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In many clubs, May has seen a return to demand levels not seen for several years and along with the relative absence of discounting has meant tee times being sold at far more sustainable levels. Yes, capacity has been lower and this will increase through June, but importantly the absence of aggressive third party distributors with their race to the bottom approach to pricing has been key. If we are to maintain the success of May, it is vital that these discounters are not fuelled with free bartered inventory or discounted tee times so that they undermine our businesses. 

We are led to believe that Golf Now, have been writing to club operators using their BRS tee management system demanding unfettered access to up to four barter tee times per day (16 golfers) of Golf’s Now choosing, as a condition for continued use of the BRS system. They will no doubt support the sale of this inventory using heavy discounting and through their access to Sky Sports advertising platforms (also part of the same group). The golf clubs will not receive a single penny for barter tee times sold and their entire pricing model is likely to be undermined in the process. 

TAKE ACTION NOW If you are a BRS operator, consider carefully: The true cost of using this system. A tiny increase in your average green fee, would more than fund a typical tee sheet and membership management system (£2-5k per annum), that you control, provides you with your distribution system and allows you to set your pricing. What money are GOLF NOW generating off the 5,824 (16 golfers x 364 days) barter tee times you give them every year for your "free” BRS system. How can you control your inventory right now? Can you block off times for your use, releasing them to direct bookers only? If you are not using BRS, you will be in a stronger position, so consider carefully Why are you providing inventory to third party distribution channels? How many of your green fee customers are regular players at your course? Were they coming to your course anyway, but are simply using a third-party website because you’re offering cheaper green fees there. Are you simply fuelling the third parties by increasing the choice available there? Review your site and make sure it’s simple and easy to book and always exclusively offers your best price. Before choosing to discount, remember golf is a great value activity, so maybe invest the money you were going to give in discounts in the online promotion to increase awareness of your club. How frustrating will it be to see the person who was prepared to pay £40 last month for his round now paying £25 for the same experience, especially if you then end up paying 25% commission or all the money goes to the barter operator? 

This is about making sure that golf remains sustainable for the people who provide the facilities, YOU. Please take action now. Challenge your peers and colleagues to do the same so that golf comes out of this crisis in good health and has the opportunity to reinvigorate itself in a sustainable way for all. Best regards Doug Poole – CEO UK Golf Federation