George Ballantyne Comes Down to Go Digital
"There is nothing worse than a soggy scorecard. Now all I have to do is wipe my cell phone screen when it's wet. "
George Ballantyne is 73 years old and is just the kind of golfer that clubs in have thoughts when they reject any idea of digitizing aspects of the game. And yet, after a rocky start, he has embraced the introduction of technology.
During his regular rounds at Ranfurly Castle in Renfrewshire, Ballantyne now records his scores at a Scottish Golf Union (SGU) – a world away from when he first joined a club in 1960 came.
"In the beginning I pushed all the wrong buttons and lost my scores," he says. "It was a bit of a distraction to take out your glasses 18 times per game and you have to make sure your phone is charged.
" At first it seemed a bit too advanced but with with some practice and patience it is now quite manageable.
What is the app?
The free app was launched in early 2019 and allows players to book tee times, participate in competitions, submit scores and follow live leaderboards as well as track track maps and use GPS to measure distances.
Since then, about 130 Scottish clubs have joined, with the same number registering their interest again.
What are the benefits?
It is not mandatory for clubs to adopt, but those using it – such as Ranfurly Castle at Weir's Bridge – were impressed by the effect that it's had.
"In the past you had to go to the pro shop, grab your scorecard, log in, enter your details and wait for it to be reversed at the end of a match order happens, ”said former captain David Ste wart.
"With the app you have everything you need at your fingertips."
It also gives clubs another weapon in their struggle to attract a younger group of players whose lives are being lived through their mobile devices.
"The majority of members have embraced it, but like everything else, there will always be people who love it and people who categorically won't use it," adds Stewart.
Why is there an ideal time now?
Shops, cafes and pubs have all encouraged – or even solicited – cash payments since the Covid-19 influence, so why should golf clubs be any different?
And why trade dirty scorecards and share pencils, when it can be done on any player's own phone?
"It meant fewer admin volunteers in the clubhouse at any given time, and it's safer because using it means we can avoid contact by being paperless," says Stewart .
Why wouldn't it be for everyone?
Largs golf club has not signed up for the app and has no plans to do so soon
While some clubs are convinced of the benefits, others remain skeptical.
Largs Golf Club has chosen from, with club manager Jim Callaghan explaining that the age profile of their membership – about 60 years old – means that getting involved "wouldn't make sense."
"I know you need to keep up with the times, but there are members who don't have cell phones," he adds.
“We don't think it would be fair to ask them to master a digital system on a device they cannot access.”
What does the governing body say?
The SGU recognizes and understands that position, while stressing the importance of enabling players to "consume golf on their own terms", whether they are young or old.
"In modern times everyone consumes things digitally in some way, so why should golf be any different?" Says a spokesman.
"There will be golfers who still want to experience golf in a way they have always had and it is important to meet their needs are met.
"However, we know that the younger generation is increasingly dependent on cell phones and it is important that we consider their lifestyle choices for the future of the game."