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Private clubs and COVID Tee Sheet Access


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Well the restriction on the guys in question is can't tee off before 10 am on weekdays. Otherwise, it's wide open. So we're paying for basically 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday morning. (First tee time is 7 am.)

They are playing weekends as well.

As 2bgood said, phase 3 might change things, and it's mostly a COVID issue. Given we haven't been able to host any weddings or anything, If these guys are spending money while they are at the course, I'm not about to actually ask anyone to consider more restrictions. But tee sheet is slammed. A no tee time setup would be absolute insanity. You would wait hours to tee off. They have gotten better about enforcing the no show penalty, which could have easily been a problem.

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It is amazing how no tee times turns into self selecting groups very quickly. I didn’t understand before I belonged to a club that did it. That said, the other clubs I belong to have tee times (and allow zero outside play and very tight guest restrictions) and it is sometimes more difficult even with 1/3 of the member numbers. Interestingly, one of them has a policy unlike the others. It has tee times but is it also a resort/fractional ownership club. Full members can just go whenever and we’re always “next”, i.e., we just show up and tell them when we want to go and they hold up the tee times to let us out. It works surprisingly well.

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This is pretty comical. At most clubs the under 40 membership loses money (sometime lost of money), but the idea is you bring in some members that will be around until they are older and you make the money back at some point. So telling the older folks to leave if they don't like it, is telling the people that pay for bills to leave - and if they did the club would collapse.

 

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My previous club and current club both have restrictions on social members only. If you're a golf member, you're a golf member. Full stop.

We've been slammed too obviously, but man do I hate needing a tee time (basically required right now). It's more a principal thing than anything else, I miss the privilege of being able to decide on a whim to go see if the course was open enough to squeeze a few holes in. My club also does not implement any sort of published tee sheet or online system so you have to call and talk to someone in the shop. It's more of a PITA than most public courses and I swear you could cut the staffing level in half because there are guys that do nothing but stand at the phone all day for tee time requests.

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I really don't understand what you are looking for.  You are complaining others are getting a tee times.  You are saying that you can still play so it is not a big deal.  Then you say you are mad that you are picking up the tab, but then finish off saying the discounted rate overall works well for the club? 

What are you looking for?

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This is an interesting comment to me. I would like to understand how anyone paying dues of any size is "losing lots of money" for a club. Clubs have junior memberships typically because they dont have enough full members, and so they use the incentive of lower fees for potential future full members. Im missing how this loses money. If anything in my mind it adds revenue where before there were goose eggs.

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You have a junior membership because juniors have less cash but you still need to replace the older members you lose through attrition. Younger members often "use" the club more and use more of the club thus they may consume more than they pay. They get more value out than they pay for.

The best member is the absentee member that pays full freight and never darkens the clubhouse door. They only add in cash and don't take anything away. When that member wisens up or dies off you got to replace him. You going to poach a guy like him off the roster at another club or are you going to more easily sign up a younger guy looking to join a club? What's the young guy looking for? Good golf course, easy to find a game if he wants, vibrant and active membership, plenty of stuff for the wife and kids.

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I've belonged to both kinds. While there is a certain romantic appeal to the no tee times approach, on the whole I prefer knowing when I will be able to start. When it's a 45-minute (each way) drive to the course it's a pretty big deal for me to know I'll be able to get out promptly once I'm there.

If I were retired and basically looking for an excuse to hang out at the club all day anyway, I'd probably feel different. But a often as not I have stuff scheduled before and after golf. It's already a 5+ hour block of time including the commute, having it stretch out an extra hour or more at random some days just gets old after a while.

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From August 18, 2021 I will be away from GolfWRX for a while.

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That’s a totally different case. Both clubs I’ve belonged to I’ve lived no less than 10 minutes away from. In your situation I would think having tee times would be a necessity when choosing a club because of the drive. 45 minutes is quite a long way to drive to your club. I would think majority of people that belong to a club live less than 20.

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I see your sentiment, but this idea still makes no sense to me. If your club had enough full members beating down the door to join a junior membership would not be needed. If you have to lure them in with lower fees then they bring value even with a lower fee, and should be treated equally. I have yet to belong to a club where the younger members "use" the club more. In fact at the three clubs I have belonged to the person you describe as being a "consumer" maximizing useage and scrimping any way possible have been retired folks. Never has this group been the twenty and thirty somethings....that group is the one underutilizing the club due to jobs and families. I have a hard time rationalizing this logic of jr members (which I have never been) sucking value out of a club.

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There is a cost associated with running the club, and a maximum amount of members the club can have. Take the cost to run the club and divide that by the maximum membership. If you are paying less than this number, you are losing the club money, if you are paying more than this number you are subsidizing the members who are paying lesser dues. We could eliminate our under 40 category (which is a loss leader) and add more full play members. If we did this full play dues would go down. We keep under 40's as I we believe it is good for the long term health of the club. But as under 40's pay much less than full play members they do not enjoy the same privileges.

Let me put it this way: if it costs you $10 to make a bowl of soup, and you sell its $5 - you lost money. Then if you sell it for $15 you made money.

Now if your club is not full and you have room on your tee sheet you might be able to make money on juniors etc as you suggest. This comes down to fixed costs and variable costs. Your fixed costs are static no many how many members you have, but your variable costs change based on member numbers. Course maintenance is largely a static cost, but there is a variable portion based on the number of golfers - think about the practice tee as a great example, more golfers means much more maintenance. The entire course is like this. Lots of other areas cost more based on the number of golfer too.

 

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I get the economics of a club. You used the term "loss leader". This is a perfect example of why I dont get the negative sentiment or thought to restrict U40 memberships. By definition a loss leader is at the front of the store or highlighted in advertising. It is the reason to enter the store. Nobody in management is saying "those half price widgets are losing us lots of money". By definition the value comes from the end result: more full members. Either a club has enough full members and a wait list, or there is good value in Jr Members. 2 of the top 10 private courses in scottsdale offer jr (or similar) membership. Why? unless there is value (need), it makes no sense. Part of the economic problem of golf at some courses are those that thumb their noses at extra revenue in a largely fixed cost model. Either join a club that doesnt need juniors, or let them have their run.

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The Thing is Valley is - 'loss leaders' typically come with restrictions ie- 1 per customer, must by a soda too, but one get one free etc. So it is not odd that some of these introductory membership should have restrictions too. I think it makes perfect sense to have a hierarchy of who gets access to the tee first based on the dues you pay.

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The first part of your post is an over simplification of whether a member makes or loses the club money.

If a club costs $6M to run and has 300 members, the average cost per member is $20K.

Adding member #301 doesn’t necessarily cost the club an additional $20K. The break even point for member #301 is the incremental cost of having them join, which given the fixed cost inherent in any golf club is in all cases going to be less than the average cost spread across all members.

When I was treasurer of my club, I performed an analysis that pegged our incremental cost of bringing in a new member at approx $5K. Full dues were approx $22K and the most junior membership dues were approx $3K. We were ok with taking a small loss on the juniors because of the other things having those junior members brought to the club. Our loss on those members was around $2K - ie if we eliminated that membership category, our P&L would improve by approx $2k per junior member. We certainly weren’t taking a $17K loss (our average cost less junior membership dues) for each one of our junior members.

I guess you could argue that there’s a larger opportunity cost associated with having a junior member in place where you could have a full member, but we weren’t quite at capacity, so that was a moot point for our club

 

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I have to admit I lost the plot in this thread. Who got hosed?

I can only speak for our club, the juniors and under 40 know what they are signing up for, so they don't get hosed in anyway and actually love the program. For juniors they pay about 3% of the regular dues, but get to book the tee sheet last - never heard a junior or their parent complain about this and they are very happy with that deal as their golf is virtually free if they get a spot. We actually use all the junior dues to give them scholarships and pay for them to travel to competitive events etc so the club makes no money of them and they are actually heavily subsidized. Under 40's pay between 10% and 70% depending age and have to pay about 10% of the regular non refundable joining fee. In return for this deal they can not golf weekend mornings, get later tee times on Men's night and don't have a vote. We have a wait list of over 100, so I would say they like the deal they are getting.

Under 40's also have the option of paying full price and getting all the privilege of full members - a handful do go for this option, but most are willing to give up some privileges in return for the less expensive membership.

As for members complaining about junior and under 40's. Part of the private golf club world is members complaining about something.

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Hmm I’m in Ontario as well and our club has been busy but we run on a lottery system for tee times for spots within the hour. Works pretty good from what I hear. I just jump in as a single most times so it’s never been an issue for me.

That being said I would blame the club for not managing tee times better if I was in your shoes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember the time I was a guest at an uber exclusive club, one of the most exclusive in America as a matter of fact.

 

The members were the biggest bunch of snobs, it was a crummy snobatorium.

 

I ended up getting into pretty good with one of the members over several visits, the guy was some sort of Judge, had a nasty gambling habit as well.

 

Anyway, only reason I was visiting the place was to possibly purchase the club and build some condos on the property. Golf courses and cemetery’s, biggest waste of real estate in my opinion.

 

Ended up having a big match on the last day of the visit for a ton of cash. We ended up winning, even though I had to be subbed out for an arm injury, one of the caddies took my place, sunk the winking put. Pretty sure he lost his caddy job though.

 

Not sure what the point of me telling this story was, but it was a quite the experience.

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For the people who don't understand how no-tee-times can NOT work well, consider this: 50 guys show up to play at 7:30 on a Saturday. Groups are sent out at 10 minute intervals. How long after they arrived at the club are the last four guys going to get out on the course? Who the heck wants to stand around at the club that long when you could have determined days before that you were going to play @ 9:20?

This occurred at my club EVERY weekend. It was awful. It caused distrust in the golf staff/other members, invited payoffs to get out ahead of other groups, caused people to linger at the first tee so they wouldn't get leapfrogged, etc, etc. Sure, it was great back when the club wasn't popular. But when you can only get a certain number of people on the course in certain intervals, and a lot of people show up to play at the same time(s), then the idea of "I like being able to show up and play whenever I want" goes right out the window.

With Covid forcing tee times at my club, now I can show up two hours or two minutes before I tee off, since I actually know days before when I'm going to tee off. And now the club doesn't have to completely guess at how much play/food consumption/drink consumption they're going to have on a given day. They can staff accordingly. And I can plan my day accordingly. It's a no-brainer for everyone involved.

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