Peninsula adds GPS to its golf carts

April 12, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

You stop your cart alongside your ball in the fairway, assessing your next shot. You can't see where the green is, you can't see a distance marker or if there's another group ahead of you.

But you don't have to.

A display screen affixed to your cart tells you everything you need to know, and it updates the information continuously as your cart moves along the course.

It's global positioning system technology, and it can be used to give golfers all the information they need to play a faster, smarter round.

While you can't find it everywhere, you can find it on one area course. Peninsula Golf Resort installed the GPS system in its carts about a month ago, making it one of only two public courses in Kentucky with such an advanced system.


"We want to give golfers around here something they can't get anywhere else," said Mike Bibb, the PGA professional at the Garrard County course.

What they get is a display that will allow them to see the layout of the hole and their position on it, track their pace of play and eventually even order lunch.

So far, Bibb said, the system has been a hit.

Screen displays variety of information

Golfers see what the system can do as soon as the cart approaches the first tee, when the screen displays the hole layout, distances from each tee and the exact distance - within a yard or so - from the cart to the pin and to hazards. If other carts are near you, it shows their location as well.

The screen's menu buttons allow players to keep score electronically and can display a running leaderboard during group outings.

"It eliminates all paper a golfer has to have," Bibb said.

The system also helps course officials better manage traffic during peak times.

A master screen in the clubhouse allows the staff to see where every cart is, tracking their every change of direction and their pace of play, right down to how much time a group spends on each hole.

"The biggest complaint we get is about people playing slow, and this system allows us to improve that without yelling at people," Bibb said.

Messages such as weather warnings can also be sent to all carts at once, and golfers can also communicate with the clubhouse, such as to send notice of a lost or found club - "We've used that feature almost daily," Bibb said - or notify the staff of a medical emergency.

"When we show people the screen, they're amazed at what it does," Bibb said.

In the future, the system will even be able to send food orders to the snack bar, which will be waiting for them when they make the turn.

"It's everything to get the golfer around more efficiently," Bibb said. "It gives them info and gives us info and gets them around the course.

"I think we've gotten business as a result of it," Bibb said. "I know we've gotten repeat business we wouldn't have had because of it."

Bright Leaf added GPS last year

But Peninsula isn't the only area course receiving signals from outer space. Bright Leaf Golf Course in Harrodsburg has had a scaled-down GPS system in its carts for just over a year.

"It basically gives you a yardage readout, whether you're on the tee or in the fairway," Bright Leaf professional Kevin Hendren said.

Bright Leaf's system displays the distance to the center of the green.

"It keeps the pace going because they don't have to look for sprinkler heads or cart-path yardage," Hendren said.

Hendren said it's especially important at a course where so many players are unfamiliar with the layout.

"We get a lot of people that are from out of town, so they're not used to playing here," he said. "We've got a lot of hills and valleys, and it can be deceptive."

Old Bridge has full-service bar

Another major change on the area golf scene is the addition of a full-service bar in the clubhouse at Old Bridge Golf Club just east of Danville.

Voters approved alcohol sales within Old Bridge's voting precinct in December, and the club opened its bar nine days ago.

Club professional Bruce Brown said it isn't too early to see the impact that going "wet" will have on business.

"Already a lot more groups are calling us reserving outings," Brown said.

Brown said the bar has also attracted some who aren't regular golfers.

"It's getting people out here who maybe wouldn't have come before. And maybe they'll go to the driving range or hit on the putting green," he said.

But Brown said he wants to make sure those who don't want a drink still feel welcome.

"We still have a grill area where they can come in and get something to eat (without being at the bar)," he said. "We wanted to try to still keep that family atmosphere."

Central Kentucky News Articles