Current Issue

  • Golf in the Digital World

    When Americans went on their coast-to-coast COVID-19 quarantines in March and locked down at home for the better part of three months, one of the few businesses that did not experience significant downturns was video conferencing technology services.Read More

  • Empower Your Golf Course Sales Professionals…Your Entire Staff

    If you own or operate a golf course, every employee that interacts with a customer is a sales professional, whether they know it or not.  It’s in your financial interest to make sure they DO know it! Read More

  • Addison Reserve Country Club Continues To Be Community Concierge

    The pandemic spawned countless innovations and inventions. Necessity will do that. From folding tables in parking lots while indoor dining was banned, to kids selling homemade hand sanitizers from their lemonade standsRead More


October 2020

Technology Enhances Golf at The Phoenician

Guests and Staff Benefit from Technological Options

By Sally J. Sportsman

At The Phoenician, in Scottsdale, Arizona, technology and personalized attention coexist. The 18-hole Phoenician Golf Course, in the Sonoran Desert, has initiated options for golfers to engage technologically during their rounds.
“People are slow to change,” says Erik Broca, PGA Director of Golf at The Phoenician.

Operationally, everything is visual and digital at the golf course, where 25-30% of golfers are resort guests. Before the onset of the coronavirus, over 50% of players booked their tee times online, according to Broca, while the other half preferred to call in. At the time of this writing, there were no pre-paid tee times.

A high-tech “experience” is installed on each cart, including GPS with a multimedia entertainment system. Golfers can watch clips, view live golf or listen to music. Food can be ordered on the 8th hole to be picked up at the turn. Alcohol is available.  

“We do take food orders in person,” Broca says. “I’d say 75% of golfers still stick their head in the window to order a hot dog.”

The reduction in the number of people who enter and spend time in the golf shop has affected revenue, Broca says, but the tee sheet has been full and the staff stays busy with green fees, “like a bank teller. Since the virus, there’s a lot less shopping going on.”

Another GPS feature is in-house advertising for the resort’s restaurants, tavern and shops.

“We use only our own ads; we don’t outsource,” says Broca. “We have no hard data to tell if it’s helpful.

“It can’t hurt. That’s the way I look at it.”

Operationally, the GPS system, which costs the resort $4 per cart, allows staff to manage pace of play. With an optimal playing time of four hours and 30 minutes, one hole equates to 15 minutes. At seven minutes over the expected playing time, a yellow cart signal is sent to the “back of the house,” at which time a staff member typically messages the golfer to please pick up the pace, or someone is sent out to deliver the message. If play extends to 14 minutes over, the cart signal turns red in the back of the house; the golfer then sees a warning and has to click the screen to return to yardages.

“You’ve got the tools; the hard part is doing it,” Broca says, in reference to using technology to operate the golf course. “The tech we have behind the scenes is pretty good, but we have to deploy it properly and guests have to adapt to it.”

“Easy-to-use makes it usable. Otherwise golfers say, ‘Why do I need to change from the old-school way?’”
One area where Broca notices occasional resistance to technology is during events. The Phoenician has state-of-the-art tournament software. All golfers need to do is enter their scores after each hole; the staff does the rest, creating a leaderboard that players can see on an app. Many golfers decline to record their scores, however.
“They forget, or they don’t know how, or they don’t want people to know how they’re doing,” says Broca. “We go out and remind them, which is usually effective.”

Broca affirms that technology has affected his job by making everything quicker, easier and more accurate. What hasn’t changed, though, is the overall experience for golfers.

“It’s all about social interaction and hitting that little white ball,” he says.



Leave a Comment

Yamaha Umax


Featured Resource

Bright Ideas Archive

Brought to you by ValleyCrest Golf MaintenanceBright Ideas Icon 
Access some of the most creative ideas golf course owners and operators have to offer within the Bright Ideas area of the GB Archive.Read More



Connect With Us

facebooktwitterNGCOABuyers GuideYouTube