Are online tee times for your club?

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick September 13, 2011 16:04

It seems that every week another golf club revamps its website for one main purpose: to make it possible for members, and increasingly visitors, to book tee times on the facility.

Recently Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland launched a new website in which visitors are now able to book tee times online within three days of play, and pay online with instant authorisation and confirmation. The site also includes links to Kingsbarns’ Facebook page and Twitter account, features an interactive online live chat facility and showcases aerial photography and individual hole flyovers. Subscribers receive regular information updates and notification of events and tournaments. There is also a dedicated media section offering images and a press release archive.

Stuart McEwen, the general manager of Kingsbarns, said: “This site is a dynamic and exciting new service for our customers. It will give them an option to make last minute bookings and simplify the booking process. The website will provide them with all the information they need to make the most out of their visit. We also want our customers to be able to engage even more closely with Kingsbarns and our burgeoning social media presence makes it so much easier for them to do so.”

Also in Scotland, the eight municipal golf courses that are part of Golf South Ayrshire are reaping the benefits of a new online booking system launched by South Ayrshire Council, which allows golfers to book and pay for one-off golf sessions as well as longer-term golf memberships from the comfort of their own homes.

Councillor Margaret Toner (pictured), South Ayrshire Council’s portfolio holder for leisure, said: “Our new online booking facility is a major step forward for the council, which will make sure members and visitors alike can get the chance to play at the course and at a time that suits them.

“People come from all over the world to play on our magnificent golf courses in South Ayrshire and now they can book that all important tee time before they even lift their passports. We’re working to make it easier to book and more affordable to play.”

Unsurprisingly, the firms offering this online facility are growing rapidly at the moment. In the first three months of 2011  BRS Golf, for example, saw online bookings grow by 120 per cent over the same period in 2010.

With over 560 golf clubs in the UK and Ireland now using its online diary, booking and tee time management system, BRS Golf saw over £1.2 million in online tee time booking revenues being made via the systems in clubs all around the UK and Ireland.

This result was more than double the booking revenues of £582,000 for the same quarter last year. Of all the bookings taken in the first three months of 2011, over 83 per cent were being made directly through club websites and 17 per cent through third parties, which is in line with the 2010 results.

“The growth rate of online bookings in recent years has been impressive, but the jump in 2011 of 120 per cent over the same period in 2010 has taken everyone by surprise,” said BRS Golf’s Dr Brian Smith. “The previous growth rate of the first quarter of 2009 compared to 2008 was 54 per cent, and it was much the same – 57 per cent – for 2010 compared to 2009.

“Obviously, for much of the UK and Ireland, the weather in the first quarter of 2011 has been much better, compared to the same time in 2010 when clubs were snow-bound or frozen in. But the weather in itself doesn’t explain the massive increase of 120 per cent.

“Our own customer base has grown by 50 clubs in the same time period, and this reflects a much higher sales growth than we’ve previously experienced. It also tells me that many more clubs are now recognising the value of marketing and selling their spare tee times, and they can of course do this while still enabling their members to enjoy playing whenever they want.

“That sort of flexibility has obvious advantages when so many clubs are looking to develop alternative income streams to the traditional membership subscriptions, and when society income is also under pressure.”

Similarly, has announced three new staff appointments that have been made necessary because in May 2011 the number of golfers using its service rose by 87 per cent year-on-year, with 55 per cent of customers booking to play golf on the same, or next, day and 67 per cent playing Monday to Friday.

Richard Barker, head of business development, commented: “We have seen substantial growth in 2011 bookings which, in turn, brings more customer demand for new clubs. We are planning to grow our portfolio to over 1,000 clubs over the next 12 to 18 months and the account management team will be tasked with signing up more clubs in new, developing areas to match this increasing demand.”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick September 13, 2011 16:04
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