More golf clubs are adopting tech and going digital – and for good reason. But are we sacrificing a whole generation of golfers in doing so?

For the sake of transparency, let me start by saying this: By no means do I think golf clubs are leading the way in tech and innovation. Far from it to be honest.

Game-enhancing technology – think wearable tech or the use of AI to analyse shot data – is big business. But the rate of innovation at golf clubs tends to be somewhat behind the times.

I think there are a hundred and one ways that golf clubs could be using technology to improve customer experience. And in turn, increase retention.

And for the most part, the driving force behind the implementation of things like apps at golf clubs is automation and personalisation. Making life easier for golfers.

But sometimes, new systems and platforms are put in place purely to improve efficiencies at the club – to cut costs, save time, or reduce staff need –without much thought for golfers.

And that’s where my bugbear comes in.

Technophobes have feelings too

At a golf club local to me, the only way you can book a tee time is on their website or through the app.

You can’t ring. You can’t pop into the golf shop.

For a millennial like me who hates having to pick up the phone (I’m not proud of it, blame my generation), it’s a dream.

I can check availability, book a tee time and pay in a few clicks on my phone. Done before the kettle’s boiled, no hold tunes to listen to or “have you got anything a bit earlier” back and forth.

But for technophobes like my dad, it quite literally means he can’t play golf there. Unless my brother or I book a tee time for him.

He’s not old, he’s early 60s. He just doesn’t have a grasp on technology. A (very) late adopter if you like.

And I know he won’t be alone. That same demographic makes up a significant percentage of the people that play golf.

When technology is employed with the implicit assumption that everyone can use it, we sacrifice a whole generation of golfers. In this example at my local club, we also sacrifice the human beings working there too.

And that’s an issue.

I’m all for accelerating the rate of innovation in golf and dragging it into the modern world (in more ways than one). But whilst we fight to attract younger blood to the game, we can’t do it to the detriment of the people already playing. Or working in the industry.

There has to be a balance. Technology should complement physical service, not substitute it.

What do you think? Email me at [email protected].