm absolutely thrilled to welcome Jeff Price, the chief commercial officer of the PGA, and Charles Dillahunt, I'm going to get this right, Charles. Strategic Adjunct to the CEO and the Chief People Officer of the PGA. And they're going to talk about Make Golf Your Thing. You all are probably already participating in it. There's a lot to this program. I really want to encourage everyone to let us know about your Make Golf Your Thing stories. Ok, let's tee it up and get started with Bodo Sieber and Joey Walters of Tagmarshal. Well, I'm so glad to welcome Bodo Sieber and Joey Walters, the CEO, and General Manager of Tagmarshal, to the show today. Gentlemen, welcome to the golf business podcast.
Bodo Sieber: [00:01:39] Thank you, Charlie, it's fantastic to be here.
Charlie Birney: [00:01:41] Well, I'm so excited you're involved in something that we've been talking around and about some of the technology that I'm looking at in the Tagmarshal Website. So I want to get started right in with either one of you, Bodo or Joey. How would you describe the elevator speech for Tagmarshal? I'm super excited to start diving in.
Bodo Sieber: [00:02:00] Thank you, Charlie, this is my favorite question, this is broader. I'm sure Joey will have his own version. But if you'll allow me because.
Charlie Birney: [00:02:12] Yes, please
Bodo Sieber: [00:02:12] Yes, so we are a golf course optimization system. So it's business to business. We serve the operators who ultimately obviously serve the golfers. What we do is we use GPS and IOD technology to create what is basically a Waze or Google Maps for golf course management.
Charlie Birney: [00:02:30] Mm-hmm.
Bodo Sieber: [00:02:30] You can already see that there's data involved and there's tracking of players involved. And ultimately what it does is it speeds up the game at which the players absolutely love. And I'm sure we're going to talk about that. And then that's good for business, to begin with. But also, there's lots of efficiencies that come with the use of technology, and there is material opportunity to add additional capacity, which is as golf courses are now in high demand, very relevant, as you know,
Charlie Birney: [00:02:56] Of course
Bodo Sieber: [00:02:57] And provide the best possible experience alongside that. So it's an efficiency tool, optimization for revenue. And the players absolutely love it because it speeds up the game that they love to come play.
Charlie Birney: [00:03:07] Right. Well, I've never seen a system just to go sort of down real far real quick. Certainly I've seen golf cart systems. Certainly I've seen GPS systems. There's one in Queenstown Harbor, which I had a hand in many years ago, and there's a huge television on the wall. And I went in after being gone for about a year and a half. And I saw all the golf carts, you know, all over the map. And it was really exciting. But I've never seen on your How It Works page your first item, the Walkers interaction. And so I wonder if you could talk a little. I've never seen that integrated with this whole package. But then I need sort of a perspective for back of the house to talk about the analytics, too, as well. So, but first, you have a solution for the walkers that gives them, you know, integration in this optimization.
Bodo Sieber: [00:03:52] Yes. Joey, do you want to jump on?
Charlie Birney: [00:03:54] Come on Joey, it's your turn.
Joey Walters: [00:03:57] Yeah, it's our tax system.
Charlie Birney: [00:04:00] So what is I'm not I've just looked at it and I'm not exactly sure what it is. I think I know what it is.
Joey Walters: [00:04:05] Yeah, it's about the size, I compare it to, about the size of a zippo lighter.
Charlie Birney: [00:04:10] OK
Joey Walters: [00:04:10] Both devices can attach to a golf bag. If you're on a caddy course, it can go in the caddy's pocket. It's very easy for them to carry. And it does the same thing as our cart systems. We can track where the players are at on the course. We can track the pace of play and we can do all the normal analytics that we can do across all of our devices with this. A lot of these are in high end courses where they do have a lot of walkers. Bandon Dunes is one example.
Charlie Birney: [00:04:41] Right
Joey Walters: [00:04:42] It's a total walking course. Yeah. I mean, this is what they use to help manage their player experience out there. You know, for a course like them, it's not so much about the pace of play. It's about the experience.
Charlie Birney: [00:04:53] Right
Joey Walters: [00:04:54] Coming into the place like that. Yeah.
Charlie Birney: [00:04:56] Maximizing the pure golf experience.
Joey Walters: [00:04:58] Exactly. So.
Charlie Birney: [00:04:59] Let me jump in, which is another thing which you're saying. With this kind of an optimization system and we're really haven't started talking about all the things it does probably yet. I'm looking at your website. It allows you to do what you've just alluded to. Whether it's a full cart course, a full walking course devoted to maximizing profits or maybe maximizing just the pure golf experience. And that's what's never existed before. So can you give me a little more about, I've got the information coming in and then can you take me through to how you get to the data, the analytics? Either one.
Bodo Sieber: [00:05:31] Ask me the data and systems question.
Charlie Birney: [00:05:38] All right. I'll ask about that. Let's talk about that. So we're gathering all this information. Talk a little bit about that, Bodo.
Bodo Sieber: [00:05:46] What we're doing is we're tracking player movement, right? So basically we're solving a traffic problem on a golf course, which golf has had for the longest time. A couple of years ago, a slow player used to break Twitter every weekend as a hashtag. And now we have been gifted as an industry, obviously, with an amazing boost in new players and returning players. So we need to manage the traffic well, because people are time-sensitive and they want a fantastic experience when they come off that don't want to have to wait and see if it's a huge detractor. So what our system does is we track the movement data and then our system calculates and uses machine learning and algorithms to determine where the traffic issues are on the course even ahead of time. And then either The system that talks to the players and informs them so that they can stay compliant, get back in position.
Charlie Birney: [00:06:38] OK. Yep. I was going to ask.
Bodo Sieber: [00:06:40] Well, the course management or applied assistant might come out and have a conversation based on the information the system has provided, which is based on data. Based on information, not based on opinion, which is a tough conversation to have. Yeah. This is when it comes to real-time management, it completely changes the game because the system tells the clubs and the players if there's a traffic issue or a bottleneck starting to form, and they can respond and be very proactive, which obviously helps the many, many groups that would otherwise be impacted behind them. So it's sort of Real-Time Traffic Management has completely changed to pen and paper and best effort that we used to have.
Charlie Birney: [00:07:23] Wow.
Bodo Sieber: [00:07:24] And it's obviously very resource-efficient, too, because we don't need people out there looking for problems. The system does it every second of every day with every single group all the time and presents the data in a way that's super easy to understand.
Charlie Birney: [00:07:36] That is a great point. Bodo, I was thinking, as you were talking, that the only other way to do exactly what you're saying, we talk about reflexive pricing. This is really responsive timing. Right. And I'm thinking about how would we have done that 10 years ago? And I know how we've done it. And I know what you guys will say with people all over and marshals everywhere. Marshals, Marshals everywhere. And they had to be, I can think of some courses where they were like, you speed up or you're off the course. I mean, you've probably heard stories like that, too, or you skip a hole. Right. So, and that's not a very pleasant experience for anybody. For the marshal. Obviously, the marshal hates that experience and the player really doesn't relish it and might not even come back to the golf course. What you're offering is a proactive win-win solution. I've never seen this done, sort of this responsive timing in such a degree. It's absolutely fascinating. I hope everyone listening will take a look. You've got some just incredible features here, and I'm starting to understand what you're talking about, but I've never really thought about managing it with an intelligent system to manage what you're talking about, Bodo. It's absolutely fascinating.
Bodo Sieber: [00:08:36] We're going to have Joey share some of the things that you see in, obviously meeting and working with a lot of the clients on the ground. But from my side, what's been fascinating is that the opportunity that data presents to this industry is phenomenal because we are a little bit behind on it in terms of adoption. Right. So there is a lot of opportunity where we can actually catch up quickly in terms of using data for better decision making. And you can never know enough about your business. So if golf is important to you and is out after the experience to have optimizing your T-shirt, making sure that you get the optimal amount of people out with the right experience and you doing that day in, day out, full control over that. If that's important to you, then this is something that you should certainly take a look at and enter the data that comes out of it from the business intelligence analytics point of view in terms of understanding your hole-by-hole traffic, your peak times at the course that you need to pay extra attention to.
Charlie Birney: [00:09:33] Right.
Bodo Sieber: [00:09:33] What are your bottleneck areas that we can talk to our superintendents about them all the way through? What are the high traffic, high cart traffic impact, wear and tear areas where people going? Where are they not going? Where can we save money? Where can we protect our course? All of those things come out as an optimization opportunity once you have the data. So it's really a far-reaching business tool, if you will. But it starts with making the play experience as great as it possibly can be, and then for the rest, it's very quickly turns into something that the courses cannot do without once and know what's possible.
Charlie Birney: [00:10:07] Honestly, this is super exciting. And I want to let our listeners know I'm very impressed again with your website because you've got webinars and podcasts listed. And if anyone wants to do a deeper dove, then we'll be able to get to in the time we have today. There are some exceptional content here that for any owner and I love seeing that you have some in spanish. By the way, I wanted to tell you a story about a bottleneck that you reminded me of Bodo. My father used to be in property management and development here in Washington DC and in a building they managed, it was a 19 story building and there were only two elevators. So the wait time was very, very long. And they had lots and lots and lots of complaints about waiting for the elevator. But they couldn't really fix the elevator without spending like a million dollars. So. So can either of you guys guess what they did? They put floor to ceiling wall of Mirro around the elevator doors. And the complaints stopped because everybody was checking their hair. He didn't create that. That's a known system for like elevators. You can't put a mirror on the golf course. But I wonder if it's a monetization in the right circumstances, in the right areas. Maybe that's a place to put a pop-up hot dog shack on the golf course that day and slow people down like dad's mirror. I don't know.
Joey Walters: [00:11:17] Yeah, Charlie. We actually had an experience like that with some of our Seattle courses. They want to send out the beverage cart where they know they have these bottlenecks while they work through them. So, you know, they're increasing the player experience and they obviously know they have some really long round times right now. But as they work through it and they gather their data. One of the guys there, he said, look, I want to send the beverage cart out when I see this pile up. Right. We'll serve drinks and and food and things like this, and we'll kind of distract the people from the pace of play while we work through it.
Charlie Birney: [00:11:50] That's what I was thinking. Yeah. Yeah.
Joey Walters: [00:11:52] Certainly same concept.
Charlie Birney: [00:11:53] I mean, why wouldn't you want to do that? It makes sense anyway. You can even let them have a free, you know, a free Coke or whatever, you know, because that's easy. And then it shows as a consumer, isn't that all we really want from our vendors is to show that they're trying a little harder than everybody else to make the experience better. And that's what this is, is I think Bodo said when we started. The biggest problem we've got is pace of play. Right now, we're lucky. And again, I think Bodo mentioned this. We have a resurgence of play. We have a pandemic-friendly sport. We have, you know, finally a chance for golf to get out of the underside of sort of this bad image. Sorry, folks, That it's had in the past. And now we need to maximize it. Bodo in the hotel, you probably know that's called heads on beds. You're trying to figure out how to maximize, you know, filling the roster here at Podville Media, we're trying to fill three studios I which they were, you know, filled three, 24 hours a day, but they can't be. So I think this is incredibly, tremendously exciting. And I'm sure our listeners who are having, you know, this maximum daily fee and finding probably both of you have heard stories, Joey, perhaps about people finding new gridlocks spots because of more play than previously used to.
Joey Walters: [00:13:02] Certainly. Yeah, very certainly. Aaron Hels is a prime example. And if they're fresh in my mind, because I just got back from a trip out there, the and talking with Jim Lombardo out there, the director of golf, he was able to analyze the data that they have and realized that their morning tee times are faster than their afternoon tee times. So they send people off an eleven-minute intervals in the mornings, because those are the people that are coming in and they're wanting to get on the course. You know, they want to play that course. The ones that are in the afternoon are typically people who stay on-site and they play slower.
Charlie Birney: [00:13:40] Oh, I got it.
Joey Walters: [00:13:40] To recognize that they had three extra tee slots in their day if they could sell and get people onto this course and maximize their course and maximize that experience.
Charlie Birney: [00:13:51] Yeah, that's really cool. You made me think of something else, too, Joey. That is really cool. My friend Jerry, who always asks for golf, if you know what I mean. He always, yeah, I love Jerry. I love you. I know you're not listening. Anyway, he always wants the earliest I can give him anywhere, period, because he just wants to play and get the hell out of there and go back and watch television. He's retired, so it's OK. I love you, Jerry. No, it's. That makes so much sense. Joey Now, guys, you're where can some of our listeners go and see and experience this without signing on? I've got a list here, so I'm trying to prompt you were some of the great courses that you guys are involved with now.
Bodo Sieber: [00:14:34] So we are currently work with over 350 clubs.
Charlie Birney: [00:14:38] Oh, my gosh. I didn't know that. Wow. Yeah, that's Awesome.
Bodo Sieber: [00:14:41] We have very fortunate and having over 30 of the top hundred. So it's the household names, your Pebble Beach all the way to Oakmont. So it's a high end private and the well-known sort of major hosting resort called Whistling Straits Pinehurst. What have you. So these guys are obviously in the driving seat as far as the industry is concerned, but. Our clubs are that middle of the road, 40 dollar green fee or the middle of the road, decent on the road. Private club or country club? Right. We all have the same challenge right there. The same challenge. The same problem that so true.
Charlie Birney: [00:15:12] Yeah. I played Pinehurst once and it destroyed me. And I can tell you, was that little pot bunker, you know, I couldn't get out of it. But we run a 36 hole golf course, Bodo, and I can see how incredibly useful this would be, just as Joey said, finding tee times. In an earlier part of my career. Joey and Bodo, I did a nine hole charity league. And if I could have had those tags or even the two way device so that I could communicate with a super, my plan was to always play. We played at 7:30 in the morning, but we played the back nine. So I wasn't trying to take a tee time that we could sell back to what Joey was saying about finding tee time. So I found nine holes. Now our 18 hole golf courses, the superintendent hated me because that's when they were maintaining the back nine. But on the 36, sure, I could do it because he might not be on one of those two. Right, 218. So I would play on the back nine. But it always would have been great if I could know how close the guys are getting to us, you know, because we didn't necessarily play fast. We were playing in Fivesomes as opposed to the time and drinking coffee and telling lots of bad golf jokes, because I have a lot of them. So but this gives you other creative abilities to manage those time slots. Right. I mean, you can do some other things that maybe some of our listeners haven't thought of yet with using parts of the golf course that you might be able to just sort of, I don't know, give lessons on for three hours. But you know exactly where the incoming crowd is at once.
Bodo Sieber: [00:16:31] So there are two things that many clubs are starting to do. You mentioned your friend Jerry, who likes the first round arch, right? So, well, if you can control the pace and you can get some buy in from the players are saying, I'm up for that. I want to play at 3:30. I want to play a quick round. Well, let's do the first five rounds. And now that round that your friend Jerry is willing to pay a bit more for because he wants first thought, well, let's give them five of them. Get there, Brian, and then we're going to manage them almost on a Fastlane basis. Right. So that works extremely well. And so it's not just the first stop, it's the first five times. And you can imagine what happens in terms of your capacity that you cannot find, because if the guys are playing at such a speed, you can shorten the intervals a little bit. You can find integral opportunities. Then other people are saying, well, we want to play a fast 9-hole, competition, twosomes, 90 minutes in and out, you know.
Charlie Birney: [00:17:23] Right.
Bodo Sieber: [00:17:23] And basically your scoring is tied to getting through at the time. Talk a little bit less. You talk after the, want a spirit, have a beer after, but we make sure that we get you out of here 90 minutes. Everybody plays a fantastic round. They're not thinking about the game too much.
Charlie Birney: [00:17:38] Right.
Bodo Sieber: [00:17:39] Actually. And improve their scores. Right.
Charlie Birney: [00:17:41] Right.
Bodo Sieber: [00:17:41] So all those things that you can do once you have the data and also once you know what's possible. And then you can market those to.
Charlie Birney: [00:17:49] So cool
Bodo Sieber: [00:17:50] Members, you can market this to your guests because it's no longer a one size fits all experience. Right. Golf is showing that to us. We got to do things a bit differently. And now you can segment.
Charlie Birney: [00:17:59] So true, yeah.
Bodo Sieber: [00:18:01] You can segment your times of day to suit certain players. Experience needs, right? Somebody likes to play half an hour or longer, have an extra few beers we'll invite you at those times. Somebody likes to fly through the course because that's when they can play more golf. Well, here, here's your tee time. We make sure that we make that happen for you. So it works really well. It's a fantastic opportunity to really now check in on that opportunity that's come our way with the players, right.
Charlie Birney: [00:18:26] Well, you make such a good point. And if I can, I'll go back to Jerry one more time since I again, I know he's not listening, but you're exactly right. Jerry is one of a bunch of a handful of people that every golf course has that actually competes to say how quickly they played and why not make them enjoy that, give them that opportunity on a golden platter. I love this. I had not thought of that. But that makes so much sense because I guarantee you, I can think of five names from Queenstown or the guys who just want to tell me how quickly they could play the golf course and if they could line up in the morning. What Bodo just said, I'm sorry, but that just is a lightning bolt that makes so much sense. And then, of course, there's the other side. Who was it, Jay from California, Jay Youngblood. I'm sorry, folks. I can't remember your name, Jay. And he would theme music for the day of the week at the driving range and around the Golf Shack. So it actually in that case, the wine and soft rock band things were probably a little slower. But maybe that's a case for looking at that and getting more beverage carts out. I don't know. Yes, but it seems to me there's a lot of really cool opportunities. I wish we could go into much greater depth than we really have time for today. Gentlemen, I'm so grateful to you. I can't wait to talk to our guy about it and then come out to one of the courses and see it in action. Sometimes I'm a real gearhead, so I love looking at the technology and I'm really grateful to you. You are a Brand new NGCOA partner, and I'm delighted to have you Bodo and Joey on the show today.
Joey Walters: [00:19:53] Thanks for having us, Charlie.
Charlie Birney: [00:19:54] Yeah. Is there anything that I missed before we sign off? Either one of you. I probably missed about a thousand things.
Joey Walters: [00:19:59] No, one thing I'll kind of leave with is, you know, if you don't mind, you know, it's more than just data for us. I think the data and really present challenges. You didn't know where they're making open your eyes. It can also do some other things for you. And everybody kind of uses the data to kind of tailor themselves to the way their course needs to run.
Charlie Birney: [00:20:20] Right.
Joey Walters: [00:20:20] An example of this is one of our courses in Florida. They're fairly new and they were concerned with having their members know that they're being tracked on a pace of play system. Now, obviously, the court wants to track the pace of play, they don't want to present that to their customers as a we're tracking you type of system.
Charlie Birney: [00:20:36] OK,
Joey Walters: [00:20:37] So I said here's here's some of the benefits. What if are you guys delivering food to the course, you know, because you don't have really a beverage cart girl. You're running food out. He goes, yeah. I said, well, now you know exactly where they're at. They don't have to call you and say, I'm on hold five and then you got to go out and search for maybe they're all dead or something. Right. But now you can have them in your system. Yeah. Right. You can go exactly to where they're at. You get them their food while it's hot. Their beverage is not watered down. And you know, also, you can if something happens on the course, because they do deal with some elderly folks at this particular course, if an emergency situation comes up, you know exactly where they're at.
Charlie Birney: [00:21:14] Right.
Joey Walters: [00:21:15] So you can get to them quickly.
Charlie Birney: [00:21:16] So heart attacks happen every day on the course.
Joey Walters: [00:21:19] Right. It's more you know, it's there's a lot of things you can do with the system and do with the data to tailor it to your own needs. Yeah. Which is exciting about that.
Charlie Birney: [00:21:27] It really is. And we got into Golf Bodo and Joey, our company, the company that I used to work in Golf with in, nineteen oh boy. We opened 1991 and there wasn't a computer around that, a spreadsheet. I had bought the first computer to our company in 1985, and it was an Atari 400 folks. So we were working on spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheets. And, you know, what was this thing we called an affinity program? I'd never heard that before, you know, so it's truly thrilling to see something like this, which is so as Joey said, I want to underline that this gives you data that allows you to create a maximum experience at your facility. So, I mean, I get it. And I just again, I hope everyone will take a look at this page that says webinars, because there's so much ideas just in the titles. And you'll get excited about which one of these you want to listen to, because there's a lot of hints about how you might use this in your own facility. I'm so grateful to you guys. Hope I get a chance to meet you, and I hope we get a chance to see one of these in action. It just seems like a really, really exciting product. Appreciate you and thanks for being on the show today.
Joey Walters: [00:22:35] Thank you so much, Charlie.
Charlie Birney: [00:22:36] Thanks, Joey. Thanks, Bodo. You bet. Thanks to Bodo and Joey. I am seriously amazed with the level of analysis and capability here. I really want to see one in action. Ok, on To Make Golf Your Thing. I'm so glad today to have Jeff Price and Charles Dillahunt, both with the PGA Of America, to talk about Make Golf Your Thing.