Taking our Golf Back – Introduction

The announcement of Brown Golf moving away from GolfNow and our push to stop trading tee times has sparked many great conversations and comments. Organization’s like the NGCOA have released full scale publications such as Beware of Barter addressing the impact of barter to educate the market (Article discussed in the March 2020 Edition of Golf Business). In 2018, The Tee Time Coalition released its bill of rights for golf course operators as it relates to marketing and distribution of tee times which addresses eight points every golf course operator should strive for. www.teetimecoalition.org/billofrights/. The industry is becoming more and more aware of the dangers of barter. I am excited to be a part of this new wave of information. In the coming weeks, Brown Golf will be releasing a series of articles titled Taking Our Golf Back with the goal of educating the marketplace on barter, GolfNow, and improving your overall business. The time is now to protect your business.

Example Business:

Imagine you are the owner of a company (Company A). It can be any company in any industry. A vendor in your industry brings you a pitch (Company B). Company B will bring you marketing exposure through a national network and provide you the opportunity to access customers you may or may not have had access to before. There is no out of pocket expense and it will only lead to new sales they say! Company B has a large market presence, has infiltrated every area of your industry, many of your competitors use them, and it is owned by a nationally recognized brand. More access, more sales, and absolutely zero out of pocket expenses. Sign me up.

What if the requirements of Company B to provide this access were two small things? Those items being:

  • Company A must allow Company B to collect all of their customer information. This includes the ability for Company B to re-market to those customers and promote your competitors’ products.
  • Company A must also allow Company B the ability to offer the lowest price in the market.

When the prospects of giving away your customer information and your best price are presented does access to a larger network still interest you? An argument could be made that if Company A made more money than perhaps. However, any industry that gives away their customer data and best price is setting itself up for long term failure.

GolfNow Platform:

There are 9,000+ courses listed on Golfnow.com. 9,000+ Golf Course decision makers have said I believe GolfNow’s network is in my best interest. I don’t mind bartering for access to their network and giving up opportunities to collect customer data and offer the lowest price. I believe I am making more revenues as a result of this relationship. I feel I am getting value from this relationship.

In 2016, Brown Golf got serious about understanding the mechanics of how GolfNow operates at our facilities and more importantly what our agreements with GolfNow meant to the impact of our overall golf revenues which for the purpose of this series is defined as green fee, cart fee, and range revenue.

Brown Golf answered the question that all golf course owners and operators need to answer.

Does GolfNow revenue provide a positive correlation to a club’s golf revenues?

Brown Golf:

Brown Golf is a company with a portfolio that contains long term leases, third party management contracts, and annual consulting agreements. We currently operate nineteen facilities totaling 27 golf courses in seven states that include VT, PA, NC, SC, GA, FL, and MO. The company began operations in January of 2011 and over the years we have implemented several strategies to gain control of our tee sheets. We are uniquely qualified to educate the industry for the following reasons:

  • The data provided will be for golf courses we lease. The decisions we have made have directly impacted our bottom line.
  • We have had deep corporate relationships with both GolfNow and EzLinks. We had a distribution relationship with GolfNow which allowed us to list inventory on their core platform. Two consecutive agreements since 2014. We had a point of sales and technology relationship with Ezlinks since March of 2017. Prior to that we were an IBS customer. Ezlinks purchased IBS in 2016.
  • As a result, we were one of the first multi-course operators who had an Ezlinks agreement expire after the GolfNow and Ezlinks transaction.
  • In 2018, we opened our BG Drive department. Which is a department focused on sales, marketing, and technology. This department has been essential to deeper analysis and understanding of the impact of third-party tee time companies on our portfolio.
  • We have just concluded a six-month analysis of all point of sales companies and tools. As a result of this analysis, we have elected to move forward with a new POS partner and as of April 7th, 2020 we have formally transitioned all of our leased properties to a new platform. We are no longer listed on golfnow.com or teeoff.com.
  • Lastly, and most importantly in 2016 we made the decision it was time to put the systems in place to ensure we could truly measure our relationship with GolfNow.

Series Topics:

In the coming weeks and months, we will distribute articles and communication about our experience with GolfNow. We look forward to continuing the many great conversations that have already been started about an industry ready for a change. We are here as a resource. We understand the idea of converting your technology relationship away from a company that controls 90%+ of the third-party tee time market, and 75% of the public golf course POS market is scary. There is a path to better solutions, a clearer understanding, market-based cash pricing, and the ability for a golf course to own its customer data and the lowest price in the market. We plan to show you that path.

Sincerely,

John M. Brown

CEO – Brown Golf