Golf leagues are extremely important to facilities and the main purpose is to create a community atmosphere where the club operators, league managers, and players all leave with smiles on their face.
For a golf facility, Leagues bring new players into the game and expose the course, create customer loyalty via memberships or green fees, increase food and beverage sales, and increase pro shop
revenue. There are many golf facilities that manage up to 3 or 4 leagues with another handful of independent leagues or weekly groups being hosted at the facility.
For league members, a golf league should be social yet competitive and add an element of game improvement through statistics and handicapping. Participants like to be treated with respect and deserve a wonderful experience each and every week of the season (break down the average amount of dollars spent per league player and ask yourself if they're receiving that value). Players of the league are slightly selfish and enjoy personal achievements therefore a season long game that rewards both individual and team is vital...
The five factors listed are here to help facilities and independent league managers implement some new and engaging aspects to create a successful golf league. If you have any further ideas or practices already being used, please feel free to comment below.
Factor #1: Web Based Golf Scoring Software
If you're still using a homemade Excel spreadsheet or PC based golf scoring solution to manage your league, you're making life very difficult on yourself.
We should all be familiar with web based solutions as we ultimately use them every time we visit a web site or web page.
The difference between PC based and web based is simple. PC based you download software to your computer or network of computers. Each download or number of computers will cost the user a licensing fee. Web based solutions are generally a one time subscription fee based on usage and asks the user for a login and password to access their information. They can be accessed anywhere internet networks are available.
League data is all kept "in the cloud" in one secure place for league managers. The account can have multiple administrators assigned and they can all access the information at the same time from multiple devices.
Golf League Genius allows for managers to control every aspect of the league including league settings, weekly formats, season long events, weekly tee sheets, email to golfers, season schedule, player roster management, handicapping, league website, leaderboard adjustments, scorecards, cart signs and much more.
Bottom line: Any software that's being used should free up time and allow professionals and managers to do what they're suppose to do on league nights. They should be selling, socializing, and even playing, not stuck behind a computer with too many countless steps and frustrating errors.
In the old days we use to display event results via large handwritten leaderboards (which all golf professionals and assistants' dread doing and make countless mistakes).
We then progressed to displaying and posting results via Word documents or Excel spreadsheets and these were only available a day or two after in locker rooms, club bulletin boards, or by the handicap computer.
But now, this day in age we have the ability at our fingertips to display HD leaderboards on grille room screens, pro shop TVs, locker room screens, Personal Computers, and mobile devices to give participants and viewers immediate results. These live leaderboards are auto refreshed every 10 seconds to display the most current in progress results. The scores are either posted by league managers after a group's round is complete or it can be set up so a player can keep the score via a mobile device for the group.
Bottom line: Live scoring and live interactive TV displays truly engage participants longer at the facility and it will keep the food coming out of the kitchen and the beer flowing from the taps. Not to mention, guys and gals love to see their name on a nice big screen or share it with their social networks.
Factor #3: Handicap Integration to Association Standards
This means we encourage all leagues and events to use a handicap program that is in direct line with the desired National Golf Association Handicapping Standards. If you're currently using a rolling average, or modified handicap equation for your league nights, then you're not giving players the fairest opportunity against the field.
The governing bodies of golf lay down handicap equations to give each person an equal opportunity to compete. Make sure any scoring system you're using has the ability to integrate with a handicap system that uses national standards.
Most of the time those modified equations are put in use for simplicity. They're simple to explain to league members and easy for managers to update, but they're not accurate and lead to biased results over time.
Golf League Genius fully integrates with GHIN and GolfNet (Golf Canada Score Centre) and is done in two easy clicks of the mouse or taps of the screen. In some cases facilities like to keep a league handicap that is separate from a player's actual Association handicap. HandicapServer.com is now available and uses Association Standard 9 and 18 hole equations to calculate league handicaps and fully supports nine hole league handicapping.
Bottom Line: Don't get trapped in quick handicap fixes for your league. Give everyone an equal chance to compete. League members pay a fair amount of money throughout the season. They expect the league to not cut corners and produce the most accurate results.
Factor #4: A Custom League Website With Full Control Over Content
A league website is a powerful tool.
It opens the doors to many possibilities with regards to social sharing, online leaderboards, increase in sponsorships, community building, and league branding.
The most important aspect when looking at website builders or web companies is how much control will they give you and how easy it is to edit. Ideally we want 100% control of the content and what messages to display at any given time. A web builder should give you a template and the rest is how far one's imagination can take it.
The league website, or pages within, should be branded to your liking and have the same voice and feel of what your club standards/traditions are. Within Golf League Genius you have the ability to embed many league specific pages into your current club website to keep viewers and members on the site and not pushed to a completely different looking third party.
A league website should have:
- Real time results available
- Final weekly standings
- Tee sheets
- Player and course statistics
- Photo galleries
The points mentioned above should automatically be updated on event days with simple gross score entry. These features ultimately keep viewers on the site longer and increases the value of league sponsorship. Golf League Genius has a great custom website builder that also allows managers to create sponsor pages, event/league information pages, rules pages, and bulletin messages via text and collage builders.
Bottom LIne: A league website is extremely important for posting results and allowing members to view standings, tee sheets, and league statistics. This in the end eliminates those annoying phone calls or emails asking "Who won?" or "What's my handicap this week?" Each and every player will have up to the minute results on any device anywhere in the world. One simple URL and all the information a member will need is right in front of them. League Sponsors will love the added exposure through a league website and will likely be open to adding more to their sponsorship if asked.
I've played in a number of tournaments over my career and have also played the last 7 years in two different leagues. As a player, a very common complaint at both competitive events and socially competitive leagues is "It isn't fun when the same people always win."
In order for a league to be successful, a player that participates in 80% of the weeks should win something at some point in the season. If over 60% of your league members are not winning some sort of prize for their efforts during the season (Sponsor giveaways and free league swag don't count), then you may want to explore the introduction of multiple weekly formats.
Players love to be rewarded for the times they play well and to often the handicap system is blamed for winner biases. This is seldom the case for as long as the handicap calculation is done by the way of association handicap equations. Many tournament formats cater to different caliber of players.
Golf League Genius allows league managers to play multiple weekly formats and auto include these each week. Also, you can keep season long point races for different flights and divisions. In the example below, which is a fully click-able and interactive embedded iframe, we see the variety of games introduced to multiple divisions and player types. This jumped the league from handing out 5 individual net prizes each night, to handing out 9 individual net prizes, gross skin winners, and gross division winners.
At the end of the season only 9 of the 78 players walked away empty handed in this particular league. However, of those nine players only one participated in over 60% of the weeks with 14 of 22 instances. The overall average of those nine players was only 8 weeks out of 22 played. Next season, this league is looking at incorporating an individual season long FedEx Cup style point race to compliment the current roster of events and to add more for the players.
Bottom Line: Multiple formats, season long point races, and team challenges encourage participation without just enabling participation points to get members to play. This adds more value to the league as players of all levels have more chances to win.