Golf Course Management

APR 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 41 of 165

40 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.14 Whether it's a frost delay, a sudden rain- storm, an unexpected course closure or simply the need to update golfers about an ongoing course project, time is important when com - municating with your members or core golf- ers. And although I shy away from specifc mentions of the operations at my facility in these columns, our course can provide a good example of a tool that will allow you to ac - complish this. We have a group of members that tee off as early as 5:30 a.m. on a daily basis. They're up at 4 a.m., and out the door and heading to the golf course by 5. Our staff gets to the golf course around 4:45 a.m., but there are days when these early birds tee off before we even mow our frst green. Because the pro shop does not open until 6, we can't use those folks to communicate with golfers wanting to play that early. We needed a way to communicate effec - tively with that part of our membership, and when I say "effective," I mean communicating in a timely, relevant and effcient manner (we don't have any desire to call each of these mem - bers individually). Our club has a predominantly older mem - bership that tends to not be the most comput- er-savvy group in the world. Still, we wanted to fnd a way to communicate with members through our club's website for those mem - bers who wanted to use that method. We also wanted to fnd a way to take advantage of the cell phones that almost all of our members use. The answer we came up with that addressed both methods was Twitter. With Twitter, we are able to update the member's website at any moment, send text message alerts to those who wish to get them on their cell phones, and we can do all of this from the golf course in a short amount of time. As soon as we determine in the morning whether there will be frost delays, rain delays or even if the course will be cart-path only for that day, either I or one of my assistants can type a quick message on a cell phone. That message is then sent to the club's website and Twitter account and also generates a text message to members, all within a matter of seconds. This allows the dew sweepers to grab breakfast or stay at home if we have a delay, and it reduces With Twitter, we are able to update the member's website at any moment, send text message alerts to those who wish to get them on their cell phones, and we can do all of this from the golf course in a short amount of time. (Technology) Bob Vaughey, CGCS twitter: @rollinghillsgcm the number of phone calls from members ask- ing about the status of the course after a rain. It prevents communication problems among all the parties as the information is posted for all to see. We also use Twitter to show members and public golfers what is going on at the golf course, whether that is tree pruning, topdress - ing or the construction of a new bunker. Now we simply snap a photo, make a quick com - ment and hit "send" from our phones, and the message is sent to the membership. They see the progress as it happens, know the timeline and what to expect, and can see the progress through photos. Using this method also provides fexibility for our members in how they choose to ac - cess this information. The tweets appear on the member's home page, so they can simply scroll through them there to get all the latest updates. Members that want this informa - tion sent as text messages simply need to send a text to 40404 and type "follow rollinghills - gcm," which in essence simply tells Twitter that you want to receive messages from @rolling- hillsgcm in the form of a text. This can be done from any cell phone, and no Twitter account is needed. We wrote the members to inform them how to do this and had the pro shop trained on how to set up the members' phones. And mem - bers who already are Twitter afcionados can simply follow along using their favorite app. There are obviously other ways to commu - nicate with golfers using social media tools, but we focused on Twitter as it allowed the most control and connectivity to the largest array of sources (website, text message and, of course, Twitter itself ). To see a short video that shows how this worked for us, visit the GCM blog at http:// . Bob Vaughey, CGCS, is the GCSAA Class A director of agronomy at Rolling Hills Country Club in Palos Verdes, Calif., and a 10-year member of GCSAA. When a tweet is worth 1,000 words 040-043_April14_Tech.indd 40 3/18/14 2:48 PM

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