The idea behind Tagmarshal, an innovative system that helps leading golf courses like Erin Hills and Kiawah manage their course pace, started with a friend’s complaint about an exceedingly slow round of golf.
The grievance was aired to Bodo Sieber, a South African technology specialist whose expertise is business intelligence and data science. Sieber’s friend was annoyed by golfer traffic jams caused by slow groups or improper tee time management.
Soon Sieber was investigating whether existing technology had been employed to address pace of play. His research come up short. But he discovered 74 percent of golfers believe pace of play is essential to enjoy their round.
Enter Tagmarshal, tracking software that allows course employees to monitor and address potential delays in real-time. For instance, Tagmarshal can notify course employees immediately when a golfer has teed off and where a playing group is located.
“It allows the course to provide non-confrontational support,” Sieber says. “That’s the beauty of it. If a course adopts the system well, it can really be preemptive and have hardly any issues.”
Tagmarshal is being utilized by courses in locations as far flung as China, Scotland and Spain. But the company’s marketing push was designed to find early adopters in the United States. The first American club to incorporate the system was Erin Hills in Wisconsin—host of the 2017 U.S. Open.
Data Pays Off
Because Erin Hills is a walking course, head golf pro Jim Lombardo had struggled to track groups and streamline the experience. In just seven months, golfers were seeing more efficient rounds at Erin Hills. The course has netted an extra $115,000 because Tagmarshal allows for an extra tee time on the course’s busiest days.
Other top courses—notably Valhalla in Kentucky, Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and Kiawah Island in South Carolina—have also ordered Tagmarshal. Each club has praised the system.
“The good thing for us is that our early adopters really want to be progressive, they want to be innovative, and they want to grow and change their guest experience for the better,” Sieber says.
Because Tagmarshal is data-driven, pros like Lombardo have discovered a host of uses for the information. These include identifying traffic hot spots for more effective course maintenance or to customize golfers’ experiences.
“Players and caddies are now accountable for their pace of play, and they understand better how it affects others,” says Lombardo. “You have hard facts that you can use to educate people and help them improve, and the guess work is taken out of the equation. You can answer so many questions that you probably would not have been able to answer in the past.”