Crown Golf to tackle slow golfers31st October, 2013 by Alistair Dunsmuir
The biggest operator of golf clubs in the UK, Crown Golf, has introduced two major new schemes to boost memberships across its 25 golf clubs.
Crown Golf is trialing both pace of play software to root out slow golfers and a flexible membership programme to attract golfers who do not want to pay for unlimited access to a course.
Slow play is one of the most contentious issues in golf today. One of Crown Golf’s venues, Pine Ridge Golf Club in Surrey, is encouraging all visitors to download a free app to their smartphones that will track via GPS their pace of play and feed that information back to the pro shop.
The app will provide immediate data on every hole throughout the two-month trial, and will result in the pro shop alerting a marshal to advise golfers to increase their pace if slow play is flagged up on its computer.
“It is very important that clubs put measures in place to ensure that everyone gets around quickly,” said Elaine Jackson, the club’s general manager.
“Our customers understand that this trial is designed to help us identify any speed issues we might occasionally have with the golf course, and ultimately that this will make the Pine Ridge experience even better for them in the future.”
The club may even use the app, developed by Finnish firm GREENi, to make alterations to the course if it finds that certain holes are slowing players down.
Meanwhile, eight golf clubs that Crown Golf runs have introduced a flexible and reciprocal membership scheme called Freedom Play, which allows golfers to pay a low annual subscription in exchange for credits, which can then be redeemed against rounds of golf.
Members pay £295 and receive 250 credits, with green fees at Eccleston Park, The Bristol, Blue Mountain, The Hertfordshire, South Essex, Stapleford Abbotts, Oak Park and Merrist Wood golf clubs starting from one credit.
“Play at busy times and you use more credits, play when it’s quiet, and your credits go further,” said a spokesman for Crown Golf.
“You can play in club competitions, get a golf handicap, and you belong to the club just like a full member,” said Crown Golf CEO, Stephen Lewis. “It’s ideal if you’re one of the thousands of golfers in the UK who feels that they don’t play quite enough golf to justify a full annual membership.”
The £295 price was the original fee for being a member of the De Vere Club, Freedom Play’s rival with 12 golf clubs on board, but that has now been increased to £325.
Surrey golfer Geoff Husband says the Freedom Play scheme makes joining a golf club a less forbidding prospect.
“I think it’s a good way to get more involved at the club where you regularly play – £295 is a more reasonable price for someone like me who only plays a round three or four times a month.
“If I could play more often than that, then it would make sense to take up a full membership, but for now Freedom Play gives me the flexibility to play when I want, without the feeling that I am spending more than I need to on my golf. It’s a good balance, and fits the way my life is at the moment.”