Friday, May 10, 2013

“Setting Up” With New Technology

     One of the most important daily tasks of a golf course maintenance department is setting up the golf course for play each day. A golf course that is set up properly can be challenging, yet fair and create an experience for golfers that they greatly enjoy. On the other hand, a golf course that is set up poorly or incorrectly can be a complete disaster and can lead to a lot of questions and complaints from the members and patrons of that facility. The entire set up process, starts at the teeing ground and finishes at the hole location on the green. We pride ourselves at Jimmie Austin Golf Club, by creating an experience for each and every one of our members and patrons, by putting a strong focus on our golf course set up methods. In our continued effort to provide an exceptional experience, we have recently purchased and have implemented a new hole location program called ezLocator. 

The ezLocator program was created by Jon Schultz of Richardson, TX. He came up with the idea after playing numerous rounds of golf at his home golf course, Dallas Athletic Club. After one of his rounds, he and his golf friends were discussing the fact that they were seeing the same pin positions weekend after weekend. That is when John decided to take action and create ezLocator.

The whole process starts with a 3D digital scan of each green which is mapped to a tolerance of +/- 1 millimeter. This scan reveals areas of the green that are putt-able and the optimum hole locations which are determined by the slope (normally less than 3 percent of slope or a little over 1.5 degrees), speed of the green and overall topography. Once all of this data is collected, it is then input into the cloud-based software and made available to the golf course superintendent, golf professional or anyone else who would be responsible for selecting the hole locations for play each day. After the hole location for the day has been determined, a properly trained employee is provided precise instructions on where to place each new hole location. The software includes the option to print pin sheets and the hole locations are also available on smart-phone applications for both iPhone and Android devices.
One of the great things about ezLocator is the ability to precisely map and track hole locations over an extended period of time. It allows us to utilize the maximum amount of each of our greens and to limit consistent traffic in certain areas.  A useful feature that we have recently used,  is the ability to isolate certain areas of each green for specific amounts of time. For example, if I have a tournament or championship coming up and I know where the hole locations will be, I can isolate those specific areas of the green and “save” those locations for that specific event. From an agronomic standpoint, I can also isolate areas that are struggling or just need a break from consistent traffic. This will help the overall health of the turf in those specific areas.
By utilizing the ezLocator system and implementing it with our other set up methods, we are adding one more tool to an arsenal of tools that we use each day to provide an exceptional golf course to the members and patrons of our facility. This system is slowly gaining popularity as Merion Golf Club has purchased this product and will be utilizing it when they host the 2013 US Open Championship this June.  We will also be utilizing it when we host the 2013 US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship immediately following the US Open Championship.
This product can have a great impact on Resort and Public Access facilities that receive a lot of play. By using this system, a facility would be able to locate numerous hole locations and use every square inch of pin-able and putt-able areas of their greens. This will help alleviate some of the issues of a heavy traffic golf course.
There is a significant cost associated with the initial start-up of this system, but having purchased and continually using this system, I truly believe the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. I recommend anyone interested in this system, visit the ezLocator website at  or contact Jon Schultz by phone (972) 231-4040 or by e-mail jon@goezlocator.comI assure you, that this system has helped us become a more enjoyable facility, and, I know that it can and will help other facilities as well.
As always any questions, comments or feedback is always appreciated.

We'll see you out there!