Fergus Bisset and Jezz Ellwood debate on whether online tee booking companies are good for the game

Debate: Are Online Tee Booking Companies Good For Golf?

Fergus Bisset and Jezz Ellwood debate on whether online tee booking companies are good for the game – let us know your views on Facebook and Twitter.

Fergus Bisset says -Yes

The world has changed. Thirty years ago, only a tiny percentage of the population was aware of, let alone using, the internet.

Banking was done in branches and holidays were booked at travel agents. Golf outings were organised directly, over the phone, with facilities.

Today, people expect everything to be possible via the net, and it pretty much is. From work to leisure, we plan and facilitate actions via the internet. It’s faster and more convenient and it offers us greater choice than before.

Golf can’t hide from these changes.

The industry must recognise the level and variety of opportunity each individual now has when it comes to filling their leisure time.

Golf clubs and facilities must strive to compete for a share. To succeed, golf must seem accessible, affordable and easily organised. Online tee-booking companies deliver this.

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On an online booking site, an itinerant golfer can stipulate where they want to play, at what time, for how many and how much.

With a few clicks, they can have a round organised. It’s done in seconds.

If such planning involved phoning around various pro shops trying to find free slots and haggle on prices, how many would simply look towards a more convenient leisure activity?

Yes, online booking companies take a cut and the fee to clubs is reduced. But the clubs still get something and these sites undeniably get people onto the fairways.

If the club does a good job, they will be back. With luck, the odd one may even consider membership.

Online booking sites keep golf accessible to people in today’s ever-more-immediate world. Without them, golf would become increasingly irrelevant to the modern audience.

Jeremy Ellwood says – No

You may or may not be signed up to one of golf’s major online tee-booking companies.

If you are, you probably think they are great, helping you find the cheapest courses to play in a way that just wasn’t possible in the past. They are, undoubtedly, great for the individual golfer for that very reason.

But are they good for golf overall?

I’m not so sure they are, and have debated this topic many times with various folk from within the golf industry.

The companies would argue that they are helping clubs to fill tee times they might not otherwise fill. The problem is, at what price?

My view is that, yes, it could be a good thing if there were greater pressure on tee times around the country so that green fees didn’t have to be cut to unviable levels to attract business.

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But in our current climate of over-supply, that simply isn’t the case, so clubs are competing with each other in a ‘no winners’ price war to get golfers through the door – often via green fees that aren’t really commercially viable if truth be told.

Last year, I remember looking for somewhere to play on a Sunday morning en route from Leeds to the Lake District.

Historically, it would have been quite difficult to get a game on a Sunday morning as a single visitor, so when I checked online, I was surprised to find I could pretty much pick and choose – I could have played any of 20 different golf courses along my route for £15 or even less.

Great for me? Of course – that can’t be argued.

Great for golf overall? I think not, because if clubs are unable to charge the green fees actually required to balance the books, their futures will become increasingly uncertain.

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