Golf club technology failings revealed

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 22, 2013 10:32

A new survey has found that just 12 percent of golf clubs have mobile-optimised websites and most golf club managers do not even know how their website performs on a smartphone, as golf club technology failings have been revealed.

A poll of 245 golf club managers by The Golf Club Secretary found that just 38 percent believed that their club’s website was responsive on a smartphone or tablet screen – in that the content automatically resizes itself to suit a smaller screen.

However, when those managers’ websites were analysed, it turned out that approximately two-thirds of them were not, in fact, responsive at all, even though modern technology exists to make this a relatively easy process.

This means that just 12 percent of golf clubs have websites that have been optimised to work on phones or tablets – despite the fact that surveys this year have found that well over a third of people in the UK now carry out more online activity on these devices than on a PC, Mac, laptop or notebook computer, and this is a rapidly rising trend.

It also suggests that, as 28.5 percent of managers said they did not even know if their club’s website was responsive on a phone or tablet, and seven percent failed to answer that particular question, that the majority of golf club managers do not know how their website performs on a phone or tablet.

Perhaps more worryingly for clubs, 33 percent of them said that they rely on the mobile version of their website to engage with their members – even though for the vast majority on them, their site is not as user-friendly as it could be.

Less than 10 percent of clubs have also developed a website specifically for mobile phones or tablets, and nearly half of all golf clubs (44 percent) rely on a local person or company, or somebody in-house such as a member, to provide and support their website.

Elsewhere, the survey found that just under two-thirds of golf clubs have a social media profile, with exactly half having a Facebook page and 53 percent a Twitter feed. Only six percent have a YouTube page and less than five percent have a Google+ profile however – even though both of these are very useful for search engine optimisation.

More than 90 percent of golf clubs said that having an app would be ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’ useful for them.

“Some elite golf clubs can cope without keeping up with modern technology,” said an industry analyst.

“In fact I know of one that refuses to have a website that carries any information at all for non-members, and another that even refuses to engage digitally with its members!

“But for the vast majority of golf clubs it is essential to keep up with technological trends – that’s why so many are getting apps and so many are on Facebook and Twitter.

“But other social media sites, such as YouTube and TripAdvisor, might be even more effective ways to fulfil a marketing strategy. And, above all, while some clubs have got fantastic websites that perform superbly on every relevant platform from phone to TV, many still do not and, these days, if your site doesn’t perform well on a smartphone or tablet, then you risk losing custom.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 22, 2013 10:32
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  1. Paul Mainstone August 29, 09:09

    Your excellent showcase of websites and apps in the July edition of Golf Club Management (page 20) was very welcome. Anyone struggling to keep up with the latest developments in mobile technology needs all the help and information they can get.

    But the explanation of the different types of websites and apps was less than complete and may not have served to demystify the picture. Your readers may find the following quick exploration of some of the terminology and technology a helpful way of learning how to ask the right questions of the suppliers when considering their products.

    Website. This is familiar concept. But to see an example, open your web browser and make it display full screen. Type into the browser address bar. You will find lots of goods to browse and buy. All this is fairly straightforward and many people shop online in just this way.

    Responsive website. This type of website is relatively new. To test one out, first go to a non-responsive website such as Now resize your web browser so that it is quite small, say about the size of an iPhone display. The site now becomes difficult to use as you need to manipulate the scroll bars to move around.

    Don’t change your browser screen size yet, but go back to You will see that the banner at the top has changed. The scroll bar at the bottom has been removed. There is now a menu (three horizontal parallel lines at the left hand end of the menu bar). As you scroll down you will see that all the content has been stacked.

    Alternatively, you can use the menu icon to browse around the site. Do the same on your smartphone and you will see that you are using exactly the same website. This is a responsive website. The main benefits are that the website owner has to maintain only one website rather than producing a separate website for each device, as the website adapts itself to the device on which it is accessed, and that Google has only one website to look at, which improves your search engine optimisation (SEO) score.

    Mobile websites and mobile website apps. These have been around for a while. They are available on any device that has a browser, including a smartphone. They must have an internet connection. But they can go a step or two further than a responsive website. They are able to use some of the functions on your phone.

    The phone knows where you are, and can make phone calls. Get your smartphone out and open the web browser. Go to and scroll to the bottom where you will find ‘STORE FINDER’. Click on it. The phone will ask your permission to use your location. Say yes. It will then show you where you are by using the GPS facility on your phone. Now click the menu icon at the top right of the display and you will see a list of locations and distances. Select one of the locations and you will get details of, and the chance to look at, the destination in Google Maps.

    The most common smartphone features available on most smartphones may also be accessed. Smartphone functions are implemented using jScript or Java Script. When the website functions are used in a smartphone the jScript language is converted to the native language of the smartphone. Using this approach means it is possible to build these mobile websites into an app.

    The drawback is that only common basic smartphone features may be used and they are slow in comparison to apps (or native apps), which are likely to provide the basis for future developments.

    Mobile app (or native app). A mobile app is something that is normally downloaded from the Apple, Google Play or Samsung Apps stores. It resides on your smartphone. It runs in ‘native’ mode, meaning it is a lot quicker than anything using jScript.

    You can launch it from your smartphone. It does not need, though it may use, a web browser. The app will need to talk over the internet at some time. Some apps require an internet connection at all times, but others, such as games, work partly off-line, but still need an internet connection for updates and messages.

    Apps cannot readily store a lot of constantly changing information, such as a membership list, or a bar account, and will rely on connections to various websites to provide that information. This means that to be fully functional, apps need access to the internet. If you are considering using an app, you must make sure that the functions that you define in your app will work in the environment where your golfers are.

    A poor mobile signal at the club may cause problems using the app. If that is the case, make sure you install a decent wi-fi service in the clubhouse. Apps can provide a proactive form of communication with your golf members and visitors, and with responsive websites are likely to supersede the more passive form of communication provided by websites, mobile websites and mobile website apps, particularly for younger generations of golfers.

    Apps also provide an excellent mechanism for collecting data such as email addresses and can enable you to be proactive in your marketing activity.

    Paul Mainstone
    Mainstone Associates

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  2. @TOHospitality August 27, 00:46

    A new survey reveals that only 12% of golf clubs have mobile-optimised websites: #GolfClub #GolfManagement @gcm_mag

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  3. Richard Peabody August 24, 18:24

    CSiSites from Club Systems were commended in the original article for being responsive.

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  4. Edward Saxel (@ispygolfpro) August 23, 12:55

    Websites, tablets, and mobile technology… too many golf clubs struggling with them

    Reply to this comment
  5. Pro Golf Group (@ProGolfGroup) August 22, 12:03

    Golf Club technology failings revealed #GolfBusiness

    Reply to this comment
  6. Golf Club Management (@GCM_mag) August 22, 11:39

    #GolfClubManagement Golf club technology failings revealed

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