I have one golf buddy who won’t play unless he gets a deal on his greens fees via a service like GolfNow. According to him, you’re crazy to pay full price when there are third-party websites out there virtually giving away open tee-time slots. And he’s not alone.
Many golfers these days are drawn to services like GolfNow in an effort to save money. In fact, GolfNow has gotten so big (it’s now part of the NBC Sports family) it’s suggested the company controls nearly half of the online tee-times in the U.S.
As a result, many in the golf industry are nervous these tee-time services are undercutting prices too severely, which might ultimately be detrimental to golf courses in general. True, GolfNow helps fill times for courses that would otherwise remain empty, along with providing digital tee-time logs instead of the old tee-sheet clipboard system – services many local mom and pop courses appreciate. But some who have considered the long-term market effects are beginning to grow concerned.
Handing customer relationships over to a third-party site is one potential problem. And coupled with the rock-bottom prices in general, golfers will begin to expect discounts everywhere (as with my buddy who is mentioned above), thus weakening the integrity of greens-fee prices within the market.
Seeing as it’s nearly impossible to ignore consumer demand, could this new lower-cost pricing model for greens fees ultimately put some courses out of business? For some course operators, using third-party tee-time sites, like GolfNow, has become a damned if they do, damned if they don’t situation. A recent in-depth piece from The Wall Street Journal (see here) captures this conundrum rather well.
This all being said, what are your thoughts on third-party tee-time websites? Are they ultimately good or bad for the golf industry? The poll and comments section are at your disposal…