BROWN GOLF MANAGEMENT PARTNERS WITH UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE TO PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH REAL-WORLD GOLF MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE

CAMP HILL, Pa.—Brown Golf Management will partner with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) starting this fall to provide its Professional Golf Management (PGM) program students with real-world industry resources. This partnership (expands) career development opportunities for PGM students and elevates the program’s ability to prepare its future golf industry leaders.

Brown Golf Management will provide students with an inside look into golf club operations. They will learn about profitability through live financial reporting, budget development, schedule-leasing, and expense management tactics. Other topics will include advanced tee sheet management strategies and profitability analysis crucial to the principals of golf course management.

Students will have access to the latest technology and software used in the golf industry. This experience will provide aspiring leaders with insight into how technology impacts a golf club’s ability to create effective strategies that in turn drive profitability.

“This partnership is about providing an opportunity to upcoming golf management professionals,” said John Brown, CEO of Brown Golf Management. “It’s a chance for a rigid, stagnant business with a history of non-inclusion to advance by building opportunity channels for students of every background and ethnicity. We are excited to work with aspiring professionals that have dedicated themselves to learning our business and will be innovative future leaders.”

While access to Brown Golf’s industry professionals and management resources will aid in student development, another benefit is career opportunities for UMES graduates. Brown Golf will conduct mock interview sessions and help students develop cover letters and resumes to improve their chances of landing their first position in the golf industry. Internship and full-time positions will be available at Brown Golf’s network of facilities and will be posted to the university’s job boards for PGM students.

To learn more about Brown Golf Management, visit https://browngolfmanagement.com.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) is a public historically black land-grant university in Princess Anne, Maryland. It is part of the University System of Maryland. UMES is a Carnegie Classification high research activity university. Committed to providing high-quality programs in an ethnically diverse environment, the University prepares students who will serve and shape the global economy. UMES is primarily a residential University with a mission focused on learning, discovery, and engagement.

The PGM program at UMES prepares students for a career in the golf industry. The PGM program attracts and educates bright, highly motivated women and men to service all aspects of this developing industry while working toward membership in the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.

To learn more about the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Professional Golf Management Program, visit their website at https://www.umes.edu/pgm/

Royal Manchester Golf Links is an inspiring links style course featuring rolling hills and generous bent grass fairways and greens, a first class practice facility, year round teaching academy and a knowledgeable staff.

Does the GOLFNOW Acquisition of EZLinks Deserve Antitrust Scrutiny?

Is it about tee times or software… or both?

Original Article by Harvey Silverman, Silverback Marketing

View the original article here

An old boss once told me, “If you hear the same rumor three times, it’s a fact.” Despite my former boss being a nutbag, I’ve experienced his statement proven true more than once.

During the months I spent researching, interviewing, compiling, and writing the NGCOA’s “Beware of Barter” document, I heard more than three times that EZLinks was for sale and would be acquired by GOLFNOW. But it didn’t become a fact, in November 2019, until we completed the document and sent it for legal review. The Conclusion opened with an added message about the acquisition along with, “The material in this document stands as is with the caveat that over time, things may change. They typically do when two dominant forces merge. The NGCOA will continue to remain vigilant to any changes that affect the businesses and livelihoods of our members and golf course operators across the country.”

Andre Barlow is the attorney who reviewed “Beware of Barter” for NGCOA. Barlow is a partner at Doyle Barlow & Mazard, PLCC and a former trial attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The NGCOA and the USA Tee Time Coalition consults with attorneys who specialize in antitrust matters to be sure they are not overstepping their legal bounds in discouraging certain behaviors or doing business with certain companies or avoiding collusion. Boycotts or collusion by associations is an avoidable sin with appropriate legal advice.

Barlow was intrigued by GOLFNOW’s acquisition of EZLinks and walked the document over to people he knows at the DOJ. The result was an invitation to Jay Karen and Jared Williams for a preliminary discussion in Washington, D.C., with the DOJ. It so happened to coincide with the 2020 NGCOA Golf Business Conference and the PGA Merchandise Show, but when the DOJ summons you, I don’t think “Not now, we’re busy” is an acceptable response. And so, the meeting ensued.

The NGCOA has long had issues with GOLFNOW’s business practices, and behaviors reported to it by members and competitors. Fueling NGCOA’s concern of possible monopolistic aspirations was a public statement by GOLFNOW executive Jeff Foster that “we want to facilitate the booking of every round, everywhere.” (Golfweek, January 25, 2016).

The acquisition of EZLinks and, with it, Teeoff.com by NBC Sports Group moved NGCOA’s concerns to a new level – GOLFNOW’s primary competitor was no longer. Jay Karen, the NGCOA CEO, cites a call with EZLinks’ leadership the day of the announcement where he learned that the acquisition had “flew through” the government’s merger approval process, and “they asked us hardly any questions.” And so began a series of meetings with Barlow and high-level leadership at DOJ.

Attorney Barlow published an article on June 9 of this year, expressing his opinion that “NBC Sports’ purchase of EZLinks deserves antitrust scrutiny.” Barlow makes the case that “few missions are as important to the U.S. antitrust agencies as preventing anti-competitive mergers,” but that some might evade their radar. And despite a merger having already closed, “the antitrust agencies have jurisdiction to challenge any transaction that may substantially lessen competition,” and unwinding those already consummated. He cites several cases proving this point.

Barlow insists the GOLFNOW/EZLinks merger should be on the antirust radar with several key points:

  1. Comcast’s NBC Sports Group’s acquisition of EZLinks eliminated head to head competition in both the online tee time agency space, as well as the golf management software markets.
  2. With the addition of EZLinks, GOLFNOW controls about 90% of aggregated, online tee time inventory, and over 60% of the golf management software market (The Internet Golf Course Database [IGDB] reports the combined entities with 62% market share as of summer 2019).
  3. The software is the “key technology piece controlling the distribution of a public golf course operator’s tee times to any rival online tee time agency or booking technology.”
  4. Trial courts accept narrowly defined markets even in technology mergers. In this instance, “no other products have the same attributes as an online tee time agency platform.” GOLFNOW and EZLinks “competed on both sides of the online platform,” competing for both golf course tee times and golfers.
  5. Due to indirect network effects, significant entry barriers exist for any rival online tee time agency. Given the figures quoted above, GOLFNOW is in a position to deny upstart online tee time agencies and booking apps access to its clients’ tee sheets.
  6. With approximately 90% of the online tee time agency market post-merger and GOLFNOW having eliminated its biggest competitor, Barlow thinks the merger is presumptively unlawful.

Colleagues have asked whether it’s the NGCOA’s place to get involved in a potential antitrust case involving two of golf’s largest technology providers. Jay Karen responded passionately (Note: I invited GOLFNOW to comment on Barlow’s article, and they declined).

Most troubling to Karen is that “the tee time distributors and marketers controlling most of the software market is the most troubling structural aspect of the marketplace. GOLFNOW has enough control of the inventory to prevent their client golf courses from distributing their tee times on sites that GOLFNOW would deem competitive. Conversely, if a competing or new online tee time agency desired access to the golf courses, GOLFNOW can lock them out or control the economic conditions for that to happen. That kind of control of a golf course’s inventory, let alone a majority of the industry’s tee time inventory, is too dangerous to overlook. I would like to see the federal government look into decoupling the software platforms from the distribution platforms as a structural remedy.”

Karen continues, “Let the distribution companies compete, let the software companies compete, and let there be more open connectivity among all systems. We are in favor of whatever allows golf courses more choice and fewer restrictions by their software and distributor vendors. In the end, the golf course should be in complete charge of their rates and where their tee times are sold. In that regard, the current marketplace is broken, and the by-far largest player seems to have stretched beyond legal bounds.”

The courts consider two aspects in antitrust cases – structural and behavioral. A structural decision might force GOLFNOW to divest of its acquisition or somehow split it. A behavioral decision would force the combined company to follow a prescribed set of conditions like DOJ did with the Ticketmaster and LiveNation online ticketing case.

Will it happen? The antitrust agencies, DOJ and FTC, have to make the first move. Should it happen? If this article starts the debate, and NGCOA has stated its case, we’ll hopefully soon hear the other side of the argument. A judgment awaits from both the golf industry and maybe the courts.

 


Harvey Silverman is the proprietor of his marketing consultancy, Silverback Golf Marketing, and the co-founder of Quick.golf, golf’s only pay-by-hole app. Harvey authored NGCOA’s “Beware of Barter” document and has spoken at their Golf Business Conferences and Golf Business TechCon. He writes a monthly article for the Pellucid Perspective and occasionally displays his less than stellar skills on a golf course.

The Country Club of Whispering Pines is one of the finest golf properties in all of North Carolina – featuring two distinctly different 18-hole layouts (River & Pines).

For nearly four decades, golfers from across the globe have ventured to Foxfire Resort & Golf to experience our unique blend of layout, natural beauty and high-quality service.

Brown Golf purchased Eagle Ridge Golf Club in 2012, and has assumed operations of all aspects of the course. Since then, Eagle Ridge has enjoyed huge increased in rounds and revenue

Scottish-style golf is featured on the front nine; while the towering pines, majestic oaks, winding fairways and flowing water on the back nine are reminiscent of the Carolinas.

Scottish-style golf is featured on the front nine; while the towering pines, majestic oaks, winding fairways and flowing water on the back nine are reminiscent of the Carolinas.

Scottish-style golf is featured on the front nine; while the towering pines, majestic oaks, winding fairways and flowing water on the back nine are reminiscent of the Carolinas.

36 Holes of pristine championship golf immersed in Southern elegance and natural beauty. A must-play for every golfer.

Why GOLFPASS May be the Worst Thing for Golf Courses Since the Bartered Tee Time

Original Article Written By Jay Karen, CEO | National Golf Course Owners Association

View the original article here

While there are promising indicators and progressive things happening in golf that cause me to be quite bullish about the long term prospects of our industry, the business of running golf courses in America – by and large – has been a slog for the past 15 years. The supply and demand curve has been moving in the wrong direction since before the Great Recession. Most experts agree the number of course closures will continue to far outpace course openings for the next decade. If you compare the average price of a round of golf ($38 according to We Are Golf) to the change in Consumer Price Index, golf is arguably cheaper than it has ever been. Pellucid Corp reports that 39% of golf courses in America operate in the red. Despite the challenges, I do not believe there is a macro, existential crisis (there are over 14,000 golf courses generating an $84B impact on the American economy). However, this is our current climate. It’s still a great business, but it is hard to succeed.

While the economic pie of rounds and revenue seems to shrink, one can’t help but notice the prosperous rise of Online Tee Time Agencies (OTTAs). With too many courses and not enough golf being played, the supply and demand plight naturally causes downward pressure on the price of golf, thereby creating conditions incredibly challenging for the typical golf course operator. Golfers can find affordable golf in every market in the United States. It’s a buyer’s market, plain and simple.

The OTTAs in golf claim to serve both the supply side (primarily through technology and marketing services to golf courses) and the demand side (primarily through easy booking of tee times for golfers). However, from my observation, their value is heavily weighted towards the needs and desires of the golfers – the aggregation of tee time options at multiple golf courses, all on one screen. I don’t believe golf courses need the marketing services of OTTAs to meet the natural demand for golf in our marketplace, nor do I think they stimulate incremental demand for golf. But that’s me. Unfortunately, despite the positive contributions to the game of golf from the parent companies and organizations affiliated with the OTTAs, the dominating push by the OTTAs to sell the lowest priced tee times, which conditions golfers to favor those times, is an albatross around the necks of the golf courses who provide the inventory.

Why “FREE GOLF” is detrimental to the health of our industry

If you are among the audience or followers of NBC, NBC Sports or the Golf Channel, you’ve likely seen the recent launch of the new GOLFPASS program. GOLFPASS is Golf Channel’s investment in the subscription model of services for their golfing customers. Leveraging the celebrity of Rory McElroy to give it serious fuel, GOLFPASS offers golfers one free round of golf every month, access to subscriber-only golf content, 400+ hours of instruction, travel credit at golf resorts, and more – all for as little as $99 for an annual subscription, or $9.99 per month.

As a subscription service, there’s actually a lot of value packed into GOLFPASS. It reminds me of Amazon Prime. For the low fee of $12.99 per month, Prime subscribers get free, two-day shipping on over 100 million items, exclusive access to favorite moves and shows, unlimited access to millions of songs, unlimited photo storage, free online gaming, and more. Compared to when free shipping was the only benefit, it’s easy to see why consumers are so attracted to the value package. Looking at GOLFPASS, there’s a lot of value packed into the offer. It will no doubt increase engagement in golf, and that is a good thing for all of us concerned about retaining interest and involvement in the golf economy. Although GOLFPASS marketing doesn’t appear to single out the free round as the primary feature (as free shipping has been the primary feature of Amazon Prime since the beginning), I cannot help but be fixated on the free golf. But I am biased, because I represent the supply side of the industry – the golf courses around the United States. Free golf is the fatal flaw for all the golf courses now inextricably and unwittingly involved in the program.

This Tweet was removed by GOLFPASS. It’s an example of the gluttonous posture towards golf courses.

Let’s attempt to follow the dollars and see what is happening. Joe Mulligan gives his Visa card number to the Golf Channel as a new GOLFPASS subscriber, and the Golf Channel bank account increases by $10 per month – automatically (and exponentially, of course) – while Joe likely forgets over the next four years that his card is even being charged. Isn’t that the little secret of the subscription model – that the seller benefits from the “breakage”? Meaning, if Joe doesn’t actually – or frequently – use the benefits being offered, the Golf Channel still gets Joe’s regular monthly payment. Many companies – even golf courses themselves – are moving in this direction. Nevertheless, score one for the Golf Channel!

Joe gets his first monthly promo code from GolfNow and goes to GolfNow.com to book his free round of golf in the Orlando market, and claims his “Hot Deal” (free round promo codes can only be used on the bartered tee times, and only Mon-Thur after 12:00 pm). If the Golf Channel is lucky enough, Joe got his buddies to sign up for GOLFPASS, and they all sign up for the 12:08 p.m. tee time on Monday. Joe and his buddies enjoy their round of “free” golf, go home, and hope to do it again next month after GolfNow emails the next promo code. Score one for Joe and his buddies!

 

 

See how the monthly promo code reduced the price from $38 to $0. Price integrity be damned!

While incurring the costs associated with Joe’s round of golf, the golf course received no income and attracted customers whose primary motivation was to pay as little as possible. One can make an argument that the golf course scored by receiving some marketing and technology benefits (among other possibilities) from GolfNow in exchange for no-revenue, bartered tee times. And some might argue that Joe and his buddies are going to buy some hot dogs and beer while on property. But I think that is a dubious position (more on that later). So for argument’s sake, I say the golf course scored zero.

No matter the deal or the no deal between golf courses and GolfNow, the last thing our industry needs is major corporate media promoting free golf to the masses on the back of golf course owners and operators. OTTAs are already adept at peddling rounds of golf at 20-80% off the rates of adjacent tee times on the tee sheet. Do golfers now need free golf in order to play? Is it hyperbolic to think the only natural progression after free is that golf courses will one day have to pay golfers to play their courses?

GolfNow’s first Tweet after the media launch of GOLFPASS. Notice the emphasis on FREE golf.

If GOLFPASS is wildly successful, it could very well mean millions of rounds of free golf being played all across the land, while golf courses continue to bear the burden of the significant fixed and variable costs needed to keep the golf courses running. The shrinking effect on the bottom line will be harmful at best and devastating at worst, leading to greater struggles and possibly more closures of good golf courses. How would this ultimately good for the golfer? How is this good for anyone in golf, including employees that work at golf courses and vendors that partner with golf courses? What about the housing development adjacent to those courses now offering free golf? Are they looking forward to viewing fallow land out their back windows?

Why bartered golf is the kryptonite weakening our industry

We cannot separate the danger of free golf from the fact that over 6,000 golf courses willingly provide the bartered inventory to allow this to happen. Barter itself is not an evil concept. As a method of exchange, it dates back to ancient times. If bartering involves the fair trading of goods or services between two willing parties receiving comparable value in the exchange, there is no problem. However, a “haze of ambiguous value” clouds the entire barter economy in golf, thereby preventing course operators from truly understanding what they are giving up in this exchange.

OTTAs that offer barter to golf courses as a compensation option are not evil per se. OTTAs, like GolfNow, capitalized on an incredibly clever business concept that was once much more discreet in nature. Before the meteoric rise of GolfNow as we know it today, the lowest-demand tee times were once peddled only through vehicles like email, where a golfer couldn’t easily compare the discounted rounds against all the other rounds in an aggregated view.

When the bartered round of golf was made the centerpiece of the relationship in an online environment, which included handing over partial or total control of pricing to the OTTAs for those rounds of golf, the OTTAs found themselves sitting on a treasure trove of inventory over which they had partial or total price control (certainly the fatal flaw operators have made over the years in these dealings). The decade around the Great Recession only made the conditions more conducive to build this treasure trove, because they were offering services for no cash-out-of-pocket. There might be nothing more seductive to a cash-poor business that runs below 50% occupancy than free technology and marketing. Thus, the permeation and influence of the OTTAs spread like a viral infection in our weakest moments. Some argue that the bartered inventory did nothing more than create new, virtual golf courses that compete directly against the very ones that supply them with their inventory. Research from the Golf USA Tee Time Coalition reveals that 47% of golf courses participating on OTTAs believe they are in direct competition with their OTTAs (an additional 26% are on the fence). Unfortunately, Coalition data also reveals that golf courses that barter don’t appear to be ready to give it up. While more than half of golf courses do not agree that barter should be a payment option in our industry, 86% of those who barter would prefer it to continue. These relationships are complicated, to say the least, and wrangling back control of pricing and inventory is going to be its own slog.

The ORCA Report, which has approximately 700 public golf courses sharing performance data every month, yields one of the most important data points in our industry and helps to remove the haze: Barter Opportunity Cost. BOC indicates what income a golf course might expect to earn had they sold those bartered rounds on their own (at an average price based on the price sold of adjacent tee times). Early insight into ORCA data coming from nearly 400 golf courses engaging in barter reveals an average of $37,000 in BOC for 2018. I recognize that golf courses participating in barter might not sell all of those tee times on their own, and OTTAs are not getting full price for those rounds. But this certainly gives you an indication of what the recapture could be if golf courses employed better marketing and price controls.

One real course example of Barter Opportunity Cost in 2018 – nearly $90K.

OTTAs do anything they can to monetize those bartered rounds, including the use of discount codes, gift cards, and now subscription. They’ve moved from gluttony (who remembers the rap video at the GolfNow sales meeting about selling boatloads of trade time?) to desperation (free): both deadly sins in business. All this on the backs of golf course owners and operators. I am gravely concerned that price abdication by golf courses and the prolific offering of heavily-discounted and free golf will grease the already-slippery slope towards struggle and possibly more course failure. What the golf industry desperately needs are these OTTAs to emulate the restaurant industry’s OpenTable, which facilitates no discounts or free meals. The OTTAs should have no influence on price. Let the courses compete on their own merits, and just give the world frictionless, beautiful aggregation and ease of booking – and get out of the way.

Each bartered round sold that strengthens the OTTA simultaneously weakens the golf course. The parasite-host relationship is not symbiotic.

Later this season, NGCOA will publish a guide for course operators interested in understanding the details of barter. This resource will take a comprehensive look at the economics of barter in our industry, services offered in exchange for barter, prices that can be paid for such services, tips for negotiating healthy contracts, and more tools and knowledge to help course operators calculate the cost-benefit equation. The manifestation of GOLFPASS and marketing of free golf should cause course operators everywhere to take a fresh look at their dealings. At the very least, explore what the pay-to-play options are, and calculate your BOC. Talk with your neighbors. Have you gone on and off barter and have a positive story to tell? Please share it with us. Course owners and operators: we have to stop whistling past the graveyard and end this race to the bottom.

Jay Karen

Chief Executive Officer

National Golf Course Owners Association

GolfNow is cable, and it’s time to stream.

We are four articles into our “Taking Our Golf Back” series. The articles to date are largely geared toward educating the market about the detrimental nature of barter golf. There is an undercurrent in the industry that is tired of allowing third-party platforms like golfnow.com and teeoff.com the ability to own their lowest price, own their customer data, and then remarket to their competitors. The future of online tee time bookings will drastically change as owners and operators are provided more solutions that combat these major flaws in the online tee time booking industry.

In the past five years, cable subscribers’ numbers are in free fall and the “cord-cutting” movement is upon us as it relates to TV viewership. Consumers view streaming services as less expensive, more convenient, more options, more flexibility of viewing on multiple devices, and overall a better experience than cable TV. The numbers indicate that more and more viewers are making the switch. See Nasdaq article for more information on this topic:

I made the switch six months ago and I could not be happier. However, I had been thinking about the switch for three years. So why did it take me so long? The same reason golf course operators and owners stay on GolfNow. It was fear. I was afraid:

  • I would lose my favorite channels
  • I would not have access to live events
  • I was uncomfortable with smart TVs
  • I was uncomfortable with understanding the streaming services
  • I did not want to deal with the hassle of canceling my current cable relationship

However, once I understood the technology, options, pricing, capabilities, and other consumer’s experiences it was an easy decision. Many parallels can be drawn between my experience leaving cable television and my experience leaving golfnow.com. I knew it was the right decision for years, but fear kept me entrenched longer than I should have. As I learned more, received more data, and became more open to other solutions I was able to conquer the fear of leaving both. The “Taking Our Golf Back” article series is written with an intent to arm the industry with the necessary information to conquer the fear of leaving third party tee time platforms. In June of 2020, we surveyed 6,700 golfers about their online tee time behavior and the results were telling.

The Survey GolfNow does not want you to see:

In the last 12 months, have you booked a tee time through an online channel?

  • Yes 79.3% (5,316 people)
  • No 20.7% (1,387 people)

For golfers that answered they had not booked online, they were asked the following:

Do you check internet pricing before calling the golf shop?

  • 45.7% (634 people) Use the internet to check pricing before calling for a tee time
  • 54.3% (753 people) Do not use the internet to check pricing

What websites do you use to check pricing options?

  • Course Website 54.7%
  • GolfNow.com 35.5%
  • TeeOff.com 7.7%
  • Others 2.1%

Survey Notes: A powerful statistic is 20% of golfers have not booked a tee time online in the past 12 months and of those golfers, 45% have checked the internet for a courses inventory before they call to make a tee-time over the phone. Of that 45%, over half are checking the courses website and not a third party, meaning they are looking at one course’s inventory and not several. This behavior speaks to a mindset of a golfer deciding which course they want to play and then evaluating where they can book a tee time for the lowest rate. They are not looking at multiple courses and then deciding on the best deal. They are focused on one course and then finding the best deal at that course.

When asked why they do not book online? – Multiple answers were available for submission.

  • I enjoy the personal touch of talking to someone (892 people)
  • To avoid added fees (309 people)
  • I always get a better deal when I call the golf shop (220 people)
  • Too difficult to book online (160 people)
  • Security Reasons (112 people)
  • 265 other reasons were disclosed

Survey Notes: It appears golfers still do appreciate the personal interaction with the golf shop over online bookings. A good thing for all of us.

 

For golfers that answered they had booked a tee time through an online channel were asked the following:

Which online channels have you used to book a tee time? Multiple answers were available for submission.

  • 4,016 people said they booked on a course’s website
  • 3,682 people said they have booked on GolfNow.com
  • 1,446 people said they have booked TeeOff.com
  • 43 people said they have booked on Supreme Golf
  • 82 people said they have booked on other sites

Survey Notes: More golfers book on a golf course’s website then on golfnow.com. So why are we allowing GolfNow to sell their “hot deals” on our golf course website’s booking engine? When they list their “hot deal” on your golf course website they are redirecting an organic customer of the golf course. That customer visited the course website because of the branding and reputation of that course in that market. The customer traffic goes to the course website, sees a “hot deal”, buys the “hot deal”, and the course likely receives $0 income while GolfNow is paid for that trade time. Assuming in this hypothetical GolfNow is using the “hot deal” to sell it’s trade.

If you think about this in terms of numbers as it relates to our survey, 6,700 golfers filled out the survey, 4,016 golfers are going to your course website for inventory, if we had GolfNow booking engines and “hot deals” on our course website that would translate to 4,016 times that an organic customer was exposed to a “hot deal”. In all likelihood that “hot deal” will be very appealing as the lowest price.

When that deal is purchased, the redirection of revenue occurs with the golf course receiving $0 and GN receiving payment for its trade. In a addition, GolfNow in all likelihood collects this customers information and you have turned an organic customer to the club into a customer that GolfNow can now re-market other “hot deal” opportunities on golfnow.com.

If you found lower pricing on the course’s website versus a third-party, would you book directly with the course?

  • Yes (97.8%)
  • No (2.2%)

If the golf course’s website had “daily deals”, would that encourage you to book with them directly?

  • Yes (96.7%)
  • No (3.3%)

If a golf course you like to play was no longer found on GolfNow, would you still find a way to book a tee time at the course?

  • Yes (94.3%)
  • No (5.7%) – (94% of these golfers answered yes when asked if the golf courses website had lower pricing that they would book directly – leaving only 18 people that said No to both questions)

Survey Notes: Another powerful set of questions displays that if a golfer is familiar with your facility there were only 18 times out of 6,700 surveys that a golfer answered the above questions with a No for both questions. Meaning if the course offers daily deals there is only 0.2% of the total golfers that would no longer play your facility if not listed on golfnow.com.

Drilling down on the question of which online channels had been used to book a tee time, we discovered the following:

Of the 3,682 people that stated they had booked through GolfNow, 806 people stated this was the only channel they had used to book a tee time.

Of these 806 people:

  • 96.5% of them said if the pricing on the course website was lower than what was found on GolfNow, then they would book directly with the course.
  • 97% of them said if the course website had their own daily deals, they would be encouraged to book directly with the course.
  • 89.5% of them said they would book directly with the course if they were no longer found on GolfNow

Of the 1,446 people that booked on TeeOff.com, only 120 of them stated this was the only channel they had booked online.

  • 98% of them said if the pricing on the course website was lower than what was found on TeeOff, then they would book directly with the course.
  • 97% of them said if the course website had their own daily deals, they would be encouraged to book directly with the course.
  • 88% of them said they would book directly with the course if they were no longer found on TeeOff.com.
  • 2,267 people stated they find prices “not including daily deals” are lower on the third-party site
  • 1,628 stated they are only after the “daily deals”
  • 214 people stated because of the Loyalty/Rewards Program

Survey Notes: These two questions are immensely powerful to understand. If we combine the golfnow.com and teeoff.com information then of the 6,700 golfers surveyed, there are 926 that primarily book on either golfnow.com or teeoff.com as their current buying behavior. You could assume that 13.3% of available golfers might not see your inventory if you were not listed on these platforms. However, if you offered your lowest price on the website then 97% would be willing to change their booking habits! What does this mean, you can convert the most loyal third-party tee time customers with the lowest rate in the market. Consumers that book on third party platforms are price sensitive and you can draw them back by offering your own price breaks. If you protect against giving away your best rate you naturally curve the reliance on third party tee time platforms.

When asked how much does pricing play on what channel you book your tee time through, on a scale of 1 – 10, the average was 7.21

  • 51.8% of people are more concerned with the price rather than the time of day they play
  • 48.2% of people are more concerned with when they play rather than the price

Survey Notes: I have seen this response returned in multiple surveys. About 50% of golfers are more concerned with time of play, and 50% are more concerned with price. There are two distinct groups for every golf course to market to.

The survey results indicate that a golf course with the correct strategy of maintaining its lowest price on its website can and will attract golfers that engage exclusively on third-party platforms. Furthermore, of the 6,700 participants in this survey, only 13.3% primarily used golfnow.com or teeoff.com. Almost all are willing to alter their behavior if a course provides the lowest price on its website. There is no indication from these results that a course should give away its customer data collection opportunity and its lowest price via barter. Do not be afraid to leave third party tee time platforms, golfers will find your course!

I am happy to share this survey with other operators. I encourage other operators to send the same questions to their database and get feedback from their customers. Share the results on LinkedIn and lets all be transparent about what our customers feedback is as it relates to online tee time bookings. I genuinely believe that we are all in this together, and if we can compile this feedback from golfers, I think we will have a better understanding of the real value of third-party tee time distribution.

Sincerely,

John Brown

CEO – Brown Golf