Golf club brings in 15 minute green fees
An American golf club has introduced pay-as-you-play green fees in a bid to both tackle slow play and give golfers more value for money.
Under the policy golfers pay for the first hour and then for every 15 minutes of golf they play.
It is thought to be the first golf club in the world to do this and, if successful, it could become a major trend over the next few years.
Lake of the Ozarks Resorts in Missouri said it brought in the innovative policy because of complaints about how long a round of golf takes.
“When you read reviews of golf courses, or talk to golfers almost anywhere, it’s the comment you hear over and over, ‘golf takes too long’,” said the club’s head professional Chris Lash.
“There’s a lot of talk about the industry needing to get creative. So that’s what we’re doing: give people more flexibility, while trying to generate some extra revenue along the way.”
Under the new flexible pricing model, available to resort guests and the general public, in winter golfers pay $10 plus tax and receive a buggy, and can play for an hour on one of the club’s two 18-hole courses. They then pay a pro-rated fee for every additional 15 minutes they stay on the course. Green fees for the course range from 39 (in winter) to 90 dollars for the 18 holes, depending on when the golfer wants to play.
As Lash and his golf shop colleagues see it, this form of pricing addresses two challenges at once, giving golfers a more equitable time-for-money deal while helping to fill empty slots on the tee sheet.
It is meant to appeal to local golfers as well as business and leisure travelers who are keen on getting a few holes in without shelling out for a full round or spending the four-plus hours that 18 holes frequently demand.
Lash said the club is planning on offering this rate year-round, although the rate will vary by the season, and possibly day-by-day or even hour-by-hour, depending on the volume of play.
“We’ve emphasised the need to be respectful,” Lash said. “If we send a single out there on an hourly rate, we remind them the importance of being aware of other groups and to make sure they’re not intruding on someone’s else round.
“Operators these days are trying all kinds of things. I’ve seen three-hole rates, six-hole rates. But I haven’t heard of anyone else doing an hourly rate.”
“This is definitely a first,” said Matt Tausig, the club’s director of golf. “I’ve worked in the golf industry for 25 years, and I’ve never seen another golf course offer this kind of pricing.”