This article is from Golf Range News in 2003.
Comment from Epic Golf Ireland Ltd:
*Since it was written Seoul Nassau (now Sharpe’s Leisure) bought the rights to “Easytee” and it is marketed in Europe and the US as “Pareto Autotee”.
They invested a further £200K plus in developing and improving the system.
Its cost savings and reliability over Powertee now make it an even more appealing proposition to range owners and customers alike.
All around the country, range owners are considering installing automated teeing systems.
There are many reasons to invest in automatic tees, but the best reason by far is that they increase your profits. Golfers across the ages love them. They encourage more visits, new customers, and more balls hit by everyone. In some cases, ranges are showing increases of over 50%. Some range owners are often confident enough to increase the price of balls as well. There are currently two companies supplying the UK market: Power Tee and EasyTee*. Both tee the range ball in a fully automatic manner, but in completely different ways. Martin Wyeth, founder and managing director of Golf Tech Ltd, has been developing Power Tee for the last seven years.
“There have been many attempts to make automated teeing work in the UK. As early as the 1960s there were machines designed to automatically put a ball on a tee, and why not - it’s a great idea. When I first thought of automated teeing in 1995, I had already successfully engineered a number of concepts for other companies in the toy, manufacturing, and brewing industries, and was looking for a product to take to market myself.
After discussing the concept of an automatic tee with a number of golfers, I decided the idea was worth pursuing. Having built a number of prototypes in 1995, I set about researching the market from both the golfers’ point of view and the range operators’ in the UK and overseas. Some interesting points came out of the initial research from both the industry side of the coin and the gofer perception. The most interesting point to come from the industry was the level of scepticism around the concept. Over a third of the operators I spoke to remembered one system or another that had been installed and had failed for one reason or another. The key reasons for failure were divided into two camps, one was reliability and the other was golfer reaction.
These two facets are inexorably linked, as some of our customers can testify who have been through the worst of our reliability problems with us. Any golfer who repeatedly pours their basket of balls into a machine only to lose them and subsequently have to traipse off to reception to get a replacement will soon become a non-fan. If this goes unchecked, it can snowball as less honourable golfers spot an opportunity to claim a free basket of balls by saying they lost their purchase in a machine.
Forewarned is forearmed, so we set about developing a system of extraordinary strength and solidity. After building a prototype and testing it to 2 million cycles in the factory, I was convinced that we had cracked the nut. In November 1999 we installed 3 machines at Bowood Golf and Country Club in Wiltshire and got a fantastic reaction from the golfers; we had certainly got that bit right.
What surprised us most was that the machines broke down almost every other day. In the first 6 weeks we learned as much about the operational issues of automated tees in the UK as we did in the subsequent six months, and these lessons remain among Golf-Tech’s most closely guarded secrets. Winter proved a great time to start the trial of the machines as it brought out the worst of the problems early in the trial period. After such a shaky start, we went on to trial the system for a whole year before carrying out any further installations.
In fact, after just 7 weeks we replaced the machines completely and they are still there today having served many millions of golf balls. Since then we have gone on to sell over 250 machines around the UK and Ireland to owner-managed businesses and all of the major group operators and have routinely produced ever more spectacular results, in many cases exceeding even our own expectations. With a growing waiting list for Power Tee we will kick off the New Year by extending the Wentworth system from 4 to 12 machines and watching our American Golf system building the business at Blue Mountain. My final note to operators considering automatic teeing is that “it is not a free ride”. The implications to automating a range are far reaching, and although the cash results are spectacular, it must be done properly to get the best from your investment.”
Brian Jones is managing director of EasyTee*:
The interest in the EasyTee system has been phenomenal, the benefits are quite simple: installation takes only 15 minutes per machine - at ground level or first floors, it is competitively priced, and we have a service division second to none. Our philosophy is to maintain good relationships and develop existing business. We operate a simplistic approach to the development of the machines. The mainly mechanical system helps keep the downtime to a minimum, which means instant financial returns on your investment.”
Pareto has recently taken over the marketing, sales, installation and servicing of EasyTee in the UK. The two systems work totally differently. Power Tee presents the ball from under the mat via an underground hopper, with EasyTee the balls are poured into a drum above the ground. The balls then roll across the mat in a channel before being elevated electronically. The process of installation highlights the contrasts between the two systems: EasyTee is much easier to install with no major ground works, whilst Power Tee requires an excavation of the range floor which houses the ball reservoir and hydraulic teeing system. With both systems, the tee height can be adjusted with the touch of a club head.
GRN’s best advice to prospective customers is to look at all the options and talk to existing customers, who have installed a system. EasyTee and Power Tee both have a growing list of happy customers.
Pareto Autotees at Ballyearl Leisure centre, Co. Antrim for Newtownabbey Borough Council Down:
Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick, Co. Antrim