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Best system for equitable tee times at a private club (that doesn't currently have any)?


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#1 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 08:24 AM

Hey all,

One of the things that some folks have held dear about my golf club is the fact that there are no tee times. It's show up, get your foursome on the starter's list, and wait for your turn. It's worked pretty well over the years, for the most part, but there have been grumbling lately that we need to have tee times for the super-popular 7:30-10:00 timeframe on weekend mornings. (There's really no need for tee times any other time of the week.)

We've recently instituted a new pace-of-play policy that is working out really well, and also instituted a policy of not teeing off on the first hole (a moderate length par-4) until the group in front has pulled the pin. Once you get on the course, the combo of these two policies has definitely improved the length of rounds and mitigated jam-ups. It's just that from the time everyone from your foursome has arrived and you've put your group on the list, you might not be going off for another 1.5 hours.

So, how do you institute tee times in an equitable, agreeable manner at a club that never had them? I know tee times are never going sit well with the "everyone knows that my crew always tees off at 7:45 on Saturdays" crowd and the like, but something needs to be done to thin the herd and keep a million people from milling around the first tee in fear of being leap-frogged.

Here's my idea: Anyone interested in playing on a weekend morning in that early timeframe needs to submit the names of his foursome to the pro shop (or into the software or whatever) by, say, Wednesday at noon. Then, by Thursday at noon, the pro shot (or the software) will do a random assignment of the groups to tee times for the morning. To me, a random ordering of tee times will 1) keep folks from having to sit by their phones/computers to be first into the system to get a favorable tee time, and 2) takes the use of favoritism out of the equation (or at least makes it pretty clear if that kind of thing is happening).

Maybe you assign the tee times so that they're stacked one after another, from earliest onward. Since the idea is that people want to play early and get on with their day after, you don't allow for empty tee time slots. If there aren't enough sign ups to completely fill the morning, then the pro shop can announce that for that day the first tee is open to walk-ups starting at 9:20, for example.

I think you could also fine-tune it to allow people to throw their foursome into the hat for, say, the 7:30-8:30 timeframe only, or the 8:30-10:00 timeframe, or anytime in the morning. Some people "need" to play early, or around a certain time, and others just want to be able to show up 10 minutes before their time (and not what turns out to be 1.5 hours before, when they could have been getting some other things done).

Anyone have any thoughts on the matter? Opinions about/tweaks to my proposed system? Any feedback is appreciated.


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#2 Hateto3Putt

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 08:58 AM

 KMeloney, on 08 June 2018 - 08:24 AM, said:


So, how do you institute tee times in an equitable, agreeable manner at a club that never had them? I know tee times are never going sit well with the "everyone knows that my crew always tees off at 7:45 on Saturdays" crowd and the like, but something needs to be done to thin the herd and keep a million people from milling around the first tee in fear of being leap-frogged.


It's not unusual for clubs to have open tee times EXCEPT on weekend mornings.  Calls start Wednesday at noon.

The regulars want their regular slot? Better call first.

Yeah, they may initially feel violated, but, times change.

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#3 dwboston

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 09:10 AM

My club went to an online system a couple of years ago.  Saturday times open on Wednesday at 7:00 a.m., Sunday times on Thursday at 7:00 a.m.  We also do split tees between 7:45-8:30 on weekend mornings, with a gap blocked off from 9:42-10:36 for the crossover times.  It works pretty well, but you have to be right on the site just before 7:00 to get a desirable time.  Saturdays definitely fill up faster than Sundays.
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#4 davep043

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 09:20 AM

I know there are clubs in my area that have a really high demand on weekends, and they do use some kind of lottery to allocate those times.  I know other clubs that do split tees, in order to get the maximum number of players out.  To me, there always seem to be issues with a quick first group having to wait for a long time to make the turn.  No matter what route your club chooses, someone is going to be pissed off.  Personally, like knowing when my tee time is, and planning my day around it.

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#5 dwboston

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 09:47 AM

 davep043, on 08 June 2018 - 09:20 AM, said:

I know there are clubs in my area that have a really high demand on weekends, and they do use some kind of lottery to allocate those times.  I know other clubs that do split tees, in order to get the maximum number of players out.  To me, there always seem to be issues with a quick first group having to wait for a long time to make the turn.  No matter what route your club chooses, someone is going to be pissed off.  Personally, like knowing when my tee time is, and planning my day around it.

Our first time is at 7:00 on the weekends, so there are 5 slots open for the quick first groups that just want to get out and be done fast.  First tee time off 10 isn't until 7:45, so unless it's a single going off one at 7:00, they should have 2.5-3 holes open in front of them when they hit the turn.

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#6 deadsolid...shank

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 09:51 AM

I honestly don’t know what our club does. Or even if it is an issue.

We always play at 11:00 and it seems to be about perfect.

But I would think the fairest way is by lottery.
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#7 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:03 AM

Thanks for the replies so far.

Whereas it's not an entirely different issue, let's treat the putting-groups-off-of-#10 as a separate issue for the purposes of this discussion. That can really be a disaster unto itself.

HateTo3Putt & dwboston -- My lottery/random draw assignment system would [seek to] eliminate the "need to call/sign-up first" BS. If the same guys just happen to get the tee time they want each week because they were supposedly the quickest to sign up, it's going to cause people to believe that they're actually gaming the system/getting help from someone. I'm trying to avoid that situation/the appearance of that situation. I'm also trying to avoid having to try to be the first one to sign up exactly when the sign-up opens.

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#8 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:07 AM

 deadsolid...shank, on 08 June 2018 - 09:51 AM, said:

I honestly don’t know what our club does. Or even if it is an issue.

We always play at 11:00 and it seems to be about perfect.

But I would think the fairest way is by lottery.

Funny that you say that, because there's always this crush of people in the early hours, and then very few people lined up after the crush. Having some system in place that covers the earlier times should also cause people to more readily consider playing later,especially if they just don't feel like dealing with the tee times system. If more people resigned themselves to playing later, it would alleviate a lot of the issues.

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#9 fawley

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:13 AM

OP, how many golf members do you have at your club?

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#10 Bobalu

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:15 AM

OP, where are you located? Never heard of such a system before.


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#11 dwboston

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:18 AM

View PostKMeloney, on 08 June 2018 - 10:03 AM, said:

Thanks for the replies so far.

Whereas it's not an entirely different issue, let's treat the putting-groups-off-of-#10 as a separate issue for the purposes of this discussion. That can really be a disaster unto itself.

HateTo3Putt & dwboston -- My lottery/random draw assignment system would [seek to] eliminate the "need to call/sign-up first" BS. If the same guys just happen to get the tee time they want each week because they were supposedly the quickest to sign up, it's going to cause people to believe that they're actually gaming the system/getting help from someone. I'm trying to avoid that situation/the appearance of that situation. I'm also trying to avoid having to try to be the first one to sign up exactly when the sign-up opens.

There's no gaming of the online system.  Years ago when we first joined there were the same groups with the same times every week - that was "fine" when there were 175 golf members, but now there are 325-350.  There were all kinds of shenanigans going on back then - my name was "erased" from the hand written tee sheet a couple of times, or "preferred" groups/members would just get inserted whether they had a time or not.  When the head pro left and we got a new one, everything became more equitable.  The biggest problem recently was husband/wife golf members making separate tee times during the prime window on the weekends.  I think that got fixed somehow with a primary member designation for golf purposes, and only one tee time per family allowed to be made during the weekend morning window.  The online system can be a pain, but it's mostly fair.

Edited by dwboston, 08 June 2018 - 10:20 AM.

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#12 larrybud

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:22 AM

Why reinvent the wheel?  Thousands of golf courses have online tee time systems, as well as the ability to call the clubhouse for those who are computer illiterate.  What's the big deal about getting tee times?

What you SHOULD do is figure out what the proper tee time interval is.  Pope of Slope says 10 minutes

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Improper tee times will cause bottlenecks and slow play.  Jam too many people on the course at once and things slow down, just like jamming too many cars on the highway will slow things down.

Edited by larrybud, 08 June 2018 - 10:23 AM.


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#13 andrue

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:31 AM

We have a booking system (online or phone) but it's not compulsory. If someone wants to tee off at a particular time they have to book it, otherwise they go when it's free. Some days there are block bookings (senior's morning, weekly official comp) but it's never been a problem for me. I usually book a time a couple of days before but often arrive early and if there's a gap I go. The online system makes it easy to see who else is booked so I can avoid playing solitary golf behind a block society booking. The only issue I have is that the tee slots are 8 minutes long. If the course is busy that can cause it to back up a bit.

But basically you go to the online system a few days before (I think actually you can book up to two weeks in advance) and pick a tee time. Doesn't seem like any reason to get excited about it :-/

Edited by andrue, 08 June 2018 - 10:34 AM.

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#14 third-times-a-charm

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:32 AM

Most private courses have MEMBERS ONLY tee time blocks, and then resort guests/others can get tee times mixed in with members after that.
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#15 HatsForBats

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:33 AM

Assigning tee times randomly for such a large amount of time sounds like a nightmare from your end as well as the players. What happens when the group that is randomly assigned to 10:30 has players that can't play because that is too late. Or conversely they get assigned the first tee time and have players that can't play that early? You have to manage and re-arrange all of this which is going to take a considerable amount of time and stress.

I would strongly suggest an online system where the players assign their own tee time. Open up the slots 2 weeks in advance and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe also add a limited number of 9-hole rounds, starting on the back 9, for the earliest tee times.

Edited by HatsForBats, 08 June 2018 - 10:35 AM.


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#16 me05501

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:37 AM

The potential downside of an electronic system is that multiple people from the same foursome might put in for tee times, agreeing among themselves to use the best time from the choices they created with multiple reservations. This could create a delay of a day or two while they discuss their options and (hopefully) cancel the extra slots so others can claim them. I assume there are some workarounds for this, but I'm not sure what they'd be.

In a club environment, I can imagine some sort of tiered permissioning to recognize long-term members with long-standing start times. If someone has been paying dues for thirty years and has gone off at 7:45am every Saturday for decades, that should be recognized somehow. Maybe allow them to make their reservations a day earlier or something.

Another idea would be to auction off a few specific times throughout the morning block, maybe the top and bottom of the hour tee times. Allow members who play every weekend to bid on those times. Let those few slots be like securities that can be sold or traded. Maybe the money paid for the slots could be held by the club as equity, or recognized with pro shop or food and beverage credits. Just brainstorming here.

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#17 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:43 AM

View Postfawley, on 08 June 2018 - 10:13 AM, said:

OP, how many golf members do you have at your club?

@ 320 Bonholders, and then a whole bunch of Intermediate (an age-based category) members who are allowed to play whenever as well.

View PostBobalu, on 08 June 2018 - 10:15 AM, said:

OP, where are you located? Never heard of such a system before.

Outside of Philly in Delaware County, PA.

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#18 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:45 AM

View Postdwboston, on 08 June 2018 - 10:18 AM, said:

View PostKMeloney, on 08 June 2018 - 10:03 AM, said:

Thanks for the replies so far.

Whereas it's not an entirely different issue, let's treat the putting-groups-off-of-#10 as a separate issue for the purposes of this discussion. That can really be a disaster unto itself.

HateTo3Putt & dwboston -- My lottery/random draw assignment system would [seek to] eliminate the "need to call/sign-up first" BS. If the same guys just happen to get the tee time they want each week because they were supposedly the quickest to sign up, it's going to cause people to believe that they're actually gaming the system/getting help from someone. I'm trying to avoid that situation/the appearance of that situation. I'm also trying to avoid having to try to be the first one to sign up exactly when the sign-up opens.

There's no gaming of the online system.  Years ago when we first joined there were the same groups with the same times every week - that was "fine" when there were 175 golf members, but now there are 325-350.  There were all kinds of shenanigans going on back then - my name was "erased" from the hand written tee sheet a couple of times, or "preferred" groups/members would just get inserted whether they had a time or not.  When the head pro left and we got a new one, everything became more equitable.  The biggest problem recently was husband/wife golf members making separate tee times during the prime window on the weekends.  I think that got fixed somehow with a primary member designation for golf purposes, and only one tee time per family allowed to be made during the weekend morning window.  The online system can be a pain, but it's mostly fair.

We've suspected folks of the exact same things. We also just got a new head pro, and everyone is very optimistic that he'll remedy nagging issues. But he also isn't inclined to implement a tee time system if it doesn't come from the membership/Golf Committee.

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#19 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:57 AM

View Postlarrybud, on 08 June 2018 - 10:22 AM, said:

Why reinvent the wheel?  Thousands of golf courses have online tee time systems, as well as the ability to call the clubhouse for those who are computer illiterate.  What's the big deal about getting tee times?

What you SHOULD do is figure out what the proper tee time interval is.  Pope of Slope says 10 minutes

https://operationsro...se-bottlenecks/

Improper tee times will cause bottlenecks and slow play.  Jam too many people on the course at once and things slow down, just like jamming too many cars on the highway will slow things down.

Again, pace-of-play, intervals, and jamming up the course are no longer problems. The problem is the slew of issues created when a bunch of people show up to play at the same time, don't get off until much later than they had hoped, and maybe suspect shenanigans as part of why they didn't get off in a timely manner. Even if they don't suspect shenanigans, they don't appreciate having to stand around waiting.

To many of the people not happy with the current situation, it's not about not getting off at 8:30 like they had hoped; it's about the interval of time spent waiting to be allowed off and not being able to plan for it. In other words, if you tell me ahead of time I'll be going off at 9:45, then I have the option of sleeping in or going to Home Depot first ("...or maybe Bed, Bath, and Beyond... I don't know...I don't know if there'll be enough time") and/or arriving 10 minutes before my tee time.

Once on the course, it's all good.

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#20 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 11:07 AM

View PostHatsForBats, on 08 June 2018 - 10:33 AM, said:

Assigning tee times randomly for such a large amount of time sounds like a nightmare from your end as well as the players. What happens when the group that is randomly assigned to 10:30 has players that can't play because that is too late. Or conversely they get assigned the first tee time and have players that can't play that early? You have to manage and re-arrange all of this which is going to take a considerable amount of time and stress.

Well, it's arguably a nightmare to some now, so...

To answer your questions, if 10:30 is too late, then you put your foursome in for a specific hour (or however long) window. So, you say you want in for the 7:30-830 window, and otherwise you're out. After all, if you show up (now) nice and early, but others have shown up even earlier, then there's no guarantee you're getting off when you wanted anyway. At least this way you could ask for a window and know ahead of time whether you're good to go in that window or not. Same applies for the too-early scenario.

This is about people KNOWING ahead of time when they will be able to tee off. Then they can plan accordingly.

Quote

I would strongly suggest an online system where the players assign their own tee time. Open up the slots 2 weeks in advance and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe also add a limited number of 9-hole rounds, starting on the back 9, for the earliest tee times.

I don't like the idea of tee times that need to be set up two weeks in advance. Not at all. Not at your own club.


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#21 KMeloney

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 11:20 AM

View Postme05501, on 08 June 2018 - 10:37 AM, said:

The potential downside of an electronic system is that multiple people from the same foursome might put in for tee times, agreeing among themselves to use the best time from the choices they created with multiple reservations. This could create a delay of a day or two while they discuss their options and (hopefully) cancel the extra slots so others can claim them. I assume there are some workarounds for this, but I'm not sure what they'd be.

This would be forbidden. There'd be sanctions against people doing this. Seems to me it would be pretty easy to determine if folks were doing this.

Quote

In a club environment, I can imagine some sort of tiered permissioning to recognize long-term members with long-standing start times. If someone has been paying dues for thirty years and has gone off at 7:45am every Saturday for decades, that should be recognized somehow. Maybe allow them to make their reservations a day earlier or something.

Another idea would be to auction off a few specific times throughout the morning block, maybe the top and bottom of the hour tee times. Allow members who play every weekend to bid on those times. Let those few slots be like securities that can be sold or traded. Maybe the money paid for the slots could be held by the club as equity, or recognized with pro shop or food and beverage credits. Just brainstorming here.

I'd hope not to avoid going any kind of seniority or pay-to-play route, but I appreciate the thoughts.

Another thing I should add here is that the new pro has opened the course on the weekends a half-hour earlier, and that half hour is essentially open to twosomes and known fast foursomes. These groups are also sent out at tighter intervals. Apparently this has worked out really well and has helped to alleviate SOME of the morning crush.

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#22 HatsForBats

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 01:35 PM

View PostKMeloney, on 08 June 2018 - 11:07 AM, said:

View PostHatsForBats, on 08 June 2018 - 10:33 AM, said:

Assigning tee times randomly for such a large amount of time sounds like a nightmare from your end as well as the players. What happens when the group that is randomly assigned to 10:30 has players that can't play because that is too late. Or conversely they get assigned the first tee time and have players that can't play that early? You have to manage and re-arrange all of this which is going to take a considerable amount of time and stress.

Well, it's arguably a nightmare to some now, so...

To answer your questions, if 10:30 is too late, then you put your foursome in for a specific hour (or however long) window. So, you say you want in for the 7:30-830 window, and otherwise you're out. After all, if you show up (now) nice and early, but others have shown up even earlier, then there's no guarantee you're getting off when you wanted anyway. At least this way you could ask for a window and know ahead of time whether you're good to go in that window or not. Same applies for the too-early scenario.

This is about people KNOWING ahead of time when they will be able to tee off. Then they can plan accordingly.

Quote

I would strongly suggest an online system where the players assign their own tee time. Open up the slots 2 weeks in advance and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe also add a limited number of 9-hole rounds, starting on the back 9, for the earliest tee times.

I don't like the idea of tee times that need to be set up two weeks in advance. Not at all. Not at your own club.

Yes, I can see why it would be a nightmare for some. I wouldn't wait around that long very often if at all. What I am trying to suggest is saving yourself/staff from the nightmare of administering a system where you have to always structure the tee times. Understood about not liking 2 weeks in advance to make tee times. I can see that. I would think you would have the ability to make it any number of days in advance with a simple setting.

My club does not have tee times which has worked out well for a long time. They have a large number of weekend morning events so I haven't heard much grumbling about needing weekend morning tee times... yet.

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#23 andrue

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 01:37 PM

View PostKMeloney, on 08 June 2018 - 10:57 AM, said:

it's about the interval of time spent waiting to be allowed off and not being able to plan for it. In other words, if you tell me ahead of time I'll be going off at 9:45
Yeah, well in my experience most people are just bad at time keeping. Tell ten people to meet you at 10am and I bet eight of them will be anything up to ten minutes late. One of them will be on time and another will be ten minutes early. I'm the early guy :)

I've never understood why so many people struggle to be where they should be and start doing what they should do at a specific time.

Now dates - that's a whole other thing. I'm great at planning my life but ask me about something that happened more than a year ago and I'm struggling. Not with remembering the event but the date will escape me. Even now I'd have to struggle to remember how long I've owned my car or how long I've been in my current job. But you invite me to a party at your house and I'll be the awkward sod ringing the doorbell while you're still arranging the furniture :)
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#24 raynorfan1

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 01:58 PM

I think you're better off managing the demand curve than trying to allocate high demand in a regulatory framework. There are a few ways you can do this:

(1) Set aside the first hour or two for two-balls only. This means that the guys who really want to get at it and back home by a reasonable time will jump into line for those spots, and you set a pretty brisk pace of play out of the gate.

(2) Require caddies (if you have them) on weekend mornings. The incremental cost of the caddies will convince enough people to push their round later in the day.

(3) Increase the dues and have fewer members...

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#25 masamitsu

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 02:06 PM

We're a bit lucky as we have 27 holes.  With this we have a lottery and do split tees as well.

The only issue is that sometimes we're the first out and close the gap too quickly on the split tee.

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#26 DeeSee

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 06:58 AM

Ours are 8 mins apart, bookable 30 days in advance, 1st tee start only, a no show or reserving times for the sake of it was seen as bad etiquette.

Only difference is a couple of roll ups during the week so you can turn up without a tee time and "balls" are drawn from a hat to see who goes out with who.

Competitions are drawn, but you can say early morning/late morning midday etc..

Old club was 1st and 10th start, 12 min intervals, game in play (through 9) has priority to play through on the 1st/10th tee.

Both work well
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#27 cristphoto

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 07:24 AM

View PostHateto3Putt, on 08 June 2018 - 08:58 AM, said:

View PostKMeloney, on 08 June 2018 - 08:24 AM, said:


So, how do you institute tee times in an equitable, agreeable manner at a club that never had them? I know tee times are never going sit well with the "everyone knows that my crew always tees off at 7:45 on Saturdays" crowd and the like, but something needs to be done to thin the herd and keep a million people from milling around the first tee in fear of being leap-frogged.


It's not unusual for clubs to have open tee times EXCEPT on weekend mornings.  Calls start Wednesday at noon.

The regulars want their regular slot? Better call first.

Yeah, they may initially feel violated, but, times change.

That is how our club works with one exception. The members of the board (8) have two slots reserved for them. They get to call in a day early to reserve a time. If they donít call in by the time members start calling in, they get in line with everyone else. No problems.

Edited by cristphoto, 09 June 2018 - 07:25 AM.


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#28 cherokee8215

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 07:56 AM

The Foretees online tee time system can handle this. You set it up as a lottery for weekend morning times. Players submit their names, choice of time, allowable variation from that time (I. e. half hour before or after 9:02am), and at a given point (say, Thursday before a Saturday) the program assigns the times and emails everyone the results. Any remaining open times at that point can be taken by anyone either in advance or as walk-ups. I believe it does the selection in such a manner that if one person or group does not get their preferred time several occasions in a row, the system gives them additional weight towards being selected for it in the future.

In 2018, showing up to play Saturday morning and having no idea if I was going to be finished at noon or 2:30pm would drive me nuts if I had other things I needed to do that day. That system is a relic from the era when dad would spend all day at the club drinking and playing cards after his round, and had no other weekend responsibilities. Online tee time system also lets you see when the notoriously slow groups are playing so you can avoid them.

OP sounds like he's in a Philly GAP area club, lots of other clubs in GAP are using Foretees, so perhaps his staff or board could ask around for the experiences of others.

I was a member of a club that did not take weekend tee times until 10am or later. The idea was you could just show up and get a game with whomever was there, or your foursome could just show up and go when the tee was open. Interestingly there wasn't a ton of play before 10, but most of the tee times between 10 and 11 (the earliest you could reserve) would be pretty full. I think people just want to have an idea of when they can tee off and be finished without wasting a lot of time. Plus some socially awkward folks probably want to know who they will be playing with ahead of time.

Edited by cherokee8215, 09 June 2018 - 08:01 AM.


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#29 Stetson

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 08:35 AM

Auction them off!  Club gets revenue from the auction and there are few things more equitable.  Winner of the 9am slot gets first opportunity to book that tee time for up to 1 year, if he has not booked within 72 hours of said slot than it goes on the sheet as open for whomever request it

Also, I love the split teeís approach, the most valuable tee times in Golf are from 8-10 so why not double them up?  10 minute intervals, 24 groups out on the course... start everyone else off of the 1st tee at 12:15 for those that are not there for the morning wave

Edited by Stetson, 09 June 2018 - 08:44 AM.

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#30 golfandfishing

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 01:45 PM

View PostStetson, on 09 June 2018 - 08:35 AM, said:

Auction them off!  Club gets revenue from the auction and there are few things more equitable.  Winner of the 9am slot gets first opportunity to book that tee time for up to 1 year, if he has not booked within 72 hours of said slot than it goes on the sheet as open for whomever request it

Also, I love the split teeís approach, the most valuable tee times in Golf are from 8-10 so why not double them up?  10 minute intervals, 24 groups out on the course... start everyone else off of the 1st tee at 12:15 for those that are not there for the morning wave

Wait wait wait. In another thread you were entrenched on members being ripped off by a money grabbing club that charges for players to ride in carts they donít own or pay trail fees for but you think tee times should cost members extra?

How do you reconcile these two very contradictory philosophies in your mind?


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