Nov 24th, 2019
GolfNow takeover TeeOff
Good for golf or just golfers?
GolfNow the biggest online tee time agency in the golf industry has grabbed an even bigger share of the market following the acquisition of EZLinks Golf by GolfNow owner, NBC Sports Group. Part of the EZLinks Golf portfolio is the online tee time booking platform TeeOff. So, what does this consolidation signal to the golf industry?
The merger of GolfNow and TeeOff – the two biggest third-party booking engines in the game – gives NBC Sports Group control of a vast majority of the online tee time inventory, particularly in the USA, where some commentators put the market share at somewhere near 90%.
Although the operators will argue that their services benefit the ordinary golfer offering simpler access to more golf courses the jury is out whether they will eventually benefit the golf courses themselves.
“Our strategy is to make golf more accessible, simpler and more enjoyable to play by using tech and services that help better connect golfers and golf courses,” said Jeff Foster, senior vice president, GolfNow and Emerging Businesses.
However, the entry of these ‘disruptor’ platforms has shifted the power away from the courses themselves to the technology providers. As the likes of GolfNow develop their platforms further and take over the role of marketeers there is going to be an inevitable push toward discounting and doing what’s best for the intermediaries rather than the courses and operators.
One can look to other industries such as flower delivery and the power of the likes of FTD and 1-800 Flowers in the US and Interflora in the UK. The dawn of the internet drove the balance of power in the direction of the flower networks and the margins for the poor local florist were gradually squeezed as discounting and other costs were foisted upon them.
We welcome services that make golf more accessible and if they assist in the survival of more golf courses then that has to be a good thing. However, we preach caution as handing over power over those tee-times may ultimately end up hurting that bottom line.
Also, who is policing the standard of golfers that turn up for a round having booked online? It may well open up golf courses to more players but it could have a detrimental impact on the speed of play. Friends of GolfPunk recently abandoned a round at a South London club when it took them three hours to reach the turn!
And another thing...