April 02, 2004

Golf Kiosks

TeePod kiosks tickle golfers

Mesa course among 1st with system

The Arizona Republic
Apr. 1, 2004 12:00 AM

You know your best buddy is playing today at Dobson Ranch Golf Club, and you wonder how he's getting along with his new clubs.

With the help of the TeePod system being used at the Mesa municipal course, you won't have to wait until he's finished to find out. By using your personal computer, you can call up his score in real time.

TeePod system
Computerized kiosks near every tee allow players to keep score, track other players, order food and beverages or call for help. System can also be accessed from personal computers to book tee times.

Dobson Ranch Golf Club in Mesa was the second course in the nation to install the system, and the only one in Arizona.

Developed by 4everSports in Nova Scotia, the system cost $85,000 to install, but some of that is offset by advertising that appears on the touch screens and Web site and by added revenue that comes from online tee-time bookings. Golfers don't pay anything extra to use the system.

How it works
Golfers receive a code number, corresponding to their name, when checking in.

At each tee, they enter the code number and their score for the previous hole on a kiosk using a touch screen. They also can call for help or a beverage cart, notify the pro shop about a lost club, disabled cart or other problems.

After using the TeePod for 10 rounds, it automatically determines a player's handicap and can compile figures on fairways hit, greens in regulation and other stats.

During the round, the kiosks display a real-time scoreboard for everyone using the TeePod that day.

That's one of the many features of the scoring system installed at Dobson Ranch a year ago. It has become a hit with many of its golfers.

"It's a wonderful system," winter resident Ray Gall said as he and his wife, Nancy, played the course last week. "To have something like this at a municipal course is quite a novelty. We have a lot of fun with it."

The city-owned course was the second in the nation to install the system (a third was installed last month at Landmark Golf Club, the former home of the PGA Tour's Skins Game, in Indio, Calif.).

It uses a network of touch-screen kiosks near each tee, where golfers can enter their scores. In addition to keeping running scores, it also allows golfers to track scores of other players, order food and beverages and call for help.

Once off the course, golfers can use it to reserve tee times, determine a handicap index and keep track of their statistics, such as greens in regulation, fairways hit and putting.

For David Gorman of Mesa, who plays the course several times a week, one of the best features is comparing his score with others who are on the course that day. At the kiosks, it shows the scores of all players who have signed on, which is especially useful for tournaments.

"I hope they never get rid of it," Gorman said. "I use it every time I play. You can go home, get on the Internet and take a look at all of your scores and stats, and get an idea of what you're doing well and not so well. What I really like is being able to take a quick look and see how you're doing compared with other players. It just makes golf a little more fun."

Golf director Jim Gentry said the biggest challenge with the system is educating golfers about its use. He said about 35 percent of players use it at a course that logs about 80,000 golf rounds per year.

"Some people are still resistant to technology, but this being the communication age, I think it's where golf is headed," Gentry said

"They have simplified it so much with touch screens that it's really easy to use, and once people try it, they seem to love it. "

Contrary to concerns about slowing play, Gentry said it actually speeds up play, partly because golfers must go to the next tee to enter scores instead of filling out score cards on or beside the greens. It takes about 15 seconds to enter scores for a foursome, and Gorman pointed out that one player can do that while the others are teeing off.

The system also alerts the pro shop if a group is lagging behind on the course, based on the time it takes between score postings.

As for "drawbacks," there is the potential for one:

"If your wife really wants to keep track of you, she can go on the Internet and see if you're playing and how many holes you've completed," Gorman said. "Some guys might not be crazy about that."

TeePod kiosks tickle golfers

Posted by Craig at April 2, 2004 04:33 PM