Castlewarden introduces Online Competition Fee Payment and Top-Up
Of the many innovative features brought to golf clubs over the last 6 years by BRS Golf’s online booking system, one of the latest allows golfers to pay for competition entry and top up their competition account or purse online, simply by entering their credit card and then booking into competitions.
This not only enables clubs to remove the cash handling of competition fees, but improves cash flow and reduces administration time. It also suits their members’ busy lifestyles to do more things online, and many clubs have also reported a reduction in no-shows by introducing financial penalties for not cancelling in advance.
Online booking for members and an online competition fee payment is something that all golf clubs should be considering seriously, if they are to stay in step with their existing members and appeal to both new members and the next generation. Castlewarden GC in Ireland is one of those clubs, and it’s well worth looking at the benefits of installing such a system in more detail.
Making things more convenient for the members
On its own, the BRS Golf Competition Purse can be topped up easily through a simple interface in the Pro Shop, Office or Bar. Just like Bar Cards, that value is then held on the Member’s account for the member to use whenever he or she books online into a club competition.
At Castlewarden the BRS Competition Purse is also used in conjunction with a Merchant Account, allowing members to top-up their Competition Purse account online by entering their Credit/Debit card. Therefore members can top-up at any time they wish from the comfort and convenience of their home or place of work. At Castlewarden the competition payments are only deducted after the member has played.
Ahead of the online curve: Castlewarden GC
While Castlewarden originally had another provider’s online tee booking system, it was sometimes erratic whenever it had to handle a high volume of members who were booking tee times. So the club began the search for a replacement and by comparison, BRS Golf’s system had all the club’s requirements, and in addition there were lots of positive testimonials from club secretaries and managers.
The BRS Golf booking system also came with a reputation for superb technical reliability courtesy of a much more powerful servers and robust software, so Castlewarden decided to select the BRS system from amongst several others. Having received many complaints about the old system Paddy McGowan, the Committee member in charge of dealing with the club’s IT, soon found the members adapted quickly to the new BRS system.
Besides the new online tee booking system itself, Castlewarden was keen to investigate the advantages of adding a combined Competition Purse and Merchant Account application. The initial thinking behind this innovation was primarily to reduce cash handling for Castlewarden’s Pro Shop and administration, and as the first club to do so in Ireland Castlewarden was certainly thinking well ahead.
Getting everyone on board
After much discussion and considerable the Castlewarden GC Competition Purse and Merchant Account was set up and immediately got away to a smooth start. One of the club’s initial decisions was that the entire membership should move to paying online using the cashless system, be they Juniors or Seniors, Full or Five day members. For Castlewarden, this decision has certainly proven to be the right one.
Tailoring the Purse features for the members
There are a number of detail points that has made the Competition Purse’s introduction and operation straightforward. For a start, the membership already had experience with an online tee booking system, and so for the new BRS system they were also using the same User Names, Passwords and GUI numbers. Paddy McGowan also felt that an ‘overdraft’ facility of two competitions would help get around the inevitable issue of members forgetting to top up, or how much was left in, their Competition Purse. This small detail has helped enormously to increase the system’s appeal.
In addition the club opted to give members the choice of using either their Cash/Laser card or their credit card to top up their Competition accounts. Castlewarden is already finding that there is a 60:40 split for using the credit card. For those members who do not use credit or cash cards for whatever reason, a visit to the club office will suffice and out of a membership of 920+ a very small number have opted for this method. As Paddy says: “We just had to accept the reality that some people only deal in cash!”
Delighted with the results and reactions
The Castlewarden Management Committee is delighted with the results, as Paddy explains: “The new BRS Competition Purse and Merchant Account system and all its innovations work extremely well. Firstly, with BRS Golf we’ve a much stronger and more robust online booking system. Secondly, running both Bar Card Accounts and now Competition Purses means the club’s cash flow has improved significantly by 920 + members putting a further and regular 40, 50 or 80 euros top ups into their accounts.”
“Thirdly, it is now much easier for our members to go online, enter and pay for competitions, and top up their accounts. Fourthly, it’s taken away the whole administrative hassle of reconciling large amounts of competition fee payments from 320+ members playing each weekend. Castlewarden members pay an annual subscription fee and also pay a green fee of between €5 and €10 each time they play. These fees are only deducted from their account after they play.”
“Because every member can see every transaction in detail, the system has gained a reputation for openness and transparency with members’ money, and this is an essential element when trying to reduce cash handling. The same benefits work for the club’s administrative team, because it means they now have a great tracking system that can be double checked across both the online time sheet and the Competition Purse.” To make things even more informative, BRS Golf’s reporting system also allows the break-up of revenue into Ladies’ and Gents’ income.
McGowan continues: “Lastly, the members really seem to appreciate that, unlike the Bar Cards where the club retains unspent money at the end of the financial year, with the Competition Purse there is either the option of a rollover of purse money to the following year, or they can have a refund if the purse is not being used. That again reinforces the perception of openness and handling of our members’ money.”
Surviving and prospering in an online world
Paddy McGowan’s final comment: “The world has gone online, and golf clubs need to do everything they can to provide better and more user friendly systems for their members. The Competition Purse and Merchant Account is one more way that golf clubs can both improve their security and cash flow and also assist members in planning their own individual expenditure.”