Tee times vs roll-ups: The debate dividing golf

Arrive at your leisure or play at a fixed time? It’s golf’s post-Covid club war. And, warned SMS director Richard Payne, it needs dealing with delicately... Golfers love one or the other and embrace their choice with passionate fervour. Now Covid’s come along and split some locker rooms. How do you sort out the thorny issue of tee time bookings vs roll-ups? For many, a roll-up is what being a member is all about. A chance to come down at leisure, without appointment, pop a ball in the hat or throw it up in the air and see what fate brings. It’s gloriously unpredictable, a great way of integrating players, and the foundation on which some of our most prestigious clubs were built. Coronavirus, though, forced even the most traditional into a rethink. With clubs subject to strict control measures, plenty brought in tee booking software for the first time. More than a year later, using a phone or computer to arrange a round of golf has become second nature. New golfers, attracted to the sport because they could play it safely during the pandemic, know nothing else. But restrictions have eased and clubs have had to make choices: keep tee booking in place, reintroduce the roll-up, or put together a hybrid and look to get the best of both worlds. It has not been an easy decision, and it’s been almost impossible to please everyone. “When we switched over to using a tee booking system, I think it was clear that some people loved it and some people didn’t,” one club manager at a renowned private members’ establishment said. “Some were very keen to get rid of it at the first possible opportunity, while others would have preferred us to keep it. We’ve gone back to how it used to be. It’s really divided opinion. I think it’s probably 50/50 - maybe slightly more in favour of not having it than having it. It’s difficult to say.” BOOK NOW FOR GCMA 2021 CONFERENCE What’s making the decision complicated is data showing newer members are clearly in favour of keeping tee booking – and it’s these players clubs are desperate to keep as we move into a post-pandemic golf era. Outlining the results of a huge participation survey in a GCMA Hot Topics webinar, Richard Payne, director of Sports Marketing Surveys, revealed the impact it could have on the coronavirus boom. “Unequivocally from new golfers, and particularly among time poor golfers, being able to know they could book a slot was something which has brought golfers and individuals back to the game and will be integral in keeping them retained as well,” he said.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exkVO483Wp4 He added: “From that new golfer perspective, it’s absolutely imperative that you can book tee times and you know you can play when you said you’re going to play. “If time commitments and flexibility are the buzzwords to take out from this, not knowing when you roll up to a golf club whether or not...
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