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

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4 hours ago, David in FL said:

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.

Sounds like pre-MED....lol.

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2 hours ago, phillyk said:

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.

 

That may be true, but there are discounts. A few weeks back I golfed a course for $20 per person (18 holes w/ cart) with because of Groupon.   Every year I get multiple discounts through GroupGolfer.

2 hours ago, phillyk said:

I'vve 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.

 

As @iacas said there are incremental costs.  We understand it does not cost twice as much to maintain the course just because there were 200 rounds compared to 100 rounds, but the cost does go up.  Also, it is not just 1 divot by 1 player.  The OP suggested offering the College discount would encourage many more to play, not just a single golfer.

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21 minutes ago, StuM said:

As @iacas said there are incremental costs.  We understand it does not cost twice as much to maintain the course just because there were 200 rounds compared to 100 rounds, but the cost does go up.  Also, it is not just 1 divot by 1 player.  The OP suggested offering the College discount would encourage many more to play, not just a single golfer.

I get the base cost versus incremental cost. But, realistically, a maintenance budget is staying roughly the same no matter the increase in play (depends on ownership).  This year for example, my course is getting the most play it has for several years.  What we are budgeting for maintenance is still the same as those previous years. Revenues go up, costs stayed the same.  In effect, the cost to a player for maintenance goes down the more golfers we get.

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14 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I get the base cost versus incremental cost. But, realistically, a maintenance budget is staying roughly the same no matter the increase in play (depends on ownership).  This year for example, my course is getting the most play it has for several years.  What we are budgeting for maintenance is still the same as those previous years. Revenues go up, costs stayed the same.  In effect, the cost to a player for maintenance goes down the more golfers we get.

I am not involved in course management so will defer to you.

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There was a protest at my course by some pink-haired ladies and white belt-wearing guys... they wanted the course to offer a special rate for them.  Do we see where this is ultimately headed?  Yes, being a college student implies lack of cash... or does it, according to several posts above?  Maybe better would be to show proof you are funding your own college costs and your parents are not helping out.  I had to do that when I was applying for grants, college loans and scholarships.

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58 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I get the base cost versus incremental cost. But, realistically, a maintenance budget is staying roughly the same no matter the increase in play (depends on ownership).  This year for example, my course is getting the most play it has for several years.  What we are budgeting for maintenance is still the same as those previous years. Revenues go up, costs stayed the same.  In effect, the cost to a player for maintenance goes down the more golfers we get.

And to your point, course operators do well when revenue is on the rise, but many are not so financially adept when play goes down. 

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1 hour ago, phillyk said:

I get the base cost versus incremental cost. But, realistically, a maintenance budget is staying roughly the same no matter the increase in play (depends on ownership).  This year for example, my course is getting the most play it has for several years.  What we are budgeting for maintenance is still the same as those previous years. Revenues go up, costs stayed the same.  In effect, the cost to a player for maintenance goes down the more golfers we get.

If your budget stayed the same, then the course was in worse shape this year.

(There were other things this year, too - bunkers were often unmaintained this year, etc. I'm talking about had it been a normal year.)

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12 minutes ago, iacas said:

If your budget stayed the same, then the course was in worse shape this year.

(There were other things this year, too - bunkers were often unmaintained this year, etc. I'm talking about had it been a normal year.)

I gotta side with Erik on this one.  More play, especially at the levels so many courses reported will equate to more maintenance. Then add in other factors such as higher temps this year, even more maintenance.

Our course had a historic high in rounds played.  The Super in his newsletter to the membership explained how that added more work for the grounds crew to keep the course at it's standard of play.  

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19 hours ago, iacas said:

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.

I don't claim to be an expert in the golf industry and stuff like that. This is just a perspective that I've developed, did a little bit of research, using intuition, and came to a conclusion. I also wanted to find a place where I could talk about it (besides the real world of course) and gain some insight into strengthening the perspective.

Right off the bat, at no point am I advocating for rates based on personal background (involving race, gender, ethnicity, etc.). I believe in making the game of golf more inclusive and accessible than the previous years. The First Tee of Silicon Valley, Northern California Golf Association's Youth on Course program, and Special Olympics of Northern California are perfect examples of such efforts.

In regards to college rates, the latent demand for golf is pretty high. According to a survey conducted by NGF in 2016 (see page 5 of PDF), the interest rate for 18-29 year olds is the second highest coming in at 25.3%. Those that have incomes lower than $30K make up the highest of with 22.9%.

https://cdn.cybergolf.com/images/1867/2016-Golf-Participation-in-the-US.pdf

What's preventing them from coming out to play could be a variety of reasons. The price, duration, lack of presence around the area, etc. It's best to spread the game of golf the non-traditional way. Entertainment Venues such as Topgolf have also fed the latent demand group because non-golfers won't feel daunted picking up a golf club and swinging a ball. In fact, it's reported that those who tried out Topgolf have expressed interest in traditional golf than those who haven't tried it.


Latent demand is a measure of "non-golfers" who say they're interested in playing golf. But how many have some previous...

Public Golf Courses has seen a rise of beginners (regardless of age and gender) partly because it's one of the fewest sporting activities anyone can do at the moment. If the golf industry and its golf courses plan to sustain the financial success post-COVID, they must find ways to keep them and also to ensure that they don't regularly spend their dollars on other sporting options and entertainment options. College rates and membership packages tailored towards their needs is one part of a process of growing the game.

Although college rates may look like a drag in revenue, it doesn't benefit the golf course but this may not be such a bad thing at the moment. I've called the head pro of Santa Teresa Golf Club because it's the only course in my county that offered student rates and, also, I wanted to get a percentage of college golfers that played on the course year-round. He told me that college students is the smallest demographic (smaller than the juniors). He also told me that they don't have any plans to market this rate to the masses. This suggests that even if you display a rate for a specific group on your website, this doesn't mean that college students will "pack the course" and you're probably not going to get a ton of them coming out anyways. To be fair, there aren't a lot of Student Orgs the are Golf Clubs around the county so that could be an explanation for why there aren't a lot of college students coming out to play.

So I think if golf courses want to generate more revenue through college students and the population from the latent demand, it's about how we can get them to become more committed. College students are typically available to play in weekday late afternoons and evening and all day on the weekends. Why not offer a student rates/membership that's only applicable for the twilight rates, for example?

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10 minutes ago, djake said:

I gotta side with Erik on this one.  More play, especially at the levels so many courses reported will equate to more maintenance. Then add in other factors such as higher temps this year, even more maintenance.

Our course had a historic high in rounds played.  The Super in his newsletter to the membership explained how that added more work for the grounds crew to keep the course at it's standard of play.  

I’m playing with my super right now. Budget went up 15k from last year. Rounds are up around 5000 from last year. So wasn’t the same like I was told but its still low compared to rounds played. Even he said that the budget is unlikely to change much for increasing rounds played. Some tee boxes may need more work but it doesn’t really change the total. But considering the ownership, we do get told no to many things  

Ok, yes, it would be great if an increase in rounds meant maintenance sees a good portion of extra funding but it doesn’t happen in many cases. 

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7 hours ago, David in FL said:

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.

Geography.

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25 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I’m playing with my super right now. Budget went up 15k from last year. Rounds are up around 5000 from last year. So wasn’t the same like I was told but its still low compared to rounds played. Even he said that the budget is unlikely to change much for increasing rounds played. Some tee boxes may need more work but it doesn’t really change the total. But considering the ownership, we do get told no to many things  

Ok, yes, it would be great if an increase in rounds meant maintenance sees a good portion of extra funding but it doesn’t happen in many cases. 

Not trying to argue with you, ok 🙂 

I see you are in Washington, your weather also helps out.  In Minnesota we not only had a historic high in rounds at our Club this season by over 20+% we also had some tough hot weather that added into more labor costs.

A lot more rounds, more rolling the greens to maintain that near perfect roll our course is noted for.  Also the greens had to be pinned more frequently for health.  Trap maintenance was up, approach areas needed more care, the fairways needed more care and the tee boxes needed more care.  

I found it amazing how our Super and staff kept the course in such fantastic shape this season.

No two ways about it, if the course has significantly more play you will either pay more during the season to keep it at the quality level that is expected or the it will dive.  It's grass, it can only take so much beating without proper care or it just collapses. 

I played courses around the country this year, the public courses took a beating on the greens and the approaches.  One course in California in particular they people that I played with were constantly apologizing for the greens, they were just pounded from approach shots.  The rule of the day was, fix your divot and fix 10 others.  

Granted, each course will be different and local conditions have a strong effect.

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1 hour ago, golfindude1 said:

In regards to college rates, the latent demand for golf is pretty high. According to a survey conducted by NGF in 2016 (see page 5 of PDF), the interest rate for 18-29 year olds is the second highest coming in at 25.3%. Those that have incomes lower than $30K make up the highest of with 22.9%.

That doesn't mean that courses should offer you a discount. Again, especially if they're selling their tee times during the times college students are most likely to play, that'd be a bad business decision.

1 hour ago, golfindude1 said:

What's preventing them from coming out to play could be a variety of reasons. The price, duration, lack of presence around the area, etc. It's best to spread the game of golf the non-traditional way. Entertainment Venues such as Topgolf have also fed the latent demand group because non-golfers won't feel daunted picking up a golf club and swinging a ball. In fact, it's reported that those who tried out Topgolf have expressed interest in traditional golf than those who haven't tried it.

This isn't addressing the topic.

1 hour ago, golfindude1 said:

College rates and membership packages tailored towards their needs is one part of a process of growing the game.

Just saying it's so doesn't make it so.

1 hour ago, golfindude1 said:

This suggests that even if you display a rate for a specific group on your website, this doesn't mean that college students will "pack the course" and you're probably not going to get a ton of them coming out anyways.

So, as has been asked… why bother?

1 hour ago, phillyk said:

I’m playing with my super right now. Budget went up 15k from last year.

I'm also not trying to argue, because this year was weird all around - many places didn't change holes as often, didn't maintain bunkers nearly as often, etc. Some of those practices resulted in savings, even if those savings were then spent (plus $15k) in other areas.

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4 hours ago, phillyk said:

I’m playing with my super right now. Budget went up 15k from last year. Rounds are up around 5000 from last year. So wasn’t the same like I was told but its still low compared to rounds played. Even he said that the budget is unlikely to change much for increasing rounds played. Some tee boxes may need more work but it doesn’t really change the total. But considering the ownership, we do get told no to many things  

Ok, yes, it would be great if an increase in rounds meant maintenance sees a good portion of extra funding but it doesn’t happen in many cases. 

I am a little confused,  you say costs are up from last year, then say some teed needed more work but that does not change total. If the maintenance crew is paid hourly then more work = higher cost.  You also said some work was denied (“told no to many things”) and the cost still went up.

just because the additional revenue was not spent on maintenance does not mean more maintenance was not required.  
 

I have never worked at a course and will not claim expertise but I am not convinced that cost is not impacted by rounds played.  I retract my deferral.

Edited by StuM
Corrects typos

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5 hours ago, golfindude1 said:

College students are typically available to play in weekday late afternoons and evening and all day on the weekends. Why not offer a student rates/membership that's only applicable for the twilight rates, for example?

Twilight are already discounted rates, and weekends are the most in demand. From a business perspective, it makes little sense to further discount a discounted rate and no sense to discount high demand tee times.

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“Entitlement”... we see it everyday at work with the College age people now.  I won’t even get into it, most of it has been said earlier on page 1 by Chetlovesmer, Iacas and a few others.  
 

It’s sad.

Edited by Typhoon92

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On 11/19/2020 at 7:59 PM, golfindude1 said:

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.

Using your same simple logic - if you cannot afford to pay for golf, then don’t play. Plain and simple. We all have to make sacrifices once in a while.

Why expect golf courses (or anyone) to give you a handout so you can do something that you cannot afford to do? Why should they? Finish school, get a job and when you are that 40-something, you can afford to pay for your own rounds like everyone else.

I am that 40-something. I play golf because I can afford it with time and money. My housekeeper doesn’t play golf because she cannot afford either. That’s life. The last time I heard someone said “this is not fair” was when my 12 yo nephew didn’t get to have chocolate ice-cream because all we had was vanilla.  I told him to grow up and buy his own icecream. 

 

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