One of the most controversial issues in golf is setting a proper rate for the green fees. Many golf courses set their rates based on last year’s pricing, what the competitors are charging or an intuitive guess as to what the fair market value of the experience is.
Differing rates are often set by residency status for municipalities. Municipal and daily fee golf courses frequently have variables rates based on age, day of the week or time of the day.
Based on the uncertainty as to whether the prime weekend rate is properly set, we witness many golf courses issuing a plethora of different types of unlimited play season passes, economy plans (couple hundred dollars upfront fee plus 50% off each rounds), punch passes (purchase 10 rounds, play 12), loyalty cards (small upfront fee with $2 – $5 off per round).
Below is an example of these programs from two sample courses:
|Course One||Course Two|
|Unlimited Play Season Passes||Unlimited Play Season Passes|
|Individual||Unlimited Play Seasons Passes With Cart|
|Couple||New Member Season Passes|
|Family||New Members Season Passes With Cart|
|College||2nd Adult Season Pass|
|Student||2nd Adult Season Pass With Cart|
|Junior Season Pass|
|Unlimited Play Season Passes – Twilight|
|Twilight – Individual|
|Twilight – Couple|
|Twilight – Family|
|Twilight – College|
|Unlimited Play Cart Passes – Twilight|
|(5) 18-hole cart rounds|
|(10) 18-hole cart rounds|
|(15) 18-hole cart rounds|
|(20) 18-hole cart rounds|
|(10) 9-hole cart rounds|
|Punch Passes||Punch Passes|
|5 Rounds||Economy Pass – Upfront fee with 50% off each round|
|10 Rounds||Patron Card – Small upfront fee with $2 off per round|
|15 Rounds||Punch Card – Buy 10 rounds, receive 12 rounds|
|20 Rounds||Range Pass|
|Corporate Transferable – 10 Rounds|
|9 Hole Rounds|
It is my belief that golfers are very smart in selecting and analyze these alternatives based on the forecast number of rounds they anticipating playing. To me, each of these programs represents a discount which effectively undermines the golf course’s financial potential.
While it is unrealistic to think all of these “discount programs” will be eliminated, if for no other reason than peer pressure from what competitors are offering, what you think is very important.
Here is the single question that I value your opinion: “Should a golf course offer “BOTH” unlimited season passes AND punch passes?”