The Scottish Golf Union has created the world’s first dynamic national internet golf service. The launch of the SGU Golf Central website, which will make golf more accessible for Scots of all ages, from school children to pensioners, will revolutionise the way Scots and overseas golfers organise their playing in the Home of Golf.
The website – which has been 18 months in the making – aims to increase visitors to the 350 Scottish clubs that have signed up so far, and help to grow golf tourism, which is already worth over £300 million-a-year to Scotland. It will provide a fully comprehensive list of open golf competitions across the country and the first ever easy to use guide for golfers to search for membership vacancies.
Within three clicks of a computer mouse, SGU Golf Central can let the user know which clubs have membership vacancies for all categories of member, whether the golfer is searching for men’s, ladies, seniors or juniors. The service also provides a number of tools for golf club managers and secretaries to help improve communication with members and visitors alike.
SGU chief executive Hamish Grey said, “The sky is the limit for SGU Golf Central. For the first time ever golfers all over the world from Texas to Troon will be able to book their golf direct with any of the Scottish clubs that have signed up. It will be a huge boon to those clubs and the Scottish economy, because wherever golfers go they spend money.”
Mr Grey added that the website will play a key role in bringing more Scots of all ages into the game. He explained, “Growing the game is a key part of the SGU’s strategy and through our unique membership search tools, golfers will be able to quickly find out which clubs they can join. The perception remains that golf is inaccessible and expensive, whereas in reality the opposite is often true.
“In the last ten years, the number of golf courses has increased by nearly 20% whilst membership has risen by 5%, and just over 1% in the last two years. As a result the membership has been spread thinner, opening up more capacity in many golf clubs. SGU Golf Central will support our clubs in their marketing to potential new members on a national scale.”
Part of the SGU’s remit with the development of the website was to help clubs combat the growing issue of discount or 2-for-1 golf schemes and SGU Golf Central offers a tool which puts the clubs in 100% control of their visitor golf offering. Through the website, members of SGU affiliated clubs will be able to access preferential green fee rates at many participating clubs, adding value to being a member of a golf club.
The SGU are also encouraging Scotland’s golfers to participate in more competitive golf and to try out other golf courses across the country. The new website will offer a listing of all club open competitions in Scotland, with men’s, ladies, juniors, seniors and mixed opens detailed, with the opportunity to download entry forms on-line and access draws and results.
“There are now 550 golf courses in Scotland and we obviously have a huge choice here at the Home of Golf. Club open competitions are a great way of playing golf at other courses, and the seniors’ circuit in particular is booming. With SGU Golf Central, we’re bringing a great service to members and visitors alike on-line, making it easier for the ordinary golfer to enter competitions.”
The new website incorporates unique technology, using geographical rather than alphabetical search functions. The user can choose from a radius of 10, 25 or 50 miles and the website will automatically list the clubs available within that radius, depending on the search.
SGU Golf Central is also unique in that clubs were involved in every part of the development process. A working group of 13 golf clubs from across the country took part in an ongoing feedback programme, whilst nearly 30 regional training seminars have taken place over the last five months. More than 350 clubs have now updated the website with their dynamic information on memberships, open competitions and visitor golf packages.
“The SGU have given the golf clubs of Scotland an excellent new service with the development of the SGU Golf Central website. Not only will the website help me promote my club to hundreds of thousands of golfers, it also provides valuable management and communication tools for our business,” said Norman Dyce, secretary of Kirriemuir Golf Club. “We can tailor our visitor packages depending on the audience and the time of year, whilst our members will benefit from many of the features within the site, adding value to being a member of our golf club.”
SGU Golf Central has been running a pilot website in recent months, and already clubs have received more than one thousand entries to their open competitions and many membership enquiries. The new service can be located on the existing SGU website at www.scottishgolfunion.org, which has already generated an average of 10,000 unique users per month in the last year, resulting in an 80% increase in traffic.
Mr Grey added, “Our key objective through the launch of SGU Golf Central is to provide the best guide to golfing in Scotland for the ordinary club golfer and visitor. The website also supports our member clubs by helping them market their businesses, cross-sell their products and services and communicate to their customers. As a result of all its functions, SGU Golf Central will help us grow the game in Scotland.”
SGU Golf Central is located at www.scottishgolfunion.org