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May 1, 2019

Tech Talk

A stand-alone range in Virginia employs a Director of Technology and R&D…should you?

By: Alexandra Uduk, PGA

At this moment, technology continues to evolve with new developments that shape our society from social media to online shopping to autonomous cars. In the golf industry, distance-measuring devices, simulators, gaming and a plethora of mobile apps are prime examples of how technology has enhanced the modern golf experience. While much of the game remains steeped in tradition, many of the most successful and poignant companies have incepted a lucrative sector within technology’s emerging developments. For example, shot tracking apps allow golfers to monitor their progress at their fingertips. Furthermore, past methods used to track clubhead speed and provide video analysis lacked accessibility – now, user-friendly apps and hardware have evolved to increase shareability and access without heavy equipment.

But what about technology at the practice range? Has it evolved at the same pace of the rest of the industry? In recent years there’s been a spike, much thanks to shot tracking platforms like Toptracer Range, TrackMan Range or Foresight Sports’ Total Range solution.

One facility that is perhaps ahead of the curve is the small family-owned New Post Golf Range in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where the 21-year-old Brandon Sims serves in the role of Director of Technology and Research Development. It’s a title that’s generally more suited for a big tech firm rather than a stand-alone practice range, but Sims understands the advantage of utilizing new technology within a family friendly environment while also improving business.

One of the more futuristic elements that Sims has researched to implement is an automated mower and ball picker designed to improve both the worker and client’s experience. He’s also earned a certification from CompTIA A+ and served a GOLFTEC ambassadorship to sharpen his skills. Much of what he’s learned allows Sims to act as a liaison for the teaching professionals and assist with using hi-tech launch monitors or video analysis apps for the students.

“Each day technology is becoming more and more intertwined in the things we do at the practice range or on the golf course,” says Sims. “I believe having someone on our staff who can speak the tech language and assist with those things has been a benefit to our staff and the customers.

“Technology can be overwhelming for a teaching pro that runs the facility and instructs—it takes time to learn and understand the terminology,” says Sims. “I can act as their guide so they are able to spend more time focused on what they do best, teaching and growing the game.”

Furthermore, Sims makes sure that all software updates to launch monitors and computers are done effectively and on time. That’s, again, one less thing for the golf professional to think about.

“Technology in our industry is here to stay, and it’s only going to expand as we continue to find ways that it influences our business,” adds Sims. “There are a lot of golf facilities that outsource their tech needs or rely on a third party, but as it becomes more intertwined into the daily operations I can see more facilities hiring people in my role.”