Nothing standard about standard practice and procedures

    This month 59Club director Mark Reed compares 2014 performance with the figures thus far, for 2015, in terms of standard practices and procedures.

    We have compared right across our three categories: 59Club podium, the average score of the three clubs which have during the period covered offered the best overall customer experience; 59Club venues, clubs which are part of the 59Club benchmarking system; and the industry average, made up of clubs tested outside of the 59Club scheme and not privy to the management tool.

    Booking a tee-time should be an easy task in the 21st century, either on-line or by phoning up the pro shop. Yet it would seem that at some venues it is easier to get through to the club than others. Surprisingly, the podium clubs fare really badly so far this year with their score dropping drastically from a 2014 average of 75 percent to just 18. The reasons for this, it must be said, are open to interpretation. However, despite offering the very best experience when you get there, they seem not to be the quickest at dealing with the initial enquiry.

    59 Club July Graphs 1

    If the booking is made via the phone it is the staff member’s responsibility to ensure that all the relevant details are recorded accurately – not just the tee-time, but also the date, the number of players and if applicable, which course. Here the podium set scores better with 90 percent, although it is a drop from last year’s 97 – slightly ahead of the 59Club average, which is steady at 93, and well up on the industry average which has improved two percentage points on its 2014 average to 82.

    Sometimes, because we are so familiar with the facilities, we fail to impart basic information to visitors when they are booking such as confirmation of where to register and an approximate time to arrive – and that is clear from the figures. The podium has improved from a position of 31 percent last year to 63 in 2015, but the 59Club average remains low, moving from just eight percent to an equally ‘just’ 13.

    There is also a tendency to overlook the need to confirm handicap and dress-code requirements, with the podium struggling, once again, with just 38 percent,  up from 32 in 2014, while the 59Club average just breaks into double figures, up two percentage points from the 2014 score of eight percent. It would appear that, here in particular, we are being complacent.

    The podium clubs, in particular, upon arrival are much more attentive when it comes to giving the golfer directions to the key facilities at the club. The score of 98 percent is up on the 2014 average of 92, while the 59Club average is currently at 61 percent, two percentage points better off than in 2014. The industry as a whole is not performing as well here as it did in 2014, dropping from 49 percent to 38.

    In the pro shop, when it came to stock levels and presentation, there has been quite a drop in the performance levels of the industry average, which has fallen from 84 percent to 67 in 2015. The 59Club average remained steady at 79 percent, while the podium score has improved from 85 percent to 93.

    Our testers also look at ten products to ensure they are priced and sized. Now, you wouldn’t expect that to prove too taxing, but … Although the podium scored a perfect 100 per cent in 2015, up from 98 last year, the other categories appear to have taken their eye off the proverbial ball, albeit to differing degrees. 59Club clubs have dropped from 93 percent in 2014 to 91, while the industry average has fallen from 89 percent to 72. It may not sound too bad but that’s more than one in four products labelled incorrectly or not labelled at all.

    Shop staff were well presented, in well-pressed attire and either wore a name badge or introduced themselves, on every occasion at the podium clubs in both 2014 and 2015; standards, however, were not quite so high elsewhere. The 59Club average dropped a percentage point from its 2014 figure of 83 percent, while the industry average currently sits at 72 percent, down from last year’s 76.

    59-Club-July-Graph-2Out on the course, it’s important that golfers are informed of any maintenance work taking place which might affect their enjoyment. There has been a massive improvement here at the podium clubs, whose lacklustre 46 percent of last year has been converted to a faultless 100 percent. Indeed, there has been a noticeable improvement across the board, with the 59Club average jumping to 66 from 25, while the industry average has leapt to 78 from 41 – of course, it could be that there is just less maintenance work being carried out.

    Player etiquette in golf is an inherent quality of the sport, but, once again, it should not be taken for granted. Golfers should be reminded about the need to repair pitch-marks, replace divots and rake bunkers – but it seems we are a little lackadaisical on this front. The 59Club average for imparting this information is a lowly 15 percent, as it was in 2014, while the industry performance is even poorer: down to 11 percent this year from last year’s 12. And when you consider how many average-to-poor reviews come a course’s way every year because of pitchmarks, divots and general course condition, it’s an oversight that can have palpable repercussions.

    Golfers should be informed of the on-course food and beverage and rest-room facilities prior to teeing off. The industry performs poorly here, a current average of 11 percent and down from an equally disappointing 15 in 2014 – does not augur well, while the 59Club average of 25 percent also leaves room for further improvement, despite a one percentage point increase on last year. Not surprisingly, however, the podium score is vastly superior, clocking an 88 percent average so far this year, up from 69 in 2014.

    59 Club July Graph 3Hotels and restaurants are among the most ‘reviewed’ facilities on the web and nothing seems to attract the ire of a punter more than poor service when it comes to their nosh. In terms of the quality and presentation of the food only the industry average has failed to show an improvement on 2014, staying steady at 72 percent. The podium score has risen from 92 percent to 95, while the 59Club average has also improved to 87 percent from 82 last year.

    Nothing puts people off sitting down to eat or drink more than other people’s half-eaten meals. Clearing tables should be second nature to those working in the bar/restaurant, but once again the industry is found lacking, recording a score of just 57 percent, albeit an improvement on last year’s 45. The podium score is now 100 percent compared with 2014’s 82, while the 59Club average has also improved from 60 to 71 percent. Overall, it would appear that the clearing of tables is an area where we could still do with some polishing up.