TEE TIMES TRIAL AT ENMORE PARK
1ST APRIL 2019 TO 12TH MAY 2019
In November 2018, at the club members forum, it was announced that a proposal for a tee times trial would be put to the board. That proposal was unanimously approved in January 2019 and bookable tee times will be available on Monday 1st April.
The board and management team recognise that the subject of tee times remains controversial, so we feel that this brief communication is in order. It outlines the facts relating to the trial, answers several questions that continue to crop up, and hopefully helps to allay the fears of those members who we know are strongly opposed to the whole idea of tee times at Enmore Park. (To view a brief summary of the trial please follow this link).
We’ll start with a couple of the big questions and then move onto addressing some of the points that have been raised by members in their communications to us. There’s then a final summary, and it goes without saying that we continue to welcome the opinions of our members in relation to what we know is a subject that provokes much debate.
WHY IS ENMORE PARK RUNNING A TEE TIMES TRIAL?
Several members have expressed the opinion that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Enmore Park isn’t broken, far from it, but no business can afford to not adapt to change and golf is changing. Here are just a few reasons why we are running this trial:
- A lot of members have requested the facility. Many comments submitted during the 2018 members survey were along the lines of “Bring in tee times”. These comments were by no means exclusively from those who have joined us from other clubs during the last few years.
- There’s a much to be said to knowing when you’ll be playing. A few taps on your mobile phone and you’ve got a confirmed tee time, without running the risk of joining a queue.
- Visitors overwhelmingly want to book tee times and we are compromising a valuable income stream by only allowing societies to book the tee. Many of our competitors offer this facility and the trial will provide valuable feedback on whether that facility would work well at Enmore Park.
- Tee time booking is crucial to the goal of maximising profit at off-peak times. The feedback from members will be invaluable in helping us decide whether tee times are right for Enmore Park Golf Club, and the parameters under which such a system would operate.
IS THIS THE “THIN END OF THE WEDGE”?
No, absolutely not. Some members have suggested that a decision has already been taken and that our path to moving to fully bookable tee times begins with this one step. That is simply not true, tee times are not a “done deal”. The only decisions that have been taken are to run a trial, make any adjustments necessary during that trial, and then assess if/when/how to proceed once all feedback has been taken on board.
That’s covered the two major questions we’ve been asked and now we will give a few pieces of information about the trial, followed by some responses to concerns that have been expressed on the matter to date.
1 – Golf Dates and Times
The trial will last for six weeks, with tee times bookable on Monday 1st April 2019 through to Friday 12th May 2019. Bookings can be made for the 1st tee from midday to 4pm on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There will be no bookable tee times at weekends other than the existing ones for club competitions.
2 – Booking Dates and Times
Members will be able to book tee times up to three weeks in advance and visitors will be able to book two weeks in advance. Booking opens at 7:30pm each day, a time that we feel is likely to be convenient for as many members as possible.
The first bookable tee time will therefore be midday on Monday 1st April, bookable at 7:30pm on Monday 11th March.
Booking can be made electronically in the same way that competitions are booked into but can also be made by calling the club office (01278 672100 - option 4).
Please note that EVERYONE (members and visitors) playing during the hours that the trial is operating MUST visit the Pro-Shop to check their tee time before commencing play.
3 – Payments by Visitors
The tee booking system requires that visitors pay in full at the time of booking, and the rates set are £45.00 per person for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with a rate of £27.00 per person for Mondays. Payment in advance, of our standard fees, is highly desirable and should mean that there are few “no shows”, if any.
Members can of course book visitors in to play at guest rates, set to £27.00 and £21.00 respectively. Whilst refunds won’t normally be offered to all-visitor groups if they wish to cancel, refunds will be offered to visitors who are guests of members should they cancel their tee booking.
4 – Turn Up and Play
Our members are used to arriving at the course and walking onto the first tee to play at a time to suit them.
Sometimes there’s a queue of course but there are rarely queues (if ever) between midday and 4pm. The ability to just “turn up and play” will effectively still exist, but it will be a requirement of the trial that members call into the Pro-Shop to register before playing.
Whilst this does represent a change to the current situation, we believe that even if members don’t wish to book in advance, the ability to log in to the club website and view the bookings that are in place will be an advantageous step.
5 – Established Groups
Another concern that has been expressed relates to how established groups will fare during the trial. There are two points to make here. The first is that between midday and 4pm we are not aware of any such groups. Secondly, if a tee time system were to be introduced it would be a priority to ensure that established groups had the times they play protected accordingly.
If you are part of, or aware of a group that does normally meet during the tee times trial, please let us know so that we can take the necessary steps to avoid disrupting your arrangements.
6 – Block Bookings
We’ve been made aware of concerns that members will be able to make block bookings, thereby excluding other members from playing at peak times. Once again, the trial will take place at what are very much off-peak times, so even if block booking were a possibility, there would be no need for concern in this instance. However…
… The booking system we have in place will be as fair as it can possibly be. Members will be able to book themselves and up to three other members into one tee slot. All tee times will become available at 7:30pm as previously mentioned.
Should we progress to tee booking being available at peak times (see point 7), every member will have the same opportunity as every other member. Club officals p will follow the same rules for telephone bookings.
7 – The Days and Times Chosen
During various ad-hoc discussions with members the question of why we are trialling a system at an off-peak time on off-peak days has been asked on more than one occasion. The sentiment behind the question being that the only time we need tee booking is on Saturday mornings. (Conversely, there have been those who categorically do not want tee times on a Saturday morning, more on that in point 8)
So why did we choose the “Off-Peak option”? Here’s why:
There may be problems that crop up or difficulties we haven’t considered. The impact of these issues would almost certainly be greatly reduced at the times we’ve chosen.
The Pro-Shop and office staff will be very much part of the trial, it’s a learning process for us too. We feel that we can gain most from the trial by having tee times that coincide with office hours.
The sort of feedback we’re after can be just as easily be achieved during the chosen hours as it could be if we had chosen peak times. The aim here is not to address long queues on the first tee, it is to put a system in place that countless other golf clubs use, and get an initial “feel” for how it may (or may not) work at Enmore Park.
8 – I won’t be able to get on/I’d rather queue
Something that is already apparent is that members are willing to queue at busy times (often for quite a while) to ensure that they can get onto the course. We are hearing concerns that tee times, whilst ending the queues, would limit the numbers who can get a game at peak times.
For now, this is not something we need to consider, but it is a matter of fact that with or without tee times, the physical number of players who can get around the course on any day is finite. Tee times would however smooth out the flow onto the course and that may turn out to be preferable to the current self-regulating system of a queue followed by stop/start golf on a packed course.
9 - The Impact of the Trial
We don’t anticipate that there will suddenly be a big increase in the number of rounds being played and in truth we’d be astonished if there was any real difference in the day to day experience on the course. “Why bother then?” you might ask.
We refer you to point 7, and the idea that right now we’re not trying to do anything more than run a trial of an overall system. It’s also reasonable to say that we’re demonstrating a system, and that’s certainly the case for members who don’t enter competitions and have not booked tee times before.
Some final words
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, golf is changing. Enmore Park is a great golf club and we’re very proud of what we offer to guests and visitors. However, we didn’t get to where we are, and we won’t get to where we want to go if we don’t continue to embrace the changes that our sport is encountering.
When our members visit other clubs they like to know when they are playing, and equally, we want to offer that facility to visitors by utilising the technology available to us.
We feel that if visitors can book tee times, it’s perfectly reasonable that members should also be able to do so. Many members want us to introduce tee times, many do not. It seems that a tee time trial is appropriate, but as mentioned earlier in this document it is not the thin end of the wedge.
During the trial we will be taking all comments on board, making any adjustments that we feel are necessary and practical. After the trial we will continue to take comments and there will be a full review distributed to members.
The trial will last just for 96 hours of bookable times, and we hope that all our members will put aside any reservations they have and embrace it. In short, please give it a chance and don’t’ dismiss it out of hand before it even begins.