English pay and play trials anti-slow play smartphone app


English pay and play trials anti-slow play smartphone app
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

TŒhe UK’s largest golf course group is using new Finnish technology to tackle the problem of excessively slow play.

Crown Golf, which operates 25 courses across the UK, has started a two month trial of the new Greeni pace of play software at its pay and play Pine Ridge course in Surrey.

During the trial, golfers who pay a green fee at Pine Ridge are being encouraged to download the free Greeni Club app onto an Apple or Android smart phone. Once activated, the app tracks the group around the golf course, giving the Pine Ridge pro shop team real-time information about their speed of play.

The app, which runs silently on the golfer’s phone, only needs to be installed by one player in each group. It uses the phone’s GPS signal to monitor the group as they play their round.

As the roundage builds up, Greeni stores data from every hole played in its cloud, and this is made available as a weekly report for the golf club.

“A golf course builds its reputation over a number of years,” said Pine Ridge GM Elaine Jackson. “While it's great to be popular, it is very important that clubs put measures in place to ensure that everyone gets around quickly. Greeni is already giving us instant insights into the pace of play on our golf course, and we are looking forward to analysing the data it will give us.”

Greeni’s Steve Schindler says the system can not only help clubs battle the slowcoaches, but can also have more far-reaching uses. “Pine Ridge is a good example of the ideal Greeni club” he said. “The second hole is quite tough, and it can often take far longer to play than the relatively simple opening hole, despite the fact that both are par fours. By using Greeni, the club can demonstrate the average playing times for each hole quite scientifically, and this may help build a business case for possible pace-quickening course alterations in the future.”

Prior to the trial, Pine Ridge gave average per-hole playing times to Greeni’s engineers, who used these times to set up a ‘traffic light’ style warning system on one of the club’s pro shop PCs. On the screen, groups are colour-coded: green denotes a group moving at a good pace; an amber group is dropping behind, and at this point a marshal is alerted to advise them to increase speed to avoid dropping into the red category, where a group is seriously holding up play. As each round is completed, the average per-hole times are updated, giving the club accurate data about the playing characteristics of each hole. Golfers can also access front-middle-back yardages on their smartphone via the app, as well as storing scores online.