5th Golf Innovation Symposium: Facility Productivity

Introduction: Advancing the Game

Mike Davis, USGA

  • USGA CEO Mike Davis will thank the Japan Golf Association for inviting the USGA to hold the 5th Golf Innovation Symposium in Japan, as well as for their cooperation and support in planning and staging the symposium.

  • He will outline the USGA’s strategy for advancing the game by strengthening the overall financial health of golf facilities, the foundation of the sport around the world. There are two aspects of this strategy: improving the efficiency and productivity of facilities, as well as fostering improvements in the experience that facilities provide to golfers.

  • The purpose of the symposium is to present innovations and new modes of thought that help golf facilities make better, more-informed decisions through the use of research, technology and data.

  • Over the past year, the USGA worked closely with the JGA on several projects, the results of which will be presented at the symposium.

  • These joint efforts underscore the collaboration, connection and the shared purpose that are needed in the golf industry if we are to move toward the common goal of fostering the long-term sustainability of the game around the world.

Affirming the Challenge Statement 

Rand Jerris, USGA (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

  • As Mike Davis said in his introduction, there are two components of the USGA’s strategy to help golf facilities: facility productivity and golfer experience.

  • Rand Jerris will review the larger trends impacting golf facilities – the cost of operating a golf facility and declining participation – and present statistics and research that help identify some of the underlying causes.

  • Based on this information, the USGA has come up with a challenge statement for the industry that will help improve the long-term sustainability of golf facilities.

  • The USGA will present the challenge statement to a new audience at the 5th Golf Innovation Symposium: “We will improve golfer satisfaction by 20% while reducing critical resource consumption by 25% by 2025.”


Snapshot of Golf Facilities 

Shigeki Mitsuishi, Yano Research (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Ray Cronin, Club Benchmarking (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

  • One of the goals of the 5th Golf Innovation Symposium is to encourage Japanese golf facility managers to develop new modes of thought to improve their long-term financial viability.

  • The first step in this process is learning more about the current state of Japanese golf facilities in order to evaluate their needs and challenges.

  • In the first part of this session, the USGA, JGA and Yano Research have collaborated on a survey of golf facilities managers in early 2019 to better understand the landscape of Japanese golf facilities.

  • The research will derive insights in areas such as golf course design, technology available for facility operations, communication with golfers, the prioritization of their offerings to golfers, and number of rounds.

  • The results will give the Japanese golf industry insights about how facilities operate and the way they deliver experiences and satisfaction to Japanese golfers.

  • In the second part of this session, Ray Cronin of Club Benchmarking will outline the benefits of benchmarking – the comparison of financial performance against similar facilities through data collected anonymously.

  • Benchmarking is a common business tool in similar industries such as hotels.

  • Ray will provide the financial performance of golf clubs around the world – U.S., Europe, Australia – to provide a broader view of how Japanese facilities compare against facilities in other countries.

International Models for Golf 

Kimberly Erusha, USGA (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Gerard Kennedy, Golf Australia (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Jay Karen, National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA)

  • In this session combining three presentations, the speakers will provide information about golf facilities in the U.S. and Australia, two of the largest golf countries in the world.

  • Kimberly Erusha, managing director of the USGA Green Section, will discuss the role of superintendents among golf facilities in the U.S., outline some of the challenges facing the profession, and present how organizations such as the USGA and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America are providing services, education and resources to help superintendents tackle the challenges they are facing.

  • NGCOA CEO Jay Karen will provide an overview of the golf industry in the U.S., with an emphasis on golfer demographics and the characteristics of golf facilities. In addition, he will talk about some of the best ideas adopted by American golf facilities to thrive in today’s business climate.

  • Golf Australia has one of the strongest programs to support its member clubs of any national federation. Gerard Kennedy will highlight Golf Australia’s strategic initiatives to provide even greater service and value to facilities and better engage golfers in the country.

Investing in Innovation 

Nobuya “Mike” Ishizaka, Golf Digest Online (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

David Pierce, USGA (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Jeffrey Blume, American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Dana Lonn, Toro (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Masaharu Fujita, Hamanako Country Club (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

  • This session will provide ideas and examples of the types of innovations that could benefit golf facilities. In addition to providing insights into how his company communicates with and engages with golfers, Golf Digest Online CEO Nobuya “Mike” Ishizaka will introduce a series of presentations before moderating a panel discussion among the participants.

  • David Pierce will demonstrate that golf facilities have lagged beyond other areas of the golf industry in their embrace of innovations.

  • Jeff Blume, president of the ASGCA, will show the return on investments of golf course renovations and redesigns, and deliver ideas that are making an impact in the U.S.

  • Dana Lonn, the longtime head of research and development for Toro, will look at some of the technology and innovations that will make a difference in the way facilities maintain their courses.

  • Hamanako Country Club Chairman Masaharu Fujita will provide a case study of how investing in alternative energy has benefitted his club.

New View of Data (Presentation slides: English  l  Japanese)

Scott Mingay, USGA

John Sanford, Sanford Golf Design

Ryoichi Ohno, Kasumigaseki Country Club

  • The USGA has introduced a cloud-based app that visualizes golf courses and golfers in a new way and provides information to help facility managers make better decisions that can help their efficiency and provide a better experience for their golfers.

  • Scott Mingay, the app’s developer, will demonstrate the features and benefits for the first time in Japan, in addition to describing the GPS data collection of golfer traffic that facilities can use to evaluate how their golfers are using their courses.

  • John Sanford, former president will demonstrate how he was able to use the app and the service to propose a design change at a Florida course that will result in substantial annual savings for the facility.

  • Kasumigaseki Country Club, the host course for the golf competition during the 2020 Olympics, was the first Japanese club to pilot this service. Mingay and Kasumigaseki Captain Ryoichi Ohno will demonstrate what they learned through the GPS data collection at the club.