Utilizing data acquired by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association, operators are charging more for peak times, such as mid-morning, and less for early and late tee times, to combat stagnant or declining rounds without raising prices across the board.
Many golf course operators on the Grand Strand have been attempting to combat stagnant or declining rounds with inventive pricing that will increase their yield without raising prices across the board, the Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Sun News reported.
Golf courses have been fluctuating rates based on the time of year for decades, and now are often adjusting prices based on demand during the day. Utilizing data and analysis over the past couple years acquired through research commissioned by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association, operators are charging more for peak times such as mid-morning and less for early and late tee times, the News reported.
“It’s becoming more important for courses to use that information,” said Tracy Conner, executive director of the course owners association. “They’re just pricing hopefully a little smarter and more strategic.”
Rates have dropped on Strand courses essentially since rounds began declining in 2005, with the exception of a couple years. The closing of 20 courses between 2005 and 2007 during a housing building boom aided demand and allowed rates to rise for a couple years. But annual declines in paid rounds of between 8 percent and 13 percent in both 2008 and 2009 led courses to again compete for golfers with drops in rates, the News reported.
Some in the market are slowly trying to bump rates again. Founders Group International, a company led by investors from China that has purchased 22 courses since September 2014, is slightly raising the green fee rates it is giving golf package providers this year, according to General Manager Tom Plankers, who believes the entire market needs to follow suit, the News reported.
Eagle Nest Golf Club owner Rick Elliott agrees. He said between $1.1 million and $1.3 million is needed to operate an average golf course, and he has the benefit of a course with no debt, the News reported.
“The lower prices have killed the industry and they’re keeping us from being able to reinvest in the courses,” Elliott said. “The package business has to come back and the locals have to accept a little higher price for golf to be sustained in this area, and have courses in the condition people would want to play the next day.
“We’ve gotten into the coupon mentality and it’s going to be hard to get out of that, but we need to. That’s the only way golf will survive in this area.”