Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Modeling the Impact of New Technologies on Pace of Play in Golf: Segway GT, Range Finders, RFID Golf Balls, and Longer Hitting Drivers

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Modeling the Impact of New Technologies on Pace of Play in Golf: Segway GT, Range Finders, RFID Golf Balls, and Longer Hitting Drivers

Article excerpt


A model-based decision support system (DSS) is used to study the impact of new technologies on pace of play on golf courses. The DSS is based on a Microsoft Excel simulation model that accurately represents the variability and interactions that impact pace of play on a golf course. Research shows the economic benefits of understanding the impact of policy on golf course play, specifically throughput (rounds played) and cycle time (round length). The use of a new mode of transport, the Segway GT, is compared to traditional two player carts. Results indicate that pace of play is improved and that golf course managers have cost/implementation strategic options that could offer advantages in a competitive market. Other technologies that are addressed include the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) to identify lost golf balls, global positioning systems (GPS) and other range finders to identify target distance, and longer hitting clubs.


Golf courses and country clubs are second only to gambling in the amount of revenue produced in the amusement, gambling and recreation industries. In 2002 there were 12,189 golf courses that produced $17.4 billion (US Economic Census, 2002). In 2001 there were 518.1 million rounds of golf played. Since then the number has declined by 4.5 percent, even though 2004 saw an increase of .7 percent. In the late 90's, 1800 new courses were built at a rate of over 300 per year. That number has declined to just 150 new courses in 2004 (Kuffman, 2005). With the number of courses increasing and the number of rounds played decreasing, the imbalance in supply and demand has many courses struggling to attract customers. One of the major factors in getting people on the golf course is the amount of time it requires to complete a round of golf (cycle time). If cycle time can be reduced, the number of rounds played during a day (throughput) can be increased.

In a recent interview Lee Trevino addressed the issue of cycle time, he said, "We have a tremendous amount of high-end daily-fee courses in Dallas that are in trouble. They aren't getting the play. The harder you build the course, the more money it costs to maintain it. The economy goes south, people aren't playing, and you still have to meet this big nut to maintain it. To make it hard you put in all these mounds and deep bunkers and creeks and railroad ties, and you have to maintain them. I would never build a modern course. I'm strictly traditional. Build a golf course like it's supposed to be played. I tell people I've never seen them put chairs on a tennis course to make it tougher.... If you put high handicappers on courses that take 5.5 hours to player, you're going to lose them. And time is money when it comes to golf. You can't get as many rounds in on a tough course." (Lowell, 2004) New technologies offer the potential of reducing the cycle time. This paper uses math-based modeling to examine the impact of new technologies on the pace of play.

Math-based models have been used to analyze stochastic systems such as manufacturing plants or distribution networks. Recent research demonstrates that math-based models are also being used to model pace of play on golf courses (Tiger and Salzer, 2004; Tiger, et al, 2003). A simulation model that accurately quantifies queuing on a course, developed by Tiger, et al (2003) is the basis for this research. In Tiger et al's (2003) paper, a modeling concept was created that offered a simple, yet powerful method for modeling course congestion, specifically, waiting for the group immediately in front to move out of the way. The concept is call gate methodology.

Gates are modeling constructs used at different points of a course. The gates indicate at what point on the fairway the players behind would be able to safely hit. The location and frequency of the gates vary based on golfer characteristics (short or long hitters); hole length and design. …

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