Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) Vice-President David Townend has called on golf clubs in the region to avoid becoming embroiled in a price war on green fees when courses are re-opened in the weeks and months ahead. Should clubs reduce their green fee? And at what cost?
“If I look into a crystal ball, I hope that everybody who is a golfer is anxious to get back out on the course once they can,” said Townend, who also acts as General Manager at Thailand’s Amata Spring Country Club and is Founder and Managing Director of Azalea Hospitality.
Golf is a great sport, especially during the Covid 19 pandemic, as it allows small groups to get out into the fresh air and exercise by walking around the 18 holes.
Townend said: “I’d like to see golf courses encourage play as much as possible – but try not to do that through discounting.
“I don’t think that’s going to be the stimulus to get golfers back on the golf course. Motivate them through other ways, like upselling and offering other benefits to the facility. That may be a better way than reducing prices.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen this (discounting) in previous crises that have happened in Asia. We’ve seen that a lot of courses have spiraled down because they quickly went to the discounting model thinking it would drive more players through the door. But then it’s very hard to increase your price once you’ve reduced it.”
According to Townend, the golf industry can learn from how hotels are dealing with the situation brought on by Covid-19. If golf clubs reduce their green fee then they risk this impacting on their reputation.
He said: “When things started to slow down during March, I noticed that hotels retained their prices. They didn’t go into a price war with each other because I think they realised that there’s no point fighting for a small handful of customers. Still, try and deliver the same level of experience.
“Fingers crossed that straight after golf courses start opening, people will be lining up to play. But don’t take it as a method to try and discount to get them to your golf course.”