One of the most foolish reasons I’ve heard a golf course General Manager or owner say was their reason for choosing a particular Point-of-Sale system (rather than the one I was trying to sell him) was that “they have more installs than anyone else.”
Me: “How do you know that?”
GM: “The rep told me. And I have friends who have it.
Me: “How many friends?”
GM: “Maybe three or four.”
Me: And what if those three or four were the only ones in the world who had it; would that make a difference?”
GM: Probably not.
But that doesn’t have to happen anymore. Thanks to research performed by Apparation LLC and its access to the Internet Golf Database (IGDB), we now have data showing us the respective market shares of Tee Sheet/Point-of-Sale providers to public golf facilities in the U.S. (Data is also assembled for Canada, but for the purposes of this article, only U.S. facilities are discussed).
IMPORTANT NOTE: The data is compiled by examining each public course website (if it has one) and identifying the online tee time booking engine and website providers (a bonus). Sometimes, the course does not use the PoS-provided online booking engine. In those cases, the PoS provider is hidden, and the online booking provider is recorded.
So here is the tease to keep you reading: Want to know the market leader? Got that. Want to know how the next “top five” stack up? Got that. Want to know how many online tee time vendors were found (far more than you think)? Got that. Want to know how market shares changed from 2021? Got that, along with gains and losses for each company. And do you want to know how many public golf facilities don’t have online tee time booking capabilities (it’s disappointingly more than you think)? We’ve got that too.
So, the market share leader in online tee time booking engines is (drum roll please): NONE! That’s right, 4,392 US public golf facilities, or 40.1%, do not have online tee time booking capabilities. Wow, but hey, it’s only 2022. Check back in 2122 to see if this improves.
And of this group, 1,776 are 18+-hole, regulation courses. You know, where most golf is played. Certainly, some of the 4,392 are rural, par-3, or less than regulation courses that don’t think online tee time reservations are needed. In fact, a lot of these might still be paper tee sheets and NCR cash registers. But those 1,776 with websites but no online tee time booking? I’d sure like to hear the reasons for not including online tee time technology in the business and to their customers.
Five vendors dominate the 59.9% of courses with online tee time booking, which account for 50.8% of the 10,953 golf course websites examined. The leader in this group is GolfNow, with 2,974 installations, or 27.2% market share. Here are two things to note:
- GolfNow amassed most of its total through the major acquisitions of FORE! Reservations and EZLinks, along with a few other minor vendors. The colloquial term is “buying countertops.” Other members of the Top 5 all grew organically.
- GolfNow lost market share from 2021, with a net -85 loss of clients.
The four other members of the “Top 5” include ForeUP (1,160/10.6% | +182 from 2021), Lightspeed (434/4.0% | +73 from 2021), Club Prophet (553/5.0% | +26 from 2021), and Teesnap (440/4.0% | -18 from 2021). No other company has more than 136 (Club Essential). How many other online tee time booking vendors are there? Would you believe 66 (71 total)? You might recognize a few, but others were unheard of until Apparations’s research sheds light upon their being.
Now, before I hear from my PoS friends complaining their respective numbers are incorrect, let me remind them that (1) these are U.S. public courses, and (2) the identification is made by the online tee time booking vendor on the course website. Furthermore, I know that products like Sagacity (97) and Golfback (60) sit atop integrated PoS systems, so we’re missing at least 167 PoS counts and probably more. They are most welcome to contact Apparation LLC to provide the most accurate (and verifiable) data.
Here are a couple of other interesting factoids. The states with the most significant number of public courses without online tee time booking include New York, with 298 (53% share), followed by Michigan with 267 (42% share), and Iowa with 244, or a whopping 75% share of courses without online booking capabilities, the highest percentage in the country! Maybe Iowa should be known as the “walk-up” state.
States with the fewest number of public courses without online tee time booking include Arizona (41/16%), followed by Utah (17/17%), and Nevada (14/17%). California has 112 (18%), followed by New Jersey (29/18%) and Connecticut (19/18%). Our nation’s capital, Washington D.C, has all five courses with online tee time booking, or 0%, the lowest percentage in the U.S.! Maybe the ease of booking tee times is why nothing gets done there.
One last factoid - golf’s version of “Stranger Things.” Apparation counted 421 public courses that did not have online tee times in 2021 but do now. We welcome them to the digital world. However, 231 public courses that had online tee times in 2021 don’t now. What happened? All but eight of the websites are still active, so most don’t appear to have closed. Maybe some went private, and maybe some have new ownership or management that instituted changes. Or maybe they didn’t pay their providers’ bills. Any way you look at it, it’s strange.
This is just a taste of the ongoing research done by Apparation LLC. If you want more information on Apparation data subscription products, send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org or text to 612-889-6710.
And if you think “bigger is better,” go ahead and give up some of your valuable tee times to GolfNow. But first, think about this: If your season is 365 days and you’re giving up two times a day, and another course has a six-month season giving two times a day for the same product and service, isn’t there some inequity in this proposition? I wonder.