How to Craft Singles Into Your Tee Sheet... And Not Be Cheesy About It


By Harvey Silverman, Contributor, Golf Business | Silverback Golf Marketing 

My mother used to love the convenience of Kraft singles, perfect squares of processed American cheese neatly wrapped in peel-apart pouches. Long before the requirement of “use by” dates, she always assumed the worst about their freshness. So whenever she included cheese on a lunch sandwich for school, she’d include the cheese in the wrapper, just in case it would spoil by the time lunchtime came around. Oy, the lunchtime ridicule. 

A recent NGCOA Accelerate string began the new year with the ever-present and sometimes annoying problem of single customers looking to play a round of golf. The opinions are as varied as the cheese selection at Whole Foods. But my experience with many clients over the years forms my opinion that too often, course operators let the singles dictate a policy that might not be in the best interests of how the business and tee sheet flow are run.

Covid brought many new golfers to the first tees of courses nationwide. Many of them desired to play alone for obvious reasons. And courses were happy, thrilled in fact, to accommodate them. It appears that the flow of singles has not subsided, and lots of people learned that playing alone was not only allowed but encouraged. And now, course operators cannot turn off that spigot.

Years ago, someone came up with the average number of golfers per foursome, about 2.5, meaning 1.5 slots went unused and unpaid. That’s likely changed in a big way with the increased demand experienced in the past couple of years. As long as that demand remains, protecting the sanctity of the foursome on the tee sheet is vitally more important.

Possibly, the worst possible solution is to let singles book tee times into an empty time, effectively blocking a foursome looking to book, too. You could end up with three unused and unpaid slots and a single sandwich between larger groups, negatively impacting the flow of play and likely creating very unhappy customers. Either the single will try to hopscotch around or over groups or complain about the “horrible” pace of play. No one wins.

Your GMS system tee sheet should be able to block singles from booking unless two or, preferably, three are already booked into that time. One member mentioned how singles learned to “game” the system by booking a twosome or threesome (or maybe a foursome), then arriving alone with excuses about why the “others” can’t make it. Unless other singles were waiting to play (remember the old standby bench?), that tee time just lost 25%-75% of its value. Brutal.

Prepayment is one way to combat this, and it works for some courses. Your GMS has to enable this functionality. One way to appease customers with the new prepayment process is to offer a small discount, with the full rate paid “at the door.” It’s funny how a few bucks will influence customers.

The other method is a strict policy that cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, or a credit card will be charged the full rate for the uncanceled times. Unfortunately, the golf industry does not share the reputation of the hospitality and airline industry with bank card issuers, which generally deny a customer’s dispute for hotels, airlines, and some restaurants. Not so with golf. What’s required is very specific, legally-specific policy wording posted in required places and agreed to by the customer at the time of booking. This wording must be approved by the bank card issuers (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, etc.), a project the NGCOA could possibly pursue.

Walk-ups are generally good business; most golfers understand they’ll be placed in the first opening. But agreeing to let them play alone (the single-squeeze) or choose who they get to play with is letting them run your business. Airlines will let you fly alone in an aisle – but you have to buy the other two seats. It’s their policy.

There is technology that can help when you effectively convince single customers to use it. The Gallus app has its StandBy electronic wait list, which notifies customers by push to their phones, who set a profile of when they want to play, that a slot is canceled or no-showed. Noteefy is similar, but it also lets customers set preferences far in advance and be first in line with the tee sheet opens. That’s fine, as long as the tee sheet is set to not allow singles until others are booked at the desired time.

So, enjoy the singles. Craft them onto your tee sheet. And don’t let them spoil your business. 


Golf Business LIVE Episodes

Harvey Silverman is a contributor to Golf Business and the proprietor of his marketing consultancy, Silverback Golf Marketing, and the co-founder of, golf’s only pay-by-hole app. Harvey authored NGCOA’s “Beware of Barter” guide and has spoken at their Golf Business Conferences and Golf Business TechCon.
** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**