As a member of a local popular golf course, there are times when I am fighting for a tee time. The reasons for this challenge varies, but it is something that all golfers experience. Unfortunately, the staff at the course will bare the brunt of cranky members, however is it really their fault? Or are they the messenger that just got shot?
Before flying off the handle next time you cannot secure your preferred tee time, it might be worth thinking about why the course is so busy and maybe it has nothing to do with the person you are about to tear a strip off of. So, let me put things into perspective just a little bit.
- Fixed Costs. The cost to operate a golf course increase every year. Running any business is challenging, but running a golf course is even more so. Our local course hires about 20 local people; they cut grass every day, make constant improvements to the course, maintain expensive equipment, and ensure that there is someone available from 7 am to 8 pm to service customers (to name a few). The fixed costs never go away!
- Variable Costs. These costs are something that are unforeseen and cannot be account for when business planning. For example, this spring was a complete bust. We never really started golfing regularly until June. Thus very little revenue for the course in May. Additionally, there are fertilizer costs, tree removal, cart repairs, etc. The variable costs can be very high.
- Too many tournaments. As a member, I wish the course did not have to host any tournaments, but that is completely unrealistic. I am not willing to pay the membership costs needed to have not events. So, in order for my course to survive, tournaments are a must.
- Hosting special events. As a form of tournaments, Osprey links hosts various charitable events. The one that sticks out in my mind this year was the Special Olympics tournament last month. Osprey Links gives back to the community and sometimes at a loss. There is a bigger picture here for sure.
- Specific tee times. As with any course, there are specific times that are coveted. Usually early morning before 9 am and later in the afternoon. It is a challenge getting a time then, but outside these timings you can walk on and play. Even if busy, a single can usually find a match!
As you can see that it is not always easy to get a tee time. We as members have to keep in mind that our favourite sports facility is a business and they have to do what is needed to first survive, then make a profit. So, the next time you decide to complain about fighting for a tee time, make sure you understand all the facts before teeing off on the proshop staff.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
6 thoughts on “Fighting For Tee Times At Your Local Golf Course”
I have studied the issue extensively and written about it my two books, Golfonomics, and Super Golfonomics. When prices are set too low there is what economists call excess demand or shortage. Queuing is one very wasteful solution as it just raises the cost (not an out of pocket cost but a wasted time cost nonetheless) without anyone getting a benefit. Lottery systems and call in systems are frustrating and subject to manipulation. I use a case study of Bethpage Black course to highlight the many pathologies of trying to keep the green fee too low in the first few chapters of Super Golfonomics. And in Golfonomics I highlight how time of day and other multiple price strategies ration the limited tee slots while increasing revenue for the course. Check them out.
Emeritus Professor of Economics
California State University, East Bay
Hayward, CA 94542
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You are so right with your analysis Jim. I have been very fortunate in London and now in Australia where tee times only exist during competitions. It is show up and play when first tee box is free. I do remember struggling in Ottawa as tee times would fill up quickly and it always seemed that the same foursomes played every Saturday and Sunday at 10 AM, even when it was a lottery! Courses need to generate revenue and you have expertly outlined the benefits to us members as fees remain low because of green fees, social play and competitions. Great article to allow all to understood why it is important for courses to generate revenue and maintain the facilities that we so enjoy.
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Thanks Kirk! I appreciate the kind words. Glad to hear you are getting out more in Australia. I am sure your game is improving very quickly and I look forward to teeing it up you soon.
Since I’m not a member anywhere, I can’t complain about a lack of available tee times. But I don’t expect that is much of a problem here anyway with all the courses we have to choose from. I would guess the only time a member might have a problem with that is in the winter months when we are at our busiest. On the public courses around here, if you’re late calling in to get a tee time at one course, there is always another that can get you in. And walking on even with a foursome is seldom hard to do. The last couple of times I got turned away was because of tournaments that I hadn’t known about and both times I was on the first tee on another course half an hour later.
I finally got to play on Sunday after a week of getting rained out. The course was still wet enough that a few of my drives got buried, but I was able to find them all and dig them out this time and I didn’t have to hit out of any standing water this time around which I was thankful for. I hit the middle of every fairway except two. One I pulled a bit left and ended up just a couple feet left of the fairway, and the other was just a couple feet past the fairway but on the right hand side which is just where I didn’t want it as you can’t see the green from that side. But I hit a great pitching wedge over the tree’s to about 12 feet right of the flag from there anyway so it worked out as good as I could hope for. The greens were still recovering from being aerated so my putting was what I considered just acceptable but not great by any means. I missed all my birdie attempts but made all the needed par saves which helped me stay positive. And except for one terrible wedge shot that I shanked into even more trouble, I might have gotten my first par round. As it was though, considering the conditions and except for that shanked shot, I thought I put on a pretty good show. My only birdie for the day came on the last hole. I hit a really nice drive on the par 5 hole and left myself 220 to the green. I hit a tall fade with my 3 wood from there to about ten feet from the pin. And of course, missed the eagle putt but had a tap in birdie that made my day complete.
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That many courses in the area must be great. We have few to choose from here, but at least we have a few. Great to hear you are back golfing and the forced rest seems to have helped your game a bit. Solid round overall.