Getting a tee time on a public golf course will continue to be challenging in 2023. When tee times are first available, usually at midnight seven days in advance, one must set the alarm, rush to one’s computer and grapple with the masses to reserve a tee time.
Would you pay someone a commission to book the time for you? I would. Just like a travel agent who books airlines, hotels, and cars for you, I am more than willing to pay someone for the convenience of reserving a tee time for me.
There is a company, Loop Golf, that is offering this service. However, the firm is getting pushback from a management company, other leaders in the industry, and sage golf research analysts. I don’t understand the resistance. What do you think?
Some background. Here is an edited excerpt from a recent Loop Golf press release:
“Loop Golf is an innovative, new online tee time search engine designed to simplify the booking process for golfers – similar to popular travel sites like Kayak and Hipmunk.
While golfers are playing an all-time high 500+ million rounds a year, the experience to shop for tee times remains outdated and time-consuming.
That’s why startup veterans Matt Holder and Pablo Kang decided to start Loop Golf. With combined experience at companies like CarGurus, Trulia, Zillow, Scoot, and Houzz, Matt and Pablo bring considerable expertise to the golf industry. It is their belief that golfers should have a modern search experience to find easily and book tee times at any course.”
Loop aggregates tee times from publicly available sources, providing golfers with an innovative search experience showing golfers all available tee times in a single view. Golfers can then book available tee times directly through the course’s website.
If a golfer’s preferred tee time is unavailable, Loop’s concierge service helps golfers book one as soon as it becomes available.
Golfers can use the Loop concierge service to pre-order tee times before a tee sheet is open or use their waitlist to secure a tee time should someone else cancel. To set it up, golfers select the course, date, and time range and set a greens fee budget, which secures their spot in line for the limited number of tee times available.
Loop Golf operates on a commission-based model paid by the golfer. When a golfer books a tee time via Loop’s concierge, the golfer pays the amount of the second highest budget plus a booking fee. Loop keeps the booking fee while the course gets the greens fee plus the remainder of the golfer’s budget.
Unlike other online tee time booking platforms, which take revenue from courses via barter arrangements, Loop Golf aligns its success with golf courses. “Loop Golf is free for courses, with no integration work or new technology required for courses to benefit,” said Matt. “We believe that successful courses are the key to growing the game of golf.
Our mission is to help courses maximize their earnings potential by doing shopping for tee times effortlessly. You can’t do that by bartering and discounting tee times, which only benefits a small number of golfers yet starves every course of critical revenue.”
While launching a test model in the San Francisco Bay area, Loop Golf encountered resistance. I don’t understand why?
If they are booking tee times available to the public at the rate specified on the golf course’s website and charging a premium to a golfer for the convenience of the service, how is the golf course at a disadvantage?
Mike Dickoff, founder of golf industry information technology boutique Apparation and a superior golf industry data analyst, commented
“More power to these guys for trying to bring innovation to the industry that could benefit everyone. I have been trumpeting to golf course operators for the past two years that we have a “crisis of convenience” in the industry as golf courses have gotten fuller… but very few course operators have expressed much interest in delving into the issue. You only truly understand the issue if you are a golfer trying to secure tee times at public courses… and when is the last time that most golf course operators have done this themselves?”
Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way over the past decade that the golf industry is particularly resistant to new ideas from “interlopers” who dare to spend time and money trying to improve the game without the endorsement of the bureaucrats who currently hold the keys to the kingdom. It is a good thing that some of us are just hard-headed enough to keep trying to push the envelope despite the naysayers.
Stuart Lindsay, a sage and astute pundit, wrote,
“This is a very interesting approach, but,…it is full of devilish details. In the end, it all boils down to an idea that undermines the golf courses’ control over their most valuable asset. There are some good features, but the overall application is downright dangerous.”
In the early 1990’s, when Fairway Systems launched a touch-reservation system installed on 425 golf courses including on the four Monmouth County courses, a golfer bought a predictor dialer that automatically dialed incessantly to ensure they got the first tee time at Hominy Hills. They then often sold the time to another golfer. There was nothing we could do to thwart their efforts.
Currently, many LA muni golfers are convinced that that bot-booked tee times are on the rise according to Josh Sens, a talented Golf Magazine writer. The City and County golf folks he spoke with all said bots exist but that their influence is nowhere near as great as the public perceives it to be.
The City and county of Los Angeles aren’t concerned. I don’t believe other golf course owners should be either.
I view a tee-time concierge service, just like a travel agency. You pay a commission for the convenience. In that Loop Golf, is booking tee time for golfers at the published rack rate published by the golf course, I think that is excellent customer service.
What do you think?