Cellphone use on the golf course is becoming more and more acceptable. As long as you're not answering calls as your partner swings, it's fair game. At some point during the round, the majority of golfers will likely check their phone if the facility allows it.
One company is hoping to let the golfer, and the course, benefit from the prominence of cellphones in golf. Piper is gaining traction in retail stores and restaurants with the development and installation of small wireless beacons that can beam advertisements and messages to nearby phones with the company's corresponding app.
Last month Reunion Golf Resort in Orlando set up beacons around its facility, allowing the course to alert golfers to golf-shop sales and provide in-round discounts on food and beverages. That might mean 25 percent off a food or beverage item at the turn. Or a discount on a new driver or wedge in the golf shop.
Piper started as a marketing tool for local retailers about four years using geolocation technology. Then when Apple made its iBeacon technology available, Piper has gotten involved. They've worked with McDonald's in Columbus, Ga. and museums and universities to incorporate this technology. "When we started looking at different markets to grow into, golf became very interesting to us," says Piper CEO Robert Hanczor.
By enabling Piper on their smartphone while on the golf course, a golfer could receive proximity messaging and content during down time on the course.
On any hole, there could be a video flyover of the layout, instruction on to play the hole, plus a social networking component to connect with other golfers. With including a beacon at that particular location, each hole can host a message wall where golfers could post messages about the hole or even photos of your shots (yes, even selfies). Says Hanczor: "It's a true social experience unlike anything that exists in golf right now. It gives a new target market of millennials the ability to use technology they're using all the time in a new and interesting way."
Hit it close to the pin on a particular hole? Drive it past everybody? Have a crazy lie you've never seen before? You can post a photo onto that hole's beacon, so other golfers playing that hole can engage in your experience.
Another plus is to give advertisers an avenue to reach a golfer and provide a meaningful message or product to this targeted golfer. "This is using the proximity technology to finely target the products that might be relevant to the consumer at that particular moment. We think that creates a moment of context that the golf industry has never experienced before." It brings value for the advertiser and the course, but for the golfer for them to use and act on at that moment.
Piper officials are "aggressively pursuing" opportunities at other public and private courses. Even private clubs, which in the past haven't had a centralized app to be able to deliver important messages about events or other services and even videos could use iBeacon technology to connect with their members.
"How this works across the industry is something we're focused on so we can provide meaningful information to everyone," Hanczor says. "We know people are on their phones, so this is a way to deliver it."