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Why Don't Most Public Golf Courses Offer College Rates?


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Good points raised here by many.

On one hand, I do think there is a lack of creativity in how the golfing community prices their product. It's probably a topic for an entirely separate thread, but I don't see any reason that courses couldn't offer a "same day" college discount for last minute unused times. 

While college students don't fit the demographic targets that @jamo outlined above, they do tend to have more spontaneous flexibility with their schedules than just about anyone else. A course that doesn't want to give away discounted tee times that would otherwise be booked by customers paying the full rack rate, could easily solve the problem by only discounting times for college students that are in jeopardy of going unused.

On the other hand, I suspect there is a stereotype that college students are not desirable customers. Perhaps they are less likely to take proper care of the course, fix their divots, ball marks, etc. They will probably try to sneak a few beers onto the course, but they are certainly less likely to bolster the course's margins by buying food and beverage from the restaurant. When the head pro said "why would I want to cater to you guys?" maybe he meant "why would I encourage customers that are most likely to cause me problems to come to my business by charging them less?" 

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I'm sympathetic to the idea that it would be nice if the people who could less easily afford golf could be given a discounted rate, but you should ask yourself who golf courses generally give discount

There are many many things in the world that are "unfair" in just this way.  If you don't have enough money, you can't have dinner at the French Laundry, you can't purchase a penthouse in Manhattan, y

One more thing. Is it also "unfair" that 40-year-olds have to pay a mortgage payment, save money for their kids to go to college and/or their own retirement? Is it "unfair" that a 40-year-ol

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15 minutes ago, Big C said:

On one hand, I do think there is a lack of creativity in how the golfing community prices their product. It's probably a topic for an entirely separate thread, but I don't see any reason that courses couldn't offer a "same day" college discount for last minute unused times.

Sounds like a great way to train people to wait until the last minute. 🙂

15 minutes ago, Big C said:

While college students don't fit the demographic targets that @jamo outlined above, they do tend to have more spontaneous flexibility with their schedules than just about anyone else. A course that doesn't want to give away discounted tee times that would otherwise be booked by customers paying the full rack rate, could easily solve the problem by only discounting times for college students that are in jeopardy of going unused.

Do college people often have four hours of spontaneous time? On a weekday?

I think it's just not worth the hassle. What if there are two open tee times, and five college students show up? Someone's gonna be pissed. What if a full-price paying customer calls 30 minutes before the open tee time - and there are four college kids waiting to get out? Etc. It's all just a hassle, for what - a few dollar discount?

15 minutes ago, Big C said:

When the head pro said "why would I want to cater to you guys?" maybe he meant "why would I encourage customers that are most likely to cause me problems to come to my business by charging them less?" 

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3 hours ago, djake said:

Or if they actually need too.  If a course is booked solid why in the world do they need to lower their prices to anyone?

 

^^^^^^I’m going echo what nearly everyone else has said, not to bring any new information to the table, but to reiterate the point for the OP that (for the time being) we thankfully live in a capitalist nation and golf courses are businesses. To Iacas’s point, it’s simple economics, they’d offer the discounts if it suited them. No need to speculate further. 

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5 minutes ago, woodzie264 said:

To Iacas’s point, it’s simple economics, they’d offer the discounts if it suited them. No need to speculate further. 

Well, they would if they're a really well-run business or at least are operating somewhat near optimally. That's an assumption I'm not willing to make, but that doesn't mean they're absolutely wrong, either. It just means we can't be 100% certain they're right.

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11 minutes ago, iacas said:

Well, they would if they're a really well-run business or at least are operating somewhat near optimally. That's an assumption I'm not willing to make, but that doesn't mean they're absolutely wrong, either. It just means we can't be 100% certain they're right.

You’re right, I’m assuming they know what’s best for their own businesses in their own respective communities. 

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A couple of points that I don't think have been made:

1.  'Dynamic pricing' is a better way to manage tee times than one off discounts to college students (or lefties, or blondes, or socialists, or whomever).  Not sure how I feel about dynamic pricing for tee times, but it appears to be a coming thing, and will probably trickle down and out from the niches where it's already been adopted (not to hijack the thread).

2.  College kids can't, by and large, legally drink and are pretty notorious for not running up big tabs in the pro shop, restaurants and other income streams that a privately operated course depends on to make its budget.  By contrast, seniors may buy equipment off the internet and fish balls out of the water hazards, but they do hang out for lunch and beers, and frequently staff the men's association and the ladies group, etc. which organize the tournaments (another revenue stream), and so on.

3.  For whatever reason, discounts for juniors, active duty military, teachers and first responders generate a warm and fuzzy feeling of positivity for the facility in a way that discounts for college kids don't.

 

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Good evening everyone,

Overall, I think it's fair to say that COVID isn't the right time to discuss for any discounts due to the golf courses getting packed every single day. I think it would best to attempt proposing it when COVID is completely over. I want to get to all of your comments and have been following this thread closely, but I'll respond to the first parts of this thread.

13 hours ago, iacas said:

Have you taken an economics class yet?

Why should the course willingly offer a discount if they’re selling their tee times?

I hid the post with the PDF, too, as I doubt the book is in the public domain/free.

No I haven't and I don't plan to because my major doesn't necessarily require it.

13 hours ago, Sandy Divot said:

Around here, the public courses are packed every day. Every day is like a weekend day. I would guess they don't offer college discounts is because they don't have to. Where you go to school, do many other places offer college discounts? I don't remember getting any discounts because I was a college student. I would recommend that your college start some sort of sponsorship deal with the local course. Offer free, or greatly discounted advertising in game programs in exchange for a student rate. The course will only offer a reduced rate if they see a benefit.

There's only one golf course in my county that offers the student rate: Santa Teresa Golf Club offers a $19 student green fee available starting the weekday afternoons (including Friday). This is definitely an opportunity to take advantage of, but if there is a coalition that's advocating for the inclusion of college students, I will absolutely get behind it. In regards to colleges starting a sponsorship deal with the local course, that sounds awesome I'll see if I can find the right people to talk to of course.

13 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Part of the flaw in your argument is the word "household". I know lots of college kids and even more high school kids who play golf. A few of them play almost daily. As a rule their folks pay for their golf. My neighbor, a gentleman with whom I play golf most often, has 4 kids. Their ages range from 13 to 24. They all play golf. They all play often. My neighbor and his wife, of course, pay for it. 

I know that doesn't help you. I'm probably telling you something you already know. That people who have more money have access to more stuff, including golf. So, as my folks used to say to me all the time "Work hard in school. Get a good job, and you'll have more opportunities." 

In the meantime you could:
1 - Look for a cheap muni. The town my college was located in had one. Many college towns do; They are often 9 holes. It may not be Pinehurst, but it's golf. 

2 - Consider getting a part time job at a golf course. Sometimes those come with either deep discounts or free golf.

3 - Get a golf scholarship --- Okay, easier said than done. 

4 - Look for a course that DOES have a special rate certain times of the day. There's one out here that has really reasonable rates for times when most people aren't interested in playing. As a college student, you may have a more flexible schedule than most golfers. 

5 - Or lastly, you could do what I did... Not start playing golf until I got my first job out of college. 

Good luck, hang in there. 

I was hoping I could play the green fee at least once a week. Obviously, I'm not going to practice every single day. 

The golf course I proposed to offers one of the cheapest rates in the county. I know I'm not going to regularly play Pebble Beach or anything like that. Super Twilight Golf is actually pretty good because that's the time when things aren't as busy compared to playing on Saturday Afternoon.

College Students have a ton of other options for part time jobs and I don't see how it benefits me compared to joining clubs that are focused on my major. Sure, some of the skills from seemingly unrelated fields can be applicable for life, but I don't see it. So thanks, but I'll pass on that opportunity.

As in an NCAA/NAIA scholarship? I'm not good enough to play and because of my age I'm way too old for that and besides only 7% of high school golfers go onto play intercollegiate golf.

13 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

One more thing.

Is it also "unfair" that 40-year-olds have to pay a mortgage payment, save money for their kids to go to college and/or their own retirement?

Is it "unfair" that a 40-year-old will have to provide food, clothing, housing, vehicles, insurance, utilities, etc... for their families?

Is it "unfair" that if a college student hits a bump in the financial road he/she can move back in with his/her folks, but a 40-year-old needs to maintain a financial cushion and/or savings to keep his/her family off the streets? 

Is it "unfair" that many 40-year-olds make sacrifices (both financial and other sacrifices) far greater than giving up golf to provide for their families? 

Is it "unfair" that many 40-year-olds are really hurting financially right now thanks to a world wide pandemic. Is it "unfair" that they lose sleep every night worrying about how they are going to provide for their families? 

Okay, I realize that I'm a little off the rails here. I'm just suggesting that you consider things deeply before you throw around words like "unfair". I would also argue that the 40-year-old and the college student each have the same "opportunities" to make money. They've just chosen to "invest" their time, talent, and treasures in different ways. (But that's probably a deeper discussion for another day.)

I really like @DaveP043's comment. 

Off the rails is right. I fail to see how some of these questions have anything to do with being against the idea of college rates. All I can simply say is, If you don't want that burden of supporting the family on you, don't have kids (and don't marry a wife). Plain and simple. We all have to make sacrifices once in a while.

If they're worried about how their going to provide for the families, then why is the golf industry doing so well? If that's what they have to deal with, then it's on them to figure it out.

College students are transitioning into adults. If you were to put them in the same position as what you're describing here, I'm willing to bet that the pressure would be too much to handle.

You're misunderstanding my point my dude. I'm not saying that they have the same opportunities to make money, but the options for those opportunities between both groups have are drastically different. Most golfers are those with college degrees and college degrees are the key to earning more money. What are the chances that a current college student (pursuing a degree) would have a chance to work as a full-time software engineering job compared to a 40-year old that has a software engineering degree? I'll wait...

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5 minutes ago, golfindude1 said:

No I haven't and I don't plan to because my major doesn't necessarily require it.

You didn't answer my other question: Why should the course willingly offer a discount if they’re selling their tee times?

In other words, and like @woodzie264 was getting at… you're almost assuming that you understand their business better than they do, and that's unlikely to be true.

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4 hours ago, iacas said:

Do college people often have four hours of spontaneous time? On a weekday?

Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask.

I recall spending countless afternoon hours playing no limit texas hold 'em and/or Madden Football with my dormmates during freshman and sophomore years. Basically all it took was someone to broach the subject of a card game and all of my other plans (especially studying) would take a back seat. 

In retrospect, maybe I should have taken up golf instead. Even without a college discount, I probably would have saved myself a lot of money!

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As many said above, life is not fair BUT there are many options as mentioned in multiple posts above ranging from twilight golf to work at a course.  Also do not forget to be on the lookout for discounts.  I do not want to advertise on TST but you can look at GroupGolfer.com and Groupon for many special offers.  True, they are available to all but they will help defray the cost.  You may not be able to play the elite courses on the cheap but you can play.

You also need to consider the economics or running a course. The more rounds played the more maintenance is required.  If they discount too much they may not be able to pay for the appropriate maintenance and the course will suffer in the long run.

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11 minutes ago, StuM said:

You also need to consider the economics or running a course. The more rounds played the more maintenance is required.  If they discount too much they may not be able to pay for the appropriate maintenance and the course will suffer in the long run.

People often overlook this part, especially if they walk. They’ll say “it’s a free $x, because otherwise the tee time goes unused.” Even if they take into account the gas if they take a cart, there’s wear and tear on the cart, on the course, it affects pace of play, etc.

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11 hours ago, golfindude1 said:

College Students have a ton of other options for part time jobs and I don't see how it benefits me compared to joining clubs that are focused on my major. Sure, some of the skills from seemingly unrelated fields can be applicable for life, but I don't see it. So thanks, but I'll pass on that opportunity.

It would benefit your golf game and your financial situation because if you worked at a golf course, you most likely wouldnt have to pay for golf or driving range balls. Pretty much every public course that I know of lets the workers play for free at least one day a week when they arent working, if not every day.

So you could earn some extra spending money and save on greens fees. That's a win-win IMO.

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8 hours ago, Big C said:

Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask.

I recall spending countless afternoon hours playing no limit texas hold 'em and/or Madden Football with my dormmates during freshman and sophomore years. Basically all it took was someone to broach the subject of a card game and all of my other plans (especially studying) would take a back seat. 

In retrospect, maybe I should have taken up golf instead. Even without a college discount, I probably would have saved myself a lot of money!

Must be older than you. We played Tecmo Bowl at Bowling Green.

Had it occurred to me to play golf at that age, I probably could have managed a round a day finances permitting. My beloved alma matter wasn't the most rigorous of schools.

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11 hours ago, golfindude1 said:

 

No I haven't and I don't plan to because my major doesn't necessarily require it.

 

I’m curious.  What is your major?

The reason I ask is that most of the comments against what you are proposing are financial/business related.  If economics isn’t required for your major, you’re obviously not a business major and don’t quite comprehend the driving force of those principles in the marketplace.

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1 hour ago, StuM said:

You also need to consider the economics or running a course. The more rounds played the more maintenance is required.  If they discount too much they may not be able to pay for the appropriate maintenance and the course will suffer in the long run.

would not have considered that myself

1 hour ago, iacas said:

People often overlook this part, especially if they walk. They’ll say “it’s a free $x, because otherwise the tee time goes unused.” Even if they take into account the gas if they take a cart, there’s wear and tear on the cart, on the course, it affects pace of play, etc.

^^^^^^ that's me

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What about the 40 year olds that are working paycheck to paycheck because they couldn't go to school and have the college experience, got laid off in their chosen field, or (fill in the blank)? What about the kid that did the 18 month welding program at the local community college coming out making 65K at 19 who just walked into the local fitter and got set up royally? Like you said, life is dictated by your choices, your circumstances, and some luck that you live a first world life. No one really owes you anything, but we really do have the ability to make free choices to make things happen for us. 

I actually see this as Golf Industry opportunity to grow the game rather than a local operator economic today issue (it will affect them eventually). The Industry needs to have all younger golfers, regardless of educational, economic, racial, gender, etc. in the pipeline to become the next generation of golf spenders that will take up the prime tee times and spend money in the proshop and restaurants. To some extent this is done with twilight rates, special 9 hole leagues, junior golf, etc. Over the years we predicted the "graying" of America and with it the closing of courses that were built to take advantage or the Baby Boomers that aged out of golf that were not replaced at the same rate. Gen X had different plans and the industry responded with Economics 101, supply and demand. That's an over simplification but you get the picture but we do need facilities that allow for the growth of this game we love. 

The other day, I played after 3 pm on a weekday to finish a round I got caught short on the day before. I was amazed on how many young and new golfers that I did see. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and I would say that many were developing golfers. So while it wasn't limited to college students, it definitely had a younger feel. There are ways to get out there, you just have to be creative. 

Now about playing Pebble Beach.....

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3 hours ago, StuM said:

As many said above, life is not fair BUT there are many options as mentioned in multiple posts above ranging from twilight golf to work at a course.  Also do not forget to be on the lookout for discounts.  I do not want to advertise on TST but you can look at GroupGolfer.com and Groupon for many special offers.  True, they are available to all but they will help defray the cost.  You may not be able to play the elite courses on the cheap but you can play.

Groupon demands 50% off from courses to join.  That's hard to do for many courses.  Even group rates, courses have their limits to discounting.

3 hours ago, StuM said:

You also need to consider the economics or running a course. The more rounds played the more maintenance is required.  If they discount too much they may not be able to pay for the appropriate maintenance and the course will suffer in the long run.

 

3 hours ago, iacas said:

People often overlook this part, especially if they walk. They’ll say “it’s a free $x, because otherwise the tee time goes unused.” Even if they take into account the gas if they take a cart, there’s wear and tear on the cart, on the course, it affects pace of play, etc.

I've never really liked the idea of one person needing $x green fees for wear and tear or labor. We are not maintaining for each individual.  We maintain as the course/cart requires (or more depending on course type/owner).  There is no free, as far as a person not making any damage, but there also isn't a set cost to repair it.  You wouldn't send a guy out to replace divots for 1 person golfing, but you would for 100. Would 101 golfing change that cost? A very small amount.  But once again, it's the big picture of overall maintenance, not the day to day routine things.

1 hour ago, TourSpoon said:

I actually see this as Golf Industry opportunity to grow the game rather than a local operator economic today issue (it will affect them eventually). The Industry needs to have all younger golfers, regardless of educational, economic, racial, gender, etc. in the pipeline to become the next generation of golf spenders that will take up the prime tee times and spend money in the proshop and restaurants. To some extent this is done with twilight rates, special 9 hole leagues, junior golf, etc. Over the years we predicted the "graying" of America and with it the closing of courses that were built to take advantage or the Baby Boomers that aged out of golf that were not replaced at the same rate. Gen X had different plans and the industry responded with Economics 101, supply and demand. That's an over simplification but you get the picture but we do need facilities that allow for the growth of this game we love. 

When targeting junior golfers, the industry sees that junior ending at age 18. There isn't much on differentiating young adults and college students.  Based on data, the untapped populations of golfers are juniors and women.  Honestly, for young adults, I see places like TopGolf being popular.  It's a fun and very social way of being introduced to the game.  Need more of them to pop up.

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59 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I've never really liked the idea of one person needing $x green fees for wear and tear or labor. We are not maintaining for each individual.  We maintain as the course/cart requires (or more depending on course type/owner).  There is no free, as far as a person not making any damage, but there also isn't a set cost to repair it.  You wouldn't send a guy out to replace divots for 1 person golfing, but you would for 100. Would 101 golfing change that cost? A very small amount.  But once again, it's the big picture of overall maintenance, not the day to day routine things.

Nobody said that.

There's a base cost, and then an incremental cost for each person. It's like manufacturing: the first player (i.e. base playing conditions) costs a lot, like the mold costs a lot to develop, but then there are added costs for each additional product you produce.

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