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Idea - Guaranteed 4 hour Round or your money back.


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What do you think about this:  I own a public golf course. One of the most complained about things in golf is slow play.

 

My potential differentiator for my golf course:  We guarantee that you will finish your round in less than four hours, or we will refund your money for the round, and buy you a beer on your way out.

 

How do I keep this promise?  Easy:

1. In all of my ads, I tell people that this is a 4 hour or less per round golf course. If you like the idea, come join us.  If you do not, that is okay too.

2. When people book a tee time, whether in person, or online, they are told about the 4 hour rule - and told that it is because we love a reasonably fast round, and we know they do too. We let people know that we have systems in place to ensure their satisfaction regarding the 4 hour pace.

3. We record when your group tees off.  You have, on average 13.3 minutes to pay each hole.

There are three marshals that help play move right along. They are very nice, and very firm. If you fall behind by X amount of minutes, a marshal will politely inform you to pick up the pace. Stage 2 of slow play, you will be instructed to pick up your balls and move to the next tee box.

4. If there is any push back or snotty behavior toward the marshal in the face of this type of support, you will be told to leave, and that you will have your money refunded to you.

5. Stage 3 - continued slow play - bye bye. Nicely informed to leave - money refunded and beer bought for you on your way out.

 

The details may differ, but you get the picture.

 

My thought is that 5 or 10% of golfers will come and play thinking that these rules for participation are only a suggestion, and then be outraged when they are told to leave the course for breaking the rules of which they were duly informed.

 

My other thought is that my golf course will be packed to the gills with smiling golfers who realize how easy it is to play a four hour or less round, and know that they will never have to complain about a slow round at this course ever again.

 

Your thoughts?  Viable idea, or not?  Would you come play somewhere with this offer?

Edited by SBGolferMichael
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I’d give it a go

 

The ABSOLUTE worst part of public golf is pace of play

 

New, and seasoned, players seem to have no concept of what is happening around them nowadays … or no respect if you prefer that line

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I'd definitely recommend building in some margin, so if you're not on for 3hr 30min pace, then you get marched along. If you aim for four hour pace, you'll get a lot of people suddenly slow down on 18 and take 4 hours and 1 minute and claim their money back and beer. I think it has some potential, but the issue I see with it is you have chosen the carrot over the stick and the carrot is encouraging people to take longer. 

 

Better to say we aim for a four hour round - if you fall behind pace by more than say 3 minutes, you're out (no refund). If you are ahead of pace then you get a beer at the end (or a voucher for 20% off your next round or something like that). Stick to deal with the slowpokes and carrot to benefit the faster players.

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3 minutes ago, Ty_Webb said:

I'd definitely recommend building in some margin, so if you're not on for 3hr 30min pace, then you get marched along. If you aim for four hour pace, you'll get a lot of people suddenly slow down on 18 and take 4 hours and 1 minute and claim their money back and beer. I think it has some potential, but the issue I see with it is you have chosen the carrot over the stick and the carrot is encouraging people to take longer. 

 

Better to say we aim for a four hour round - if you fall behind pace by more than say 3 minutes, you're out (no refund). If you are ahead of pace then you get a beer at the end (or a voucher for 20% off your next round or something like that). Stick to deal with the slowpokes and carrot to benefit the faster players.

Love the suggestions! The details can be worked out, and I am more than willing to use the stick, because, frankly, if you are a slow poke, I don't give a s%^& if you want to play here - that is the whole point.  

 

Ty, I appreciate your input, and I hope you and Lacy are still happy.

 

 

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It's an interesting idea. But Ty Webb ^^ above basically nails it in that people i think would abuse this. It reminds me of the old archeological story where people were paying kids to help them dig up old artifacts and paying them by the item--So the kids would find stuff and then break them into smaller pieces for more money

 

An interesting idea might be charging by the minute. So the fee changes drastically depending on how quickly you finish. <3:30 is 40$ , <4:00 hours is 50$, anything over 4:00 is 80$....or something like that

 

The big risk would likely be fights/anger on the course if one group slows everyone down and they end up paying double. But if you have marshalls perhaps they would need to get involved here and force groups to allow faster groups through.

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Great idea, in theory.  Probably need to tweek a few things.  

 

1. As Ty said, you are gonna have people try to game the system to get a free round.

 

2.  Not sure how you are going to "enforce" non-compliers. 

 

Initially, I think a better approach is to market, encourage, and do the best you can to ensure fast play so that your course gets the reputation without locking yourselves into refunds, etc.

 

Everybody knows what causes slow play, it is just that 95% of the courses simply do nothing.  

 

You are on the right track about trying to set the expectation long before tee off. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Ty_Webb said:

I'd definitely recommend building in some margin, so if you're not on for 3hr 30min pace, then you get marched along. If you aim for four hour pace, you'll get a lot of people suddenly slow down on 18 and take 4 hours and 1 minute and claim their money back and beer. I think it has some potential, but the issue I see with it is you have chosen the carrot over the stick and the carrot is encouraging people to take longer. 

 

Better to say we aim for a four hour round - if you fall behind pace by more than say 3 minutes, you're out (no refund). If you are ahead of pace then you get a beer at the end (or a voucher for 20% off your next round or something like that). Stick to deal with the slowpokes and carrot to benefit the faster players.

 

I'm with you on your line of thinking. Also, being slowed up by others isn't the same thing as being the ones who are slow who are slowing up others. So, you're going to need controls in place that don't cause you to have to comp the rounds of 6 groups who were slowed up by one group, even if that one group gets tossed.

 

Another thing that's not fun is when you're playing at a good pace, but have people behind you who think you should be playing in 3 hours and not under 4. They're going to be unhappy with the pace, and you're going to be unhappy with their pace. When looking to provide satisfaction based on pace of play, that might be something you have to contend with.

 

What if you were to hold everyone's credit card til the end of the round, and you either gets charged the rate (for coming in in the desired window), less if you're held up, or MORE if you're [responsible for being] slow? 😉

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4 minutes ago, isaacbm said:

I would likely stay clear of a course like this. Sounds like lots of potential issues. Including angry customers because they will claim that the marshals weren’t doing a good enough job or the group in front of them was the problem or whatever.

I see potential violence being something you’d have to deal with on a regular basis.

You’d likely need a legal team… 

 

 

This is where you'd need to throw in the second teaser:

 

If you get beaten to within inches of your life by crazed patrons--you get a second free beer

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I like the idea.  People will try to game the system.  I wouldn’t give away free beer either.  If someone has been drinking on the course and gets in an accident your free beer will bankrupt you.  Here are my thoughts all based on 18 holes.  9 holes equals half the time.

 

1) develop an app that players download and keeps track of time.  If they are falling behind you send an alert.

2) if they come in within the 4 hours they get refunded 25% of their green fee. Or they can take 50% off their restaurant/bar tab.

3) if a player fails to complete 3 rounds in a row under the 4 hours, they will be escorted by a marshal who will have the right to tell them to end a hole without finishing out and can be removed from the course.

4) if a group of 2 or more finishes under 3 hours 15 minutes, they get an incentive like free golf shirt, 1 month of free range balls or 1/2 price rounds for a month. 

 

Also so where is this course located?  

Edited by NJBigFish22
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I would love for my local courses to use this to help improve play. Maybe even doing it for a period of time as a trial and as part of the refund (or partial discount next time ect) they have to fill out a short few question survey on why it took longer than 4 hours and their suggestion to improve it. I can play my course walking in under 3 hours by myself and my foursome if we’re first out can play in just over 3 all walking. I think 4 in the afternoon on a Saturday would be a dram to sleep in and get a quicker round in. 

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One of the courses in my area tried it about 5 years ago and it lasted for a couple months.  Part of the deal was you agreed that if you fell behind pace you'd skip holes to catch up or you'd be asked to leave.  The problem is it only takes one group to be over 4 hours and then every group behind them is playing for free.  

 

I personally would rather promote fast play as opposed to rewarding slow play because if you're at 3:55 putting on 18 what's stopping you from lining up your putt for an extra minute or two in order to get your round free?  Usually you can see what the pace of play is going to be after nine holes so I think you'd be better off saying that if you make the turn in two hours or less stop in between nines and each person in your group will receive a free drink coupon for after the round.  1-gets customers in your clubhouse between nines 2-It rewards fast play.

Edited by PhlashPhace
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36 minutes ago, The Pearl said:

Great idea, in theory.  Probably need to tweek a few things.  

 

1. As Ty said, you are gonna have people try to game the system to get a free round.

 

2.  Not sure how you are going to "enforce" non-compliers. 

 

Initially, I think a better approach is to market, encourage, and do the best you can to ensure fast play so that your course gets the reputation without locking yourselves into refunds, etc.

 

Everybody knows what causes slow play, it is just that 95% of the courses simply do nothing.  

 

You are on the right track about trying to set the expectation long before tee off. 

 

OP here: Love the additional ideas, keep them coming!  Regarding people who try to game the system to get a free round: What about this, every time a person is given a refund, that refund is logged into the computer. After two refunds, the guarantee shifts to 4:15 minutes.  I have not delved too deeply into the details of the systems, because I know you all will do the heavy lifting with your great ideas.

 

Maybe I have 6 or 8 marshals, making it infinitely easier to keep everyone on track.  Marshals are easy to find; paid with free golf that costs me nothing.

 

Maybe we just have a public flogging of the slowest players once per week; sell half price beers to the cheering crowd! 

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9 minutes ago, NJBigFish22 said:

I like the idea.  People will try to game the system.  I wouldn’t give away free beer either.  If someone has been drinking on the course and gets in an accident your free beer will bankrupt you.  Here are my thoughts all based on 18 holes.  9 holes equals half the time.

 

1) develop an app that players download and keeps track of time.  If they are falling behind you send an alert.

2) if they come in within the 4 hours they get refunded 25% of their green fee. Or they can take 50% off their restaurant/bar tab.

3) if a player fails to complete 3 rounds in a row under the 4 hours, they will be escorted by a marshal who will have the right to tell them to end a hole without finishing out and can be removed from the course.

4) if a group of 2 or more finishes under 3 hours 15 minutes, they get an incentive like free golf shirt, 1 month of free range balls or 1/2 price rounds for a month. 

 

Also so where is this course located?  

Love all those ideas! And the free beers idea is now off the table for the reason you mentioned. That was me just trying to be friendly, not a good idea.  California course.

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10 minutes ago, Abh159 said:

Playing in 3 hours 50 mins = me paying a green fee

 

Playing in 4 hours 10 mins = me playing golf for free and getting a free beer

 

Why would I play faster?

 

I get what you’re trying to do and it’s addressing a bad problem (slow play) in golf today. However, in all my experience over the years when you offer someone something for free they are going to take advantage of it. I could easily see this backfiring quickly to the point where you have to get rid of the policy all together because everyone is just trying to game the system and get a free round of golf out of it. 

I understand your thinking.  What if we are simply rigorous about sending slow players home with a refund, never to be allowed to return. And PUBLISH that policy along with our average round times for the last month? I like the app idea of another member here the best so far, yet creating that app would not be cheap! I love the noodling we are doing here!

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Great idea in theory. Implementation will be a nightmare if the course is at all busy.

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2 hours ago, cardoustie said:

I’d give it a go

 

The ABSOLUTE worst part of public golf is pace of play

 

New, and seasoned, players seem to have no concept of what is happening around them nowadays … or no respect if you prefer that line

 You mean it's not the elephants dragging their feet on the greens? Or the blaring music? LOL

 

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31 minutes ago, mci711 said:

Shouldn't fast play be rewarded? You play in under 4 hours the first round of beers is on the house, 3:45 round is free. etc. I feel like the idea is flipped currently and the wrong people are getting the benefit. 

I like that idea, but I think round being free is too much for the course to risk. I could see guys calling it a day after 16 or 17 just for their money back. Maybe something like sub 4 free beer, sub 3:45 beer and a sandwich/hot dog. Just enough motivation to get guys moving.

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How is the course laid out? Is there a lot of water and rough? Is it long, with a lot of bunkers? Are the greens fast and undulating? All those are factors that slow play down. I just figure that if I play during the week, I'll play fast. Play on the weekend, I'll play slower. I really don't like having marshals coming around all the time, either.

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There would literally be fights in the fairways with players blaming players in front that they're not going to get their free round.

 

And i hope the marshals resemble heavyweight boxers because the garbage they would get from groups would be unbelievable, a marshal going over to a group of 4 and saying sorry guys pick up your balls and move to the next Tee, yeah right

 

Nice idea in a perfect world, daft idea in the real world

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11 minutes ago, Superbrit said:

There would literally be fights in the fairways with players blaming players in front that they're not going to get their free round.

 

And i hope the marshals resemble heavyweight boxers because the garbage they would get from groups would be unbelievable, a marshal going over to a group of 4 and saying sorry guys pick up your balls and move to the next Tee, yeah right

 

Nice idea in a perfect world, daft idea in the real world

 

Exactly. 

 

Course would be completely full of players planning on 4+ and a free round. 

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43 minutes ago, VNutz said:

I like that idea, but I think round being free is too much for the course to risk. I could see guys calling it a day after 16 or 17 just for their money back. Maybe something like sub 4 free beer, sub 3:45 beer and a sandwich/hot dog. Just enough motivation to get guys moving.

Definitely! Op seems to want to give out free golf though. A little incentive to play quicker will go a long way. I'd take a hotdog for playing quick. 

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I don't know what the solution is, but something needs to be done. Personally, I would pay a bit more to play a course that prides itself on maintaining a quick pace of play. There are courses in my area that I refuse to play at any time or price because the pace is consistently awful. I don't think the slow players should be rewarded with anything free.

 

Maybe a solution is to just enforce that play for the first hour of tee times each day is expected to be in less than 4 hours, communicate that clearly and multiple times when those tee times are booked, price those times a little higher. If you are the first group of the day to exceed 4 hours with one of those tee times, you lose your right to book those early times. The unwritten rule at many courses is that the early groups are expected to be fast, and many fast players gravitate towards those times already. This just makes it official. Those times will continue to attract fast players willing to pay a premium to ensure a fast round...and I think those are the types of repeat customers you would want.

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We had a course here that for the first couple of years they were open had and enforced a strict pace of play policy. If you were behind at the turn they kicked you off and gave you a rain check or refund for 9 holes IIRC.

 

Pace of play was fabulous at what was at the time a pretty difficult track. They changed management at the course and the policy ended. 😞

 

I think you need a combination of carrot and stick for this to work. For players that finish faster than the required pace give them a discount on their next round. For players that are behind after 9 holes, kick them off with a raincheck / refund.

 

The caveat for the slow groups is that you can only really do this for the first group that is slow. Everyone behind them is a victim of slow play so you marshalls need to know what they are doing.

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2 hours ago, mci711 said:

Shouldn't fast play be rewarded? You play in under 4 hours the first round of beers is on the house, 3:45 round is free. etc. I feel like the idea is flipped currently and the wrong people are getting the benefit. 

 

Charge by the hour. Say the first hour is $10, and between one and two is $20, etc. I don't know how to implement that plan, however. 😉

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