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Fairways Golf Membership’s Neil McGrew on Growing the Game With Lightspeed

Fairways Golf Membership’s Neil McGrew on Growing the Game With Lightspeed

When Fairways Golf Membership was created in 2009, the goal was to grow the game of golf by making it affordable and accessible. Neil McGrew, Fairways’ director of sales and marketing, knew technology would be integral for them to meet their goals and stand out from the competition. 

Over the years, tech has brought noticeable changes to the game of golf, with new equipment and software designed to help golfers improve their game. From simulators and smartphone apps to distance-measuring lasers and swing sensors, it’s crucial to use the latest and greatest to compete at the highest level—so it was only a matter of time until golf course operators turned to tech to enhance their own operations.  

Fairways Golf Membership is a great value for golfers, offering access to four top courses in the northeast Ohio area. In McGrew’s own words, “This membership allows golfers of all kinds, from the scratch player to the weekly hacker, to enjoy the game the way it was meant to be enjoyed.” 

With a multi-location business and several terminals all over the properties, McGrew needed an all-in-one solution that could process transactions from the restaurant to the pro shop and manage tee sheets. We caught up with McGrew to learn about his journey in finding the right tech to manage it all, what led him to Lightspeed and how he sees the game of golf evolving in the future. 

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity).

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Fairways Golf Membership meets a need in the market for affordable and accessible golf for all levels of experience. How does the membership fit in the industry and who does it serve?

When we launched this membership, we did so for a few reasons. First, we wanted to create something that was unbeatable in terms of value for golfers of all types. Secondly, we felt it was time to do something meaningful in terms of growing the game of golf and making it as accessible as possible. Lastly, it was important for us to be accountable to our patrons on a regular basis and the Fairways Golf Membership does just that.

In creating the Fairways Golf Membership, we have been able to improve our accountability across the board and therefore, the golfing experience you and your friends have with each round played. In doing so, we made golf more accessible while providing the best value in golf in Northeast Ohio.

Today, the Fairways Golf Membership has grown from a one-course offering to including four facilities. We are proud to have created this membership to benefit all golfers across the area. We believe in growing the game and making it affordable, accessible and fun for everyone.

Technology has been playing an important role in the golf industry—on and off the course. How did you choose to go with Lightspeed?

The major thing that made us go with Lightspeed Golf was the ability to use both tablets and desktop computers to fit our needs as well as the way customer information is configured to work globally across all of our courses. This improved our customers’ experience as well as our ability to do our jobs in the most efficient way. Beyond that, there were significant savings that helped to make the decision easier. Lastly, the people at Lightspeed Golf were all helpful and easy to work with and that is always a major plus when considering who to trust in the daily operations of any business.

What were the pain points of the POS system you were using before Lightspeed? 

Before switching to Lightspeed, we were using a golf point of sale system called Teesnap. I would say that the pain points for us were the overall financial burden, the speed of transactions, inability to manage multiple facilities’ data on an aggregate level to effectively market and the lack of a streamlined booking engine for customers online.

But once we switched to Lightspeed and Lightspeed Payments to process transactions, we saw a dramatic change for the better. 

Golf courses have various terminals with different needs—not to mention the safety considerations in accepting payments in a pandemic. How has Lightspeed helped your business during this time?

We have saved some money in going with Lightspeed Payments, which is always a plus. Also, the new card readers are fast and easy to use, whether the card’s inserted or using the tap to pay feature. With limiting the amount of people in the clubhouse during the current health guidelines, this is a benefit to help us run daily operations more efficiently to keep the experience enjoyable for all.

It sounds like you’ve benefitted from integrated payment processing. What would you say has stood out as the main advantage?

I would say the main benefit of Lightspeed Payments has been the ease of use and the reporting that’s readily available. As a marketer, the ability to gain relevant insights and leverage those into improved sales is always a great benefit.

Fairways Golf Membership has used modern technology to keep up with where the industry is going. How do you use this tech to stand out against competitors?

At Fairways Golf, we have been using technology pretty heavily for the past decade. From frequently updated and professional websites to streamlined point of sale systems, a large email marketing database to regularly produced content on our social media pages/profiles, we spend a lot of time leveraging technology to put our best foot forward to our current and potentially new customers.

What are your goals for the future of Fairways Golf Membership and how is Lightspeed helping you achieve these goals?

Like any business with passionate people, our goal is to continuously grow our offerings and reach while improving upon our past performance. As we turn the corner into next year and beyond, we are working to make all of our online and in-person sales platforms integrate together to provide a top-of-the-line experience to golfers. Beyond that, Lightspeed’s reporting will help us to identify trends in product sales, customer frequency, preferred payment methods, discounting/sales performance, etc. With that information, we can run a more stats driven business that will help to lower overhead while increasing our margins.

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