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At the 99th PGA Annual Meeting at PGA National Resort & Spa in November, it was publicized that

“The PGA of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) announce a partnership to form Golf USA Tee Time Coalition, which will provide education for golf course owners, operators and PGA members and serve as an industry monitor for compliance of third-party online tee time providers.”

Click here for a copy of the Third Party Provider Guidelines just released.  Click here for a copy of the original draft of the Third Party Provider Guidelines developed in 2011.

What impact do you think this coalition will have?  I have my doubts.  Here is why.

The press released continued, “The Golf USA Tee Time Coalition will fund a dedicated Compliance Officer based in NGCOA headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina; will feature an Advisory Council with representatives from supporting tee time companies, and will educate golf industry leaders about its mission strategy; and educate the public about the value of the golf industry and particularly, the online tee time sector of the golf industry.”

The foundation on which the guidelines were developed largely without the input of individual golf course owners, supporting tee times companies or the PGA.

The guidelines were developed by the head of a large management company and the former NGCOA Executive Committee Michael Hughes.   Though a committee was formed of NGCOA members to participate in this process, their role was very limited despite their pleas for more active involvement.

The only tee time company that was involved in the formation of the guidelines was Golfnow.   EZ Links and Golf18 (Course Trends), though they issued the perfunctory letter to be read at the PGA Annual Meeting, were essentially excluded from the discussions.

The PGA of America’s Jeff Price, Chief Commercial Officer, only became actively involved in the process near the conclusion.

Thus, the following questions remain to be answered:

–    Will management companies disclose the separate side deals they have been able to negotiate with GolfNow that are in conflict with Third Party Provider Guidelines?
–    Will management disclose the rebates they are receiving from GolfNow for tee times liquidated on their client’s behalf and whether the funds received are credited to their client’s accounts?
–    Who is going to fund the Compliance Officer’s position in South Carolina and what real influence will they have?
–    How can anyone expect EZ Links, Golf Pipeline or Golf18 to adhere to guidelines that they did not participate in forming?
–   Why won’t golf software companies like Club Prophet, EZ Links and IBS provide interfaces to Quick 18 and other firms that are trying to establish an independent alternative to GolfNow?

–   Even if a tee time company violates the guidelines, what meaningful sanction or fine can be implemented?  GolfNow continues to thrive despite having been the pariah of the industry for years.

It seems that this initiative is like putting a silk dress on a sow pig and is only designed to convince the unknowing and unsophisticated that the lip service that has been provided to this process will magically solve their woes.
What do you think?
Comment below.

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  1.    Reply

    As for another navy blazer / good ole boy approach to Golf USA / Online Tee Times …… the PGA is more PC than the Obama gov’t. It vividly strikes me in our industry that no one person / CEO / investor has the juice to make significant changes. All those in charge (PGA Tour, USGA, PGA of America) are all floating about and above the fluff & chatter and are buried inside guidelines and PC rules and TV contracts surrounding their specific events. TV $ rules, period; not problems in each Section.

    The “leaders” form a committee that anoints a direction and provides their PC CYA. Nothing is really done.

    What initiatives exist to spearhead new innovative business models for all forms of golf facility lifeblood; golf capacity, game improvements, retail, agronomy, entertainment, water, millennials, time. The industry just seems to float and all hide behind their local clubs & affiliations of high power (members).

    Nobody is the final say like a Roger Goodell, commissioners for a sport & industry that are now hyper powerful MEGA BUSINESS cults. To its’ simplicity, beauty, predictability and yes, detriment golf just continues to hide and protect it’s traditions and game guidelines and maybe next week it will be better. The top 8-10% thrive in this scenario and the masses are left to selling 5 hrs of time for $32.00.

    John Bond

  2.    Reply

    I agree with JJ’s skepticism regarding the Golf USA Tee Time Coalition. But mine is based on my own approach to selling tee times in a competitive marketplace. Although, I like the ‘dynamic’ pricing concept (we’ve been using a primitive version since the dinosaur days), I don’t believe in throwing in with my competitors when at the same time I want the foursome on my course – not theirs!

    I think I’m seeing the supply-demand adjustment problem of the last ten years sorting itself out, as many of the bad apples have fallen from the trees. Fewer golf courses has strengthened the demand for tee times at remaining golf courses.

    When I say I want that foursome on my golf course and not yours I mean it. However, I run my own show and build my own customer base. I don’t need to pay a dime to Golf Now or anyone, yet I can still outdraw my competitors – and get paid for every filled tee time. When I showed a client how much he was really paying those tee time companies – $ thousands in a year, he was shocked! To make matters worse he learned he was competing with the same tee time seller for the same players. Duh!

    Me. I’ll spend 1/2 that reseller money my own way without giving a single tee time away. I want to be paid for every tee time I sell – period. That coalition will only pander to the same group that has been plaguing the business during the recent ‘adjustment’ period – tee time resellers. They don’t mow greens, manage a clubhouse, pay bank interest, manage a restaurant, or administer hundreds of accounts. All they do is make easy money off struggling golf courses who never learned how to sell tee times themselves.

    Anyway, I like JJ’s approach. I hope most of his readers stay close to his commentary and see what happens.

    Golfmak, Inc.