(ORO VALLEY, AZ) This is a fantastic time to be a golfer. Since you’re reading this article, the probability is that you are a golfer and you are already convinced that anytime is a good time to be involved in this fun and addicting game.
So, why is this an unusually great time to partake in this gentlemen’s game? The changing landscape of golf that has come about as a result of a challenging economy
and fewer golfers has opened many new opportunities. Not only have green fee prices been reduced in most cases over the past couple of years but merchandise has also been discounted, additional perks are being offered and possibly most exciting is that many private courses are to one degree or another opening to the public.
Granted most of the high end or higher end courses are private and will continue to be private. However, the transition from private courses to semi-private courses is becoming much more common than in past years. Although this transition can be a real challenge for golf club management in that both the members and the public have to be accommodated, it can and often is a win-win-win situation for the club operation, the public golfer and the club member.
The first win is that golfers who either can’t afford to join a club or who prefer to play a variety of course are now able to play more well maintained courses, usually at a very competitive rate. Many times this affordable golf comes with perks such as free range balls or a combo golf/lunch package at no additional cost. The second win is realized by the club operation in that additional revenue is injected by the new golfers, which is needed by clubs with shrinking memberships.
The more difficult win to realize at times is the benefit that the golf club member derives from the transition to a semi-public course. Members can often look at the introduction of limited public play as an invasion on their club. This thought is understandable. On the other hand, if members are able to get past that reaction and are able to accept additional play on a course that has been under utilized, the members will realize the benefit of an infusion of new revenue that will help keep membership fees as low as possible and help offset operating costs so their course can be maintained in top notch condition while having minimal or no impact on the members’ golf privileges.
The concept of a semi-private club can be very beneficial to the golfers who are not members of a club (affordable golf on a well maintained course) and the club member (an infusion of revenue to offset dues). In order for this concept to be successful it is very important for the public golfer to respect the situation that he/she is playing on a membership course and must adhere to the local club rules; the member must welcome these new golfers and treat their guests or golfers from the public sector with respect; and the club staff must treat everyone who plays the course with utmost respect. In other words, if we all get along, we’ll all benefit.