A New Way to Pay and Play

A new way to play – Paying by the hour

The Lodge of Four Seasons at Lake Ozark in Missouri is going to be trialling a new pricing structure along side the traditional pricing structure at its two courses ‘The Ridge’ and ‘The Cove’. Unlike the traditional and commonly used structure that most golf courses use where you pay to play a set number of holes whether that be 9, 18 or 36. The Lodge of Four Seasons is going to implement an hourly rate system where you pay to play for a set amount of time, similar to what is used in many of sporting establishments such as at tennis clubs. This is a move that is hoped to offer golfers a better value for money approach to the game we all love. So what might be some of the benefits and drawbacks to using such a system.

One of the first benefits that comes to mind with using a hourly rate system is that it will allow golfers who either play faster or like to go out on their own to get better value for money. For those golfers that can get a full round in in under three hours it will mean that they do not need to pay the same price as a golfer or group who take over 4 hours to complete their round. Golfers who play at a slightly slower pace are not going to be disadvantaged though as they will still be able to pay the standard charge to play 18 holes rather than by the hour.

It will also benefit those who have a bit of time to spare in the day but don’t have enough time for a full round to go out and play without having to pay for more than they will play. For those who have an hour to spare in the day such as in between meetings or after you finish work for the day and before you need to get home to the family, it would allow you to go out and spend this little bit of time on the course.

ridge_6_3(All pictures from 4seasonsresort.com)

Another benefit of introducing this in an age where the speed of play is a constant talking point and people are discussing ways of speeding up the game this approach seems like  it will help to encourage golfers to try and play at a faster pace as they will be able to save money if they do.

While there do seem to be some benefits to the golfer and the game itself there will also be drawbacks to this approach. Imagine you got stuck behind a 3 ball who had paid to play the full 18 holes and you had paid to play an hour and they didn’t let you play through as you are on your own. This would mean that you could get stuck paying for an hour and only getting to play 4 holes whereas if you had no one in front you would have been able to get between 6-8 holes in maybe.

Along with this it could potentially cause golf clubs to loose out on revenue as there will be many golfers who would normally pay for a full round who now might only pay for 2 hours of play as this allows them to get a good amount of time golfing in but also means they don’t loose so much of their day allowing them to get more done.

It will be interesting to see how this pricing structure works in real life and whether we see more clubs take up this sort of approach as it definitely seems to have benefits for many golfers. Hopefully it will encourage those ex-golfers who no longer play due to not having the time to get back into the game we all love.

Thanks for reading and Happy golfing


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