Dress-code violations and slow play could be eradicated if golf course operators communicated guidelines to their customers before their round, according to new figures released today.
A series of visits by 59Club, Europe's leading golf-specific mystery shopper service, has concluded that UK golf clubs fail to satisfactorily communicate their expectations to golfers, with just six per cent providing visitors with sufficient dress-code information at the time of booking.
What's more, testers identified that only 19 per cent of golf clubs communicated the expected time it should take to play a round of golf at their club, before the start of the round.
Last year, a survey revealed more than 79 per cent of golfers identified slow play as an issue, with one fifth of golfers suggesting slow play would deter them from playing. Consequently, Simon Wordsworth, chief executive at 59Club and a fellow of the PGA, believes the results of his company's survey - which comes from data collated over nearly 500 'mystery' visits - indicate golf club managers and operators are not doing enough to confront these issues with golfers.
He hopes that by releasing these figures, golf clubs will learn to communicate better with golfers who can then concentrate on enjoying their round, rather than worrying about rules and regulations.
Wordsworth said: "Every golf governing body and trade organisation seems to have an opinion on the dress code and pace-of-play debates. However, golf-course operators must take responsibility for communicating their individual polices to their customers.
"The key message to golf club managers is if you don't communicate to your customers, how can you expect them to behave in a particular way, fairly enforce any policy and therefore allow them to enjoy their experience to the full - thus increasing chances of return business?
"In general, golf management pays too little attention to customer touch points, both before arrival, during the day and post-event, thus missing out on so many vital opportunities to enhance the golfer's experience."
Run by an experienced team of golf and leisure operators, the 59Club system allows for useful results comparisons to be made against a venue's chosen competitors and the industry standard.
59Club, a PGA official supplier, boasts an impressive client list in the UK and Middle East. The core service includes a series of mystery shopper recorded enquiry calls and live visits, followed up with regular analysis and training to ensure venues can identify trends and improve, or maintain, service standards.