Time is the Essence
A critical part of your value proposition should be speed of play. A peak round at most public courses is 5-6 hours. At my course during busy times it is 4 hours 15 minutes. That’s an hour and a half of my life that I just got back. More time to work. More time with family. More rounds of golf since work, family, and darkness tend to inflict hard stops on when I can play.
Swansea country club lets you reserve fixed weekend tee times for the season. One of the primary benefits is speed of play. It occurs because it’s not some random person in front of and behind you. It’s Steve’s group and Bob’s group, just like the last 10 weeks. Groups who play too slowly are easily identified and talked to. Not a bad public course tactic to help this issue.
Here’s a stunner. Nonmembers play slow. Regardless of your level, someone who has played the course 100 times plays faster than someone who has played it 5 times. While protection of tee times is one part of guest rules on weekends, speed of play is equally important. This should also be considered during nonpeak times. A dangerous foursome on a course is a member and 3 guests because a single foursome can destroy speed of play. Many guests will play at the rate they are accustomed to (5.5 hours) rather than sub 4 hours they should be playing at. Good members can play really, really fast. I was in a riding twosome and we stayed even with 4 70+ year old walkers in front of us.
The most dangerous foursome, however, is two pairs of mixed ability. You see this all the time at public courses. Each pair believes they should play exactly how they want. On a resort course, this is really a problem since everyone is paying $200 for the privilege. Good players gamble, study every shot, always defer honors, always defer farthest from pin. Bad players are bad players so they lose their balls, mishit, take mulligans, etc. A toxic combination. Either style of play can be fast alone (it’s pretty quick to be bad if you don’t look for your lost balls and drop with your buddy). A threesome keeps up due to the missing person. A 3 and 1 normally plays with the style of the 3.
So — are you encouraging nonmembers to play in 4somes or 3somes? Are you matching people on weekends when you have the room to let them play in 2s and 3s? What is your speed culture? How do new members understand the expectations? Are your games/contests aligned for speed (max strokes per hole, best score of 4) or slow play (18 hole net)?