19th Hole

Search and rescue: the equipment ID system

Golf Canada Equipment Identification & Retrieval System

When you purchase a new car, it comes with a warranty. Ditto when you buy a TV. The same applies for a couch, appliance and even a smartphone too. But why not golf? After doling out countless dollars to fill and upgrade our golf bags, shouldn’t we be offered some protection on the equipment we use and invest in? Well, for Golf Canada members, there is.

Launched in 2015, the Golf Canada Equipment Identification & Retrieval System was developed to reunite golfers with lost gear. Through the simple use of labels, all equipment — including clubs, headcovers, rangefinders and even your cell phone — can now be easily recovered should it ever escape your possession on the golf course.

The labels — small enough to wrap around a golf club’s shaft — display two things: your unique 10-digit Golf Canada membership number as well as a mobile-friendly website address for reporting something missing. This provides the ability of both identifying an owner and delivering a means of action, while still protecting personal information. So if you find a lost item while golfing, you can simply grab your cell phone, call up the website, punch in the number and an alert is sent directly to the owner.

“It means that you can get the message live while you are on the golf course,” explains Karen Hewson, Golf Canada’s managing director of membership and heritage services. “For the finder, It removes the dilemma of what to do. If I pick it up, it’s going to be in my cart. If they finish golfing before I get to the pro shop, they might come back and look for it or they might not. Of course the other benefit is if somebody does leave it at the pro shop, the staff has a way to message you and say, ‘Hey your club is here at our pro shop. Come on back and play golf and pick it up.’”

The real beauty of the program is that it is digitally driven. In a time when we’re rarely more than an arms-length away from our phones (despite some clubs with stricter rules), the Identification & Retrieval System piggybacks on that form of communication. Reporting a lost item triggers an email that zips right to someone’s inbox (typically synched to our phones) to immediately notify them. Much easier for the finder than chasing down everybody with a tee time in front of you.

“You can be anywhere in the world and if somebody finds your club and they go to that URL, which is golfcanada.ca/id, you can receive a message from them so long as you have a valid email address in your Golf Canada account,” adds Hewson. “Unfortunately it won’t work otherwise.”

The Good Samaritan who finds something doesn’t have to share his or her email address although they can. And the person whose club is lost hasn’t left any personal information out on the golf course. Hopefully, though, he or she can be reunited with his or her equipment while still on the property. As opposed to returning home and realizing they left a pitching wedge on the seventh green.

The sticker labels come in a pack of 20 with extras meant for accessories, new gear or fresh adhesion. They arrive already activated and get mailed to members one of two ways. If you purchased your Gold Membership online through the Golf Canada e-commerce system, it comes with your membership card and the rest of the perks of membership. And if you’re a member at a club and registered with Golf Canada through your club, visit golfcanada.ca and request a card and the labels will come packaged with your membership card.

Golf course operators are also fans of the initiative. Discovering forgotten and lost items is extremely common at golf facilities and they can’t return them because they don’t have any idea who they belong to. The program simplifies that process both for clubs and regular players. It also falls in line with the traditions of a game built on integrity and honesty.

“The idea is that it provides golfers the opportunity to return the equipment,” says Hewson. “If I found a great Vokey wedge or Scotty Cameron putter, I could be a cheat and put it in my bag and take it home but we believe that most golfers would rather reunite the equipment with the person that lost it. And the only reason they don’t is because it isn’t easy. So let’s make it easy for people to do the right thing.”

Now the only thing you have to worry about losing is your golf ball.

To report a lost piece of equipment through the Golf Equipment Identification and Retrieval System, go to golfcanada.ca/ID. To request additional Equipment Identification labels, visit golfcanada.ca/login and request under account settings.


Search and rescue

This article was originally published in the May 2016 edition of Golf Canada Magazine. To view the full magazine, click the image to the left.