Clubs looking to add a new revenue stream and provide members with a fun and healthy option for traversing the golf course are discovering the benefits of alternative forms of transportation.
Mark Twain was famously credited with saying, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” While die-hard fans of the game would surely argue with the conclusion of that statement, the sport can certainly remain a good walk.
Club Car was an early participant in the production of golf carts—dating back to the 1950s—which provided strolling golfers with the option of riding the course. Many who were unable to walk a full round of golf found themselves easily transported from tee to green in an efficient, comfortable manner.
Today’s version of the golf cart has evolved into a luxurious, pampered experience that encourages even able-bodied players to ride. But at the same time, many players are now focusing on the health benefits of walking the course once again. And for those course operators who want to offer their players a chance to hoof it, but not lug their heavy bag of clubs across the fairways, Club Car recently introduced the Tempo Walk—an alternative that combines the benefits of walking with the ease of a cart. It carries clubs like a push cart, but follows hands-free behind the golfer at their pace thanks to a radio transmitter.
Harry Hammond, PGA Master Professional and Director of Golf at Penn Oaks Golf Club in West Chester, Pa., has leased eight Tempo Walks. “We are always looking to be ahead of the curve and this is just one example of being able to offer our members an alternative way to be on the course and enjoy the game,” says Hammond, who notes that the club also offers four Trikes and four Skateboards—both new and unique ways to transport golf clubs.
“I see a curiosity from many of our members about the Tempo Walks, and it seems to me that we are only at the beginning phase of their getting more use, once the internal club chatter says how much [players have] enjoyed using them,” Hammond adds.
Carts are mandatory at Penn Oaks weekdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and weekends from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The club offers discount pricing on the Tempo Walks during walking hours and then charges full cart price during the mandatory cart hours, Hammond says.
David Crawmer, PGA, Director of Golf at Lakewood Country Club in Rockville, Md., also has eight Tempo Walks.“We have had several of our members who ride [golf carts] consistently try the Tempo Walk and use them, especially during cart-path-only days,” Crawmer says. “We have only had them since June, so we are talking about the three hottest months of the year. I am expecting more riders to use them in the fall.
“Several of our members who used to walk and carry their own bag have converted to using the Tempo Walk consistently,” he adds.
Golfers at Lakewood are supporting the initiative, Crawmer points out. “The members love the concept and think they are cool,” he says. “It gives the members an added benefit that we did not offer before. It takes far less energy—especially in the heat—to use a Tempo Walk, compared to pushing a cart or carrying a bag.”
In order to create early interest, Crawmer and his staff sent out a series of e-mails to members with information about the Tempo Walks, plus videos on how they worked. The promotion is ongoing.
“We place them every day in front of the golf shop for members to see as they walk down to the shop,” he says. “We have sent out social media post every few weeks with updates and showing members using them.”
As for training members, Crawmer says there’s a brief tutorial by his staff to the operator on how to use the remote, and a few tips to ensure enjoyment. And there’s no special maintenance or care by the club.
“We just have to make sure they get charged each night, but nothing different or out of the ordinary,” he says.
Similarly, Hammond’s team places their Tempo Walks in a high visibility area near the golf shop. For anyone who initiates conversations about them, the staff points out the features and benefits to the member or guest.
As for maintenance, Hammond says they have received training on how to correct a signal loss from the transmitter to the receiving unit, but daily cleaning is the only small maintenance required.
Benefits for All
At Penn Oaks, Hammond says, the benefits of making the Tempo Walk available are twofold.
“Number one, we have added value to our members, with an alternative way to get around the course,” he says. “The second benefit is that we have added another income source to our business, and we see people who always played during the walking hours and carried their bag now renting the Tempo Walks.
“I would tell any club, caddie program or not, that your members or guests who enjoy walking will be happy customers when you give them the option to enjoy themselves at your facility using the Tempo Walk,” Hammond adds.
Crawmer concurs. “If [a club] does not currently have a caddie program, and they are looking to add a new service, or just looking to add something that is new and cool, I would highly recommend adding Tempos to their fleet,” he says.