19th Hole

Ryan Eckroat
General Manager
Poston Butte Golf Club
Florence, AZ

More Information

Entering the Online Game

I know what you’re thinking, offering tee times online is a last resort option to sell last minute inventory at steeply discounted rates, right? Ten years ago, I would’ve agreed with you. Even three years ago, I would have agreed with you. But my now times have changed. Now, if you aren’t offering your tee times online, you could be losing huge amounts of potential revenue and for good reason, too. No golf course wants to give up its tee times cheap, but online tee times are the wave of the future and you’d better learn to surf if you want to stay afloat. I will agree that the marriage between tee times and the internet first started as a way to offer deals to the price-sensitive consumer. However, golfers of all ages are becoming increasingly internet-savvy and golf operators must adapt.

At Poston Butte, and every facility in the Troon Golf portfolio, we’ve prided ourselves on delivering personalized service with our “Member for a Day” philosophy. With that in mind, my first rebuttal to online tee times years ago was that it couldn’t be more impersonal. While I still prefer to book our guests tee times over the phone or in person, it’s clear that golfers are currently using the internet to book tee times as much, if not more, for convenience than value. This is where golf operators can and should focus their online tee time strategy: convenience.

Like many other facilities, we were using our online booking engine to fill tee times last minute at heavy discounts. The more open space on the following day’s tee sheet, the more discounted. As the economy changed, we found a lot of days where the vast majority of our bookings were within 24 hours and at steeply discounted rates. It was a cycle that would only get worse without a change in strategy.

So last spring, we did just that. With a focus on convenience, we patterned our online pricing strategy after the airline and hotel industries in which the best deals were offered for booking further in advance. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the guests as they enjoy being able to plan in advance instead of having to wait until the last minute in order to find the best deal.

Keeping in mind the goal of convenience, we’ve made sure that our website quickly and easily directs people to our booking engine in just one click of the mouse. We’ve even included a link, www.bookthebutte.com, in all of our advertisements that guests can access from their web browser to take them straight to our booking engine.

This strategy has been very effective for us over the past year and I believe it will be for your facility as well. Nobody, especially golfers, wants to jump through a bunch of hoops just to book a tee time, so why make them? Similar to the theme in Field of Dreams, “If you make it easy, they will book.”