Golf Passports – A Good Deal for Whom? A Clarification 

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The Facebook post read, “Includes deals on up to 60% savings on green fees at over 60 golf courses in CO. And BONUS deals on gear and dining, with a free stay and play golf vacation in Mesquite, NV.”  The economy passport costs $59.95.

That is undoubtedly a good deal for the golfer but what about the golf course owner?   Here is the impact of discounting on additional rounds that a golf course must sell to “break-even:.”


Additional Rounds Required to Break-Even

5.00% 5.26%
10.00% 11.11%
15.00% 17.65%
20.00% 25.00%
25.00% 33.33%
30.00% 42.86%
35.00% 53.85%
40.00% 66.67%
45.00% 81.82%
50.00% 100.00%
60.00% 150.00%

With discounts up to 60%, golf course owners would need to increase their rounds by 150% to break even.  I’m not too fond of those odds.

Publications don’t increase play at a golf course.  A leading Colorado PGA Pro, a master at yield management, labels third-party offerings as a “race to the bottom.  Whoever purchases those books, I don’t want as my customer as they are focused on price, not value.”

To his point, over the past 20 years, since the issue of passports and the advent of barter, the number of golfers, rounds, or total consumer spending has not materially changed in America save for the impact of the Pandemic.

I think third-party publications and the use of barter for golf and services that reallocate revenue from the golf course owner who has made a significant investment to independent third parties is not a good idea.

However, I should clarify.  On February 28, 2023, I stated, “We talked with several companies selling coupon books from $39 to $59 that provide golfers significant discounts on many golf courses through the State of Colorado.  The owners at Avid Golfer and Green Saver commented that they are having increased difficulty getting better golf courses to participate in.  Thus, their revenue is adversely impacted.”

Here is what I should have stated more clearly, “tee time books sold by independent third parties are having increased difficulty getting the better courses to participate.  The value to the consumer in purchasing these books is decreasing.  Thus, the revenue of these publications may ultimately be adversely impacted.”

To wit, 21 of the leading Colorado golf courses that were participating in 2019 and are no longer enrolled.  They are among the best courses in the state, in addition to Fossil Trace and the Golf Club at Bear Dance, which have never participated.  They have been replaced by a sordid lot of 18 golf courses, of which only three are in the Denver metroplex.  Thus, the value of the passbook to the golfer, in my opinion, is decreasing.

In equity, it should be highlighted that two of the premier golf courses in Denver with incredibly talented general managers participate in third-party promotions.  Why?

One of the magazines has wisely created a tournament series for golfers to access private and premier clubs.  The premier daily fee courses  are included in the tournament series, where they are able to sell out a 144-person shotgun on a slow day, i.e., Monday, for a discount of the rack rate of 10%  – 15%.  Further, these clubs are provided opportunities to advertise in the magazine at discounted rates.  Finally, they control using the passbook round redemption to a 48-hour window during off-peak times.  Less than 1% of their rounds are redeemed by third-party offerings.

What is your opinion? Do third party offerings create value for the golf course owner?

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1 comment

  1.    Reply

    The answer to your question is a simple no.