If you were paying attention to a commercial during the 2016 U.S. Open for Yamaha Golf-Cars you may have recognized the backdrop. It was none other than Greensboro National Golf Club, where a fleet of 82 metallic electricblue golf carts was unveiled in early March.
The 60-year-old company, probably known more for a rich pedigree when it comes to motorcycle, ATV and boat motor engineering, used the Greensboro golf club to help promote its latest technology, which has allowed Yamaha to make some major inroads into the golf cart industry over the last decade.
In fact, Chris Humble, the Eastern North Carolina district sales manager at Yamaha Golf-Car, can rattle off some impressive numbers. “Yamaha is really on the rise to No. 1,” said Humble, a former assistant golf professional at Greensboro Country Club. “We’ve taken over 1,987 accounts in the last seven years.” Included in that gaudy number is Greensboro National, where its four-year lease with Club Car Golf Carts was coming to an end, prompting the course’s investing partners to go shopping and listen to a pitch from Yamaha.
“We just got a more comfortable feel with Yamaha at this point in time of adapting to new technology changes,” said Greensboro National investing partner Patrick Donnelly. “You have to keep the environment fresh for attracting new golfers. There is somewhat of a youth movement, and not necessarily only on the PGA Tour. We see it out on the course. There is a push to make golf more attractive to people who maybe don’t get to play as often so when they do play those golfers want to see the latest features with golf equipment and what is happening on the course. Yamaha is making a very serious effort to push the envelope. They have become relevant in the marketplace.”
All of Greensboro National’s cart fleet has been equipped with YamaTrack, a state-of-the-art LED GPS system, which allows the club, for example, to set up geo-fences to protect eco-sensitive areas, along with countless other items. “You can block off territories where you don’t want golfers to go, whether it’s an environmentally friendly place or just carts on the path that day,” Humble said.
“In a future release you will be able to look up your food and beverage menus so it increases the speed of play throughout the round. You can see the menu, let’s say on hole 7, so you can order and by hole 9 you are ready to go and keep moving.”
“Everybody has added a GPS, but nobody has added a GPS that can do all these features, like the geo-fencing and future ability to pull up menus,” added Humble. “There are features we’re still working where we can control Proshop merchandise and food and beverage inventory, as well as the tee sheet from anywhere with our web based devises through YamaTrack. We’re in the midst of getting that done.”
In addition, the new carts have two USB connections built into the dash, the latest in front and rear end suspension for a smoother ride, larger storage bins, 12 pack coolers and dual sand bottles.
“It’s geared for the next generation golfer, so they can charge their phones or plug their speakers in, using today’s technology,” said Greensboro National investing partner Evan Benson.
“Yamaha kicked it up a notch by putting an enhanced technology platform in place designed not just for maintaining and managing the cart fleet, but to also help us with our entire operations,” added Donnelly. “It’s going to be key for our staff to be able to manage the locations of the carts all the time and getting a better view on what the traffic patterns are like to help protect the course from long-term wear.”
Humble said more and more clubs like Greensboro National are being sold by just seeing the product and testing it out. Even Yamaha’s colors have cool names like Moonstone, Glacier and Carbon. “The conversation started both ways,” Humble said about the negotiations of the Greensboro National golf cart lease. “We visited the golf course and we started talking to the right people and then it went from there. We brought in a demo to the golf course so they can ride around and get to know the golf cart first. It’s what they are going to be using so you want them to sit in it, ride around in it.”
A standard cart fleet is around 60, so Greensboro National’s more than 80 carts give the club added flexibility. “Greensboro National is not your standard course because of the rounds they do and the number of tournaments, so around 80 is where they need to be,” Humble said.
In addition to last summer’s U.S. Open commercial, Yamaha’s new brochure and slogan of “The Easy Choice When Luxury, Performance and Value Matter,” is filled with Greensboro National golf photos. “We definitely got some eyes on it,” Donnelly said. “It has been a great thing for us.”
Sounds like a two-way street.