A Europe-wide roll-out of an on-line system which will revolutionise the way golfers without a club affiliation experience their golf, is set to provide a much-needed boost to clubs increasingly reliant on visitor green-fees.
The free-to-use Golfingindex.com is designed to be the on-line home for unattached golfers and provides essential and valuable tools which enable them to experience, analyse and compare their golf to a hitherto unavailable degree.
What’s more, using a complimentary, digital ‘Signinbook’ clubs retain details of visiting golfers and are able to communicate directly with them. It is hoped this will make visitors feel more attached to the clubs and help reverse the trend of a reduction in licensed players/club members, highlighted by a drop of nearly two percent in Europe in 2014* – and also to remove the stigma often associated with being a ‘nomadic’ golfer, a pejorative term created by statisticians.
The Golfingindex is produced and hosted by HowDidiDo, Europe’s largest golfing community – which already holds the handicaps, results and scores of more than 1,300,000 UK golf club members – and powered by Club Systems International (CSI), which provides administration software for around 2,000 UK&I golf clubs.
Golfingindex’s analysis and benchmarking uses ‘par’ instead of SSS or CSS, as ‘par’ is a concept understood and utilised by all golfers worldwide, who may not be familiar with the complexities of SSS and CSS. It is, therefore, ideal for use in all countries which is why the initial launch covers Europe.
Richard Peabody, managing director of CSI, explained: “It is conservatively estimated there are more than 1,000,000 unattached golfers in the UK&I alone, with many putting the figure as high as three times that. This has always been an issue for clubs – but the launch of Golfingindex changes that.
“Clubs can now communicate with visiting golfers in much the same way they do with their members, which means unattached golfers use the clubs more often and feel valued – ultimately, they may see membership as something to aspire to.
“All golfers – be they members or visitors – need courses to play and this tool enables those clubs to target golfers directly. It’s much more focussed and cost-effective than local advertising, not least because it doesn’t cost anything to operate.
“And because the system is easy to use and to comprehend, owing to its use of ‘par’, it is not limited to national boundaries, so golfers can use it in any country, at any club. What’s more, the clubs will also be able to access the database of golf societies that will prove comprehensive through day-to-day use of the system.”
Golfingindex uses the same market-leading technology and processes that power HowDidiDo. Visiting golfers are encouraged to sign the club’s digital visitors’ book, which then generates a Golfingindex card, to be used on subsequent visits to the club or any other club using the ‘Signinbook’. Clubs are then able to build up their own database of genuine golfers enabling them to market green-fee offers, products, lessons and even memberships to people they know have visited the course previously, and to have an assessment of their ability level.
For the unattached golfer, the benefits of Golfingindex are manifold – not just the Index which enables them to enjoy the much-vaunted ‘level playing field’. These include the mechanism to build a profile of one’s own game; post round scores; garner advanced statistics; to compare performance with like-minded friends; and to read and post course reviews.
Golfingindex is also a perfect tool for golf society organisers who can use it to communicate with society members; manage and publish the results; create a standard society ‘handicap’ calculation for each member; review courses; create single or multi-round trips; and provide an online portal and home for each individual society.
Peabody added: “Traditionally, unattached golfers – the term ‘nomad’ gives completely the wrong impression – did not have access to the sort of statistics and profile data enjoyed by members using HowDidiDo. So we have addressed that and designed the Golfingindex to provide everything we can for the visiting golfer.
“In terms of creating a level playing field for all golfers it is the biggest thing to happen to the sport since handicapping was introduced.”
Signinbooks are available free-of-charge to clubs utilising swingSURE™ insurance services and anybody registering a Golfingindex card, goes into a monthly draw to win a holiday from partner Your Golf Travel.
The beta version of Golfingindex opened on July 1, with the first club, Frilford Heath, in Oxfordshire, going ‘live’ with Signinbook a week later.
*Figures taken from KPMG Golf Participation in Europe 2015 (golfbenchmark.com)