In this increasingly digital world, everyone is expected to be tech savvy – that we all aspire to adopt the apps and are forever grateful for any online solution.
In many, if not most, cases, the internet and smart devices have simplified our lives, given us information at our fingertips, the ability to buy and sell goods at the touch of a button, make reservations, plan, organize and streamline daily life. alive.
But the technology has limits – it sometimes breaks down and, as it has replaced humans in many cases, when it breaks there is often no backup. When British Airways’ digital check-in systems go awry, pandemonium ensues at Heathrow as reduced staff cannot cope. When online banking goes down, the helpline is saturated. Digital solutions are brilliant when they work, not so good when they don’t.
Since the introduction of the World Handicap System (WHS) and, spurred on by the pandemic, golf has rushed towards digital booking and score-entry systems. On the face of it, these are the way to go, but there are a few reasons why they aren’t for everyone. Here we look at the pros and cons of golf’s digital revolution.
Pro – A Fair System
In the old days of golf, the booking sheet for most clubs was handled by the pro’s store (or perhaps a starter at more prestigious venues.) You made a phone call or, it sounds amazing today. today, but you may have even dropped by to talk to someone face to face to book a time. The problem with the old system was that the tee sheet started to look too predictable each week – members took the same time every Saturday morning, either rebooking at check-in or ensuring that tame member of staff guarded their slot just for them.
The new online booking systems mean that every member has the same chance and right to take all the time available to members on the booking sheet. It’s a much fairer way of doing things – a lot less closed.
Con – Fastest finger-first shot
The battle to book times has changed. The goal is no longer to dominate and monopolize, it’s now to win the shootout on your smart device or keyboard. The tee sheet for a given day will open at a set time and members will be ready to strike. If you’re not on the case at the exact time, you may find that all times are blocked before you have a chance to log in.
Often times people book times according to specifications, not even sure they can play – they just want the option. At many clubs, the full tee sheets start to show gaps as the day draws nearer and people who made reservations a week or two earlier find they can’t make it. At that point, those who originally missed made other plans, and times go wild.
Also, there are still members in most clubs who don’t use smart phones or the internet – They tend to miss out because by the time they can call to book direct, all times have been taken .
Advantage – Less paperwork
When it comes to entering scores, entering scores on a smart device should streamline processes for club administrators. There are no scoreboards to manage (also an environmental benefit), there is no checking for unreadable scores and ineligible doodles, logging in is easier, there is an in-game leaderboard, and there is easier to produce final results, there are automatic handicap adjustments, club event notifications… there are lots of positives to be had.
Con – Not quite as streamlined
But at the average golf club, a good percentage of members aren’t as tech-savvy as the developer of the app that produced the score-entry system. Since the advent of app-based score capture, the professional or administrator of many clubs has found themselves spending hours of their day educating and helping members use the technology. The idea is good but the reality of teaching the senior section how to connect, select the right tees, the right tournament etc… is a little less simple.
Many clubs (including the author’s) chose this year to revert to a slightly simpler version that does not require the use of smart devices. We check in/check in at a terminal in the pro shop, mark our cards the good old fashioned way, write our playing partner’s score with a pencil, then once everything is agreed, we enter our own score either at the terminal in the shop or another located in the clubhouse. It is still a digital system, but the individual does not have to have (or be able to) use the necessary technology on their own phone. Seems fairer to me – Not everyone wants to mess with their phone along the way.
Pro – General Play at will
Apps that allow us to enter WHS General Play scores mean that we can travel to any course across the country and sign up to return a General Play score that will count towards our handicap. It’s a great addition for golf and really keeps the WHS working as it should. It’s simple and straightforward to select the course you’re playing, select tee times and enter your score. The higher the overall game scores, the more your WHS Handicap will reflect your current game ability. It also gives you something else to play outside of the competition.
Con – General play at will
Golf is a game of integrity and we like to think that all golfers play by the rules, all the time. But let’s face it, we’ve all had our doubts about the weird thing we’ve seen in our years of golf. General The game score through the mobile app is undoubtedly open to abuse – Playing with friends outside the competition… good scores happen… It is inevitable that suspicions will be raised from time to time. In my club this year, if we make a General Play score, we must connect to the terminal of the pro-shop according to a comp – a clear and definitive pre-registration, then we must enter our score in this terminal or that of the club- house and put a signed card in the punch card box – this takes the guesswork out of the process and I think it’s a good idea.
Technology in golf improves the playing experience and simplifies processes for players and administrators. But some elements of the available systems require some tweaking and a degree of flexibility to accommodate the less tech-savvy and ensure everyone sticks to the rules.