7 Ways to Grow Green Fee and Cart Fee Revenue Today


By John Brown, CEO, Brown Golf Management 

How would you optimize green fee and cart fee revenue on premium days?

This is an actual interview question I ask head golf professionals and general managers whenever I’m looking to bring them in to operate one of my facilities if there’s a daily fee component to the facility.

I like to ask this question, and I think the answers are very telling about how the operator thinks. But I also think it gives the interviewee some information on my expectations of optimizing your premium days at our golf courses.

So when I say optimize your premium days, I am really saying, how do you take a day that sells 100% of the tee time inventory that anybody could sell (simply because it’s a beautiful day, it’s at the right time of the year) and how do you maximize the profitability on that day and not just have a full tee sheet, make some money, and call it a day?

There are ways you can make more money by optimizing but, first let's layout our golf course setup.

  • Traditional Public Golf Course
  • AM – Premium Fees
  • Midday – Small Price Break
  • Twilight – Bigger Price Break
  • 7:30 AM Start
  • 10 Minute Tee Time Intervals

Whenever an operator can run the facility at maximum capacity my initial assumption is you’re doing an adequate job, at least. However, because the day was going to fill up because the golf course is in great shape and it was a perfect day for golf, we’re finding that most operators don’t know how to properly optimize the tee sheet to increase revenue on these days other than the standard answer of simply raising prices or pushing alternative revenue sources.

While those answers are plausible, simply raising prices can negatively impact our other days that aren’t quite a sell-out and pushing revenue in other departments is important, however for this question, we’re talking about green and cart fee revenue only.

Okay, so how do you optimize your premium days for green and cart fee APR? Well, here are 7 techniques that should be considered.

1. Dynamically Price Your Tee Sheet

The golf industry has been timid of dynamic pricing since many vendors will promote it mainly as a vehicle for discounting the rate during slow times throughout the day. This method can be useful in certain scenarios to drive tee times; however, we focus our dynamic pricing models to help earn a few more dollars per round in higher demand periods. 

Click here for a case study on how a client of ours increased revenue by $3,698 in just a three-day period.

Utilizing a Dynamic Pricing model that increases the rate as utilization and weather start to point towards a sell-out day can easily help you optimize your premium days. 

2. Decrease Tee Time Intervals

Think about creating more opportunities to sell tee times by decreasing the tee time intervals on the tee sheet. You will need to take guest experience and pace of play into consideration but, going from 10-minute tee time intervals to 9-minute tee time intervals can pick up two additional tee times before 12:00 PM – or 2,920 additional round selling opportunities per year.

3. Moving your Starting Time to an Earlier Start

Along the same concept of adding additional tee times using tee time intervals, consider opening the tee sheet earlier to create more selling opportunities. 

A course on 10-minute tee times that opens 30 minutes earlier can create 3 additional tee times per day or 4,380 additional round selling opportunities annually.

Scenario: If your course is stuck to an opening at 7:30 AM due to an HOA agreement or similar restriction and runs 9-minute tee time intervals, but you know that tee times from 8:00 AM to 9:59 AM nearly always sell out, consider opening the tee sheet at 7:26 AM to gain an additional tee time in the 8:00 AM to 9:59 AM window. – A 4-minute earlier start will likely go unnoticed, and you’ll pick up the additional tee time in your busiest window.

4. Double Tee Setups

If you run a straight tee setup starting at 7:00 AM with 9-minute intervals, before 1:00 PM you can get 164 golfers on your golf course. Utilizing a double tee setup during this same window, you can get 192 golfers out on the golf course. That’s an opportunity to have 28 more potential tee times or starts sold for one single day. 

I’ll admit, you must be able to plan for a double tee and you must be ahead of it. You’ll need to be able to communicate with your customers as it will be a bit of a change in how their used to playing the course and you’ll obviously need to talk with your golf course maintenance crew to ensure the course is setup properly. However, when done properly it will in no way detract from the player experience and bring you an opportunity to optimize your premium days.

5. Squeeze Times

Squeeze times are another strategy to gain an extra tee time during the day. While this method is not quite as involved with a double tee setup, you’ll need to make sure you know where the gaps may fall should you invite a group out as a squeeze time.

Squeezing a tee time at the wrong time of day can upset your customers if not done right.

6. Back Nine Starts

Consider selling 9-hole rounds off the back nine first thing in the morning. Under normal circumstances, these players will be off the course in time for your front nine, 18-hole players to make the turn and you’ll pick up additional revenue.

Like double tee setups, you’ll need to communicate with your golf course maintenance team to ensure the course is ready for play.

7. Rate Channel Allocation

The final tactic to optimizing your premium days is a sophisticated method which we call rate allocation. What I’m referring to is knowing who booked a tee time at what rate and in what day part.

For example, if you had a discounted wholesale relationship, and you started to notice that that discounted wholesaler always books your eight to nine o’clock tee time (which are typically your premium tee times) where you know you could easily sell for a rack rate, there’s an opportunity to correct that relationship so that you can make more money in the future.

So, by looking at the different rates, where they book by day part in your tee sheet and then designing your programs with wholesalers you will be positioning your tee sheet for a higher average dollar per round. Perhaps your wholesaler relationship needs to be relationship where access to the first tee time is 11am. Maybe not those premium windows?

A lot of times analyzing membership programs the same way can have the same impact. I constantly here operators say I need more members and I always say that depends on the program. If members populate in all the premium tee times all year long it is highly unlikely that the market for membership pricing can protect a club from rate allocation exposure to member rounds. Analyzing rate allocation of membership programs, wholesalers, and any group that has access to your tee sheet is all about designing the right programs with these different entry points to your tee sheet.

Now, I know there’s someone who’s out there reading this and saying, “that’s all well and good. But there’s so many challenges with that.” I don’t consider these to be challenges, only there’s inputs that need to be examined.

  • What’s achievable with my golf course maintenance crew?
  • Do I need more equipment?
  • Do we need to mow fairways the night before?
  • Am I setup logistically with my POS & Tee Sheet to make these changes?
  • Am I ready to communicate with my customer base?
  • Can I take the heat of altering membership & wholesaler programs?

Analyzing and understanding these inputs is not a something that can be done a few days out. It takes a forward-looking strategy that is at least a month or more out in most cases. However, when done with a thoughtful strategy, historical data, and understanding the inputs a club can supercharge its premium days and build effective yearlong tee sheet management strategy for its market.



John Brown is the CEO of Brown Golf Management and the CEO of GolfBack. John's articles can also be found on LinkedIn.
** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**