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Enniscorthy and online booking:

a 21st century hymn sheet for the whole team

Enniscorthy GC is a long established private members’ golf club that has found a new way of solving some old problems. By going online with the BRS Golf tee booking system, all sorts of benefits have been accrued for both the members, management and the office team, enabling all those involved with running the club to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ when it comes to operational issues.

“I couldn’t operate without it. It’s a great piece of kit, and it’s very easy to use. Basically, it really is one of the best tools for a management team at a golf club that I’ve ever seen.”

The problems with paper-based systems

Finding the course was getting busier and busier at the weekends with more members wishing to play, a paper-based tee booking system for weekend casual golf was introduced a few years ago. But while this helped to ease the pressure on the tee at the weekends, it also created a whole new set of issues and problems for Austin Colley, the Club’s General Manager.

First, not everybody’s handwriting on the paper tee sheets was legible, which rather defeated the purpose of the booking system. To make matters worse, quite a lot of the bookings were subject to ‘change by Tipex’. The combination of illegible names and Tipexed corrections was creating far more problems for the office and the Pro Shop personnel than it was solving, because if you can’t read whose name it is, the system doesn’t work…

Second, the tee sheets for members, their guests and casual visitors were handled by the Pro Shop staff, whereas the group bookings were dealt with by the office. This created an endless source of potentially embarrassing double bookings, and the need for constant double checking of tee times by both Pro Shop and office, all of which added to the time wasted in simply administrating and reconciling the time sheets in two locations…

So when Austin heard about the BRS Golf online tee booking system, it sounded like the ideal solution.

Everyone can see what’s happening…

“With the BRS system being online, everyone in the Pro Shop, the Bar and the Office can see what’s going on, and do so in real time with any or all of the bookings. BRS has designed it so that you simply can’t double book, and that has eliminated a major potential source of problems for us because even one double booking is too many. And all the information is now completely legible, so we know the names of everyone that’s booked.”

Competition Diary

“At the beginning of a given year, we put in all the Members’ competitions, some 52 or so in our case, and then set each one up so that it automatically appears at a given time before the event takes place, and allows members to book and enter.” This feature takes another load off the office’s shoulders from the administrative perspective, and increases the degree by which Austin can streamline the management of the club. Being online, the members can enter from the convenience of their home or office, as well as at the club itself, thereby improving the service offered by the club and the level of entries. This facility is a ‘god send’ from the Competition Secretary’s point of view.

Messaging

There are two particular features of the system that Austin likes. One is being able to put messages into the online booking sheet; “We can tell people what the competition is that is being played on a given day, what its format is and how much the entry fee is. That’s really useful for members who are perhaps looking to play, and encouraging them to enter. Or if the competition isn’t appropriate to them, to find a time when they’ll be out of the way of the competitors.”

Another problem solved by being online is bookings with ‘guests’ made by people who want to book and play on their own. “We put a message on the system about members being liable for their guests’ green fees, even if the guests don’t play. It soon stopped times being blocked out by one person!”

A further benefit available within the BRS system is the ability to e-mail all your Members, at one time, at no cost, informing them of upcoming vents, such as say, a special fundraising day for Juniors, or the notice for the lub Dinner, and next year, hopefully, the notice of the Annual General Meeting, accompanied by the Agenda and the year end accounts.

Open competitions

Enniscorthy has always held a large number of Open competitions, several of which are sponsored by large companies. Changing from the old way of relying on people to write or telephone for an entry form, etc., to doing everything online has transformed the process, increased the numbers of entries, and made life far more straightforward for Austin and the office team.

“It’s much easier for golfers to find our website, and then to register all their details, names etc., to complete their entry by booking themselves into the competition, and finally, to pay their entry fee online.”  In effect, the competitors do virtually all the administrative work, the money goes into the club’s bank account, and the office can focus on actually running the event.

From Austin’s point of view, online payment simply eliminates all the  hassle of collecting all the various moneys, and then having to pay in lots of small cheques, all of which attract additional charges from the bank. Austin has also seen the number of Open competition entries increase significantly since they went online; and then there’s the benefit for the sponsors by being online: “Going online with a sponsored competition has a much better publicity value for the sponsor, and makes the club look more professional.”

Getting things started – the easy way

Austin was very careful to introduce the new system. Back in October 2005, the tee booking system was displayed on a PC at the bar for everyone to see, for a period of some 10 weeks prior to its becoming the official way to book. The Bar staff were trained to show members what was involved, and to help them see how easy it was to use a mouse and eyboard. This introductory period also meant the club could get a large number of the members registered with their details and e-mail addresses prior to the launch date. A trial period, with competition entry was run over the Christmas period, and any further ‘glitches’ which arose, were ironed out and corrected, with the assistance of the staff at BRS Systems.

The net result was that going live in the middle of January 2006 was very simple, as nearly all the regular members were used to using the system as part of their regular routine at the club. The only change was to move the PC to a more private space, instead of the bar, where everyone could see the degree to which someone was PC-literate - or not.

Singing from the same hymn sheet

“At any golf club, everyone has to be able to sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to handling bookings.”, says Austin, “For the smooth-running of the club, the catering, and the course, the ideal is having a tool that everyone can see and check at any time, and that’s precisely what the BRS system does. It thereby eliminates the risk of double booking, and all the double checking that we used to have to do, besides keeping everyone in the clubhouse team up to speed with what’s happening.

“I couldn’t operate without it. It’s a great piece of kit, and it’s very easy to use. Basically, it really is one of the best tools for a management team at a golf club that I’ve ever seen.”