Digital Signage Fore the Links

TinersTakeDS-featuredThe past few columns of mine on digital signage have had a similar theme — particularly, finding and understanding the small niche uses of digital signage. I also had a more subtle theme of making a digital sign worth the investment. The days of having a digital sign simply for “making announcements” has passed. Finally, another theme has been the idea that integrators need to evolve into more than just a company that provides equipment. They need to begin to develop programming, provide network services and add value for their customer. This month’s column will be no different, although I get to write about one of my summertime passions, golf.

Who would ever think that someone could find a way to write about golf in an AV publication? Well, I managed.

First, if you are not a golfer, let me tell you some things about the happenings of a clubhouse and pro shop. All club houses have pro shops, these are stores where golf equipment and services are sold. This can range from lessons, to clubs to golf balls and more. Many clubhouses also have a restaurant or pub. So, there are the basic retail environments that exist that others have written so clearly about with digital signage.

What about the unique things that happen in a clubhouse, and what goals are the course and the pro trying to achieve? One goal is to attract and keep members. So providing unique and current information to the members is a service that can keep them engaged with their clubs. An example of this would be showing a weather radar. Most golfers don’t worry about rain, but severe weather, such as lightning or wind, becomes a real problem. Knowing what the conditions are is a benefit to the member. Pace of play (how slow, or fast someone plays) is a huge problem on courses. Being able to look at a monitor that gives you a sense of when people teed off, and where they are on the course would be awesome, so you would have an idea of how quick your round may go. This would go right along with current tee times. You may show up at a course without a tee time. Being able to take a look at what is open and when would help you join a group that has an opening.

Competition is a huge part of every club. Twilight leagues (afternoon leagues for various groups) take place at every course. Monitors showing who is matched up, when they teed off, their score if they are back in the clubhouse, and what team is in the lead would create a great environment. Also, this is not just about making members happy. While they are sitting around watching the monitors, to see where they stand, they are probably grabbing a beer and burger in the lounge. That’s money that goes right into the cash register. This same system can also be used during the club tournaments, such as club championship, member guest and more.

Some other uses of the signs would be to provide local rules. These change on occasions due to the course conditions. Depending on the amount of rain, and the conditions of the grass, there may be special rules about where the golf carts are allowed to drive on certain days. Almost every course has the 18th hole (the last one, for you non golfers) right near the clubhouse. During leagues and tournaments, people are sitting around wanting to know what happens on the final hole. How about putting a camera pointing at the green, so the clubhouse can watch the results. Again, all while continuing to patronize the lounge.

Finally, charity tournaments are a big draw for local golf courses. Courses love to support these, because they get a number of non-members to play at their course. It is a great chance to try and attract new members. Having some of these features would be a great experience for your potential members. A smart club house may even post some information about joining the club during these charity tournaments.

I have done some research on these systems. There are some systems that claim to cater to golf courses, but they are all about point of sale and merchandising. I have not found any that benefit the members and players. As an integrator, if you are able to find something that does cater to the player, you may hit a small gold mine. Or perhaps, expand your business and hire people to provide the creative and programming services to the course. After all, the local pros would much rather be out giving lessons than playing on a computer.

What do you think? Is this a market to target? Are you looking at unique and creative ways to explore digital signage? Oh, and if you are in Maine some time this summer, send me a Tweet — I would love to play 18 with you.