Eye Opening Data on Golf Play

Dear Member,

What a Season! The demands on the Golf Course and Clubhouse have been greater than ever this year, the result of which is a growing angst amongst the membership.

Although the Clubhouse is about to burst at certain times, it is the difficulty in getting good tee times that is frustrating our members the most. You have probably heard some member grousing about his 3 PM tee time,  and blaming transfer members. No one playing 18 holes wants a 3 PM tee time, and that is understandable. However, I recently ran across some numbers that I think may really open your eyes on this issue.

The graph depicted here ( click on the link below) shows the 10 year trend of member play vs. transfer play vs. guest play, and the results are astonishing.

Rounds of Golf 2002-2012

Guest play is down, and member play is up. Transfer member play is the same each year. It has not grown, and it is not the reason members cannot get a good tee time.

When we start to look closer at this issue, we are finding that there are more members here than ever before. The Golf Pro estimates at least 25 members who have never been here in season are here now playing regular golf. Maybe they are retiring. Maybe the economy has loosened up enough so that they can finally spend more time here. Maybe the people buying units now are more full time residents. The answer to why will likely come out in a future report from the Planning and Research Committee. But I felt it was important to share some of this information so that at least we can understand what is happening here and not misdirect our frustrations.

Another very important piece of information is this: members do not compete against transfer members for tee times. Members compete with other members, and transfers compete against other transfers. Here is how this works: In March, 25% of the residents in Spring Run were transfer members. Armed with that information, the Pro Shop staff goes about blocking off 25%  of the tee times for transfer members. It is done in an orderly manner straight through the tee sheet with a transfer time available every 5th tee time. Once the tee sheet is open for tee time requests, member requests go in the member slots, and transfer requests fill the blocked off transfer times. Now…here is where some perceptions can change: not all tee times are filled. There are inevitably some later tee times that are not taken, and whoever calls in and requests a time is given what we have left over, with no regard to resident vs. transfer.  And this is how it should be. If there are empty times, we should fill them with paying customers, as the residents had the opportunity to get that time earlier. A member studying a particular day’s tee sheet might see that there are more transfers playing then there really are on the average.

There are certainly some other valid issues that have been raised recently,  and will be addressed before the start of the season next year. I will await the recommendations of the PAR committee on transfer member policy and their report on the impact of transfer memberships  to Spring Run sometime in the near future, but for now, I felt sharing this information would be beneficial to our Community.

Mike

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22 thoughts on “Eye Opening Data on Golf Play

  1. Mary Tousignant

    Thank you Joe for compiling these numbers and thank you Mike for making them available to SR members. Mary Tousignant

  2. Ellen Culver

    Mike, pretty hard to argue with your sensible and data backed explanation. What amazes me is the excellent condition of the golf course handling all the play! Thanks for the ‘eye opening data’.

  3. Erv Pesek Jr.

    Mike:

    Thanks for the info…numbers are always good to look at. If their were 25% transfer members in March, shouldn’t every 4th tee time be reserved for transfers (that would be 1 in 4 tee times is 25%). It says 1 in 5 tee times are reserved with transfer members (1 in 5 is 20%). Am I doing the math incorrectly? It does sound like a very fair system. The transfers are a great benefit to Spring Run and owner revenue. Keep up the great job.

    Erv Pesek Jr.

  4. Peter Perrin

    Hi Mike – I had to do a little work-around to look at the data (don’t quite know why), so it has taken me a few days to get around to it. Anyway, I thank you for making this information available. I agree with all the earlier comments and I suspect the “proportion” issue raised by Erv Pesek was just a minor calculation error. What I found striking in the numbers was that while the Member numbers have remained fairly consistent over the past decade (for their respective months – Jan in high 70% and Feb, Mar in high 60%), the Guest numbers appear to show a strong downward trend that is balanced by an upward trend in Transfer numbers (although there appears to be a slight anomaly in February). We can’t see whether the Guests are associated with Members or Transfers. If this were done, we would probably see a more consistent ratio between Members and Transfers. In any case, thanks for the data, as it shows strong and consistent member usage.

    Peter Perrin

  5. Mike Zigler

    You are correct that if the percentage of transfer members was 25%, it would be every 4th tee time. I typed 25% and the article posted before i realized that figure was still there. In reality, the transfer figures are around 19%, so the calculation of every 5th tee time works. Thank you for the feedback and observation.

  6. Larry Rose

    Mike,
    If we are striving to be the best bundled golf community as our mission statement claims, then once we accept the numbers you have released, we must look for solutions. When you have 880 units sharing 1 golf course you do not need a PHD to do the math. While we will never solve the problem short of buying a second golf course we have to look into making things better.
    For those of us who play golf regularly at Spring Run, we live and die by our Chelsea points. I have given up on bringing guests to the club because the additional points will impact my ability to get a starting time for 2 weeks. My guests will play at Bonita Bay or Verandah even if it costs me more. Why not allow each member to bring guests once a month (or once a season) without charging Chelsea points? I bet this would increase club revenue.
    How many times during the season would I have liked to go play 9 holes with my wife or neighbor late in the afternoon. It would have brought additional revenue to the club, but why would I want to do this if it costs be a full Chelsea point? Why not allow walk ups after say 4pm to go out and play if their is an open spot without assessing Chelsea points? These are times that would otherwise go unused.
    The number one priority talked about at last years focus groups was our golf course and our golf experience. Perhaps we can open a dialogue between our members and our board on ways to improve these areas.

    1. Mike Zigler

      Mr. Rose,

      You bring up some very good points, and i think your suggestions have a lot of merit. Remember, though, members compete against other members for tee times, and transfers compete against transfers. As you know, the issue of who does or doesnt get Chelsea points is extremely contentious, and most recommended changes over the years never made it past the golf committee. However, the eventual recommendations of the PAR committee might finally cause some guest-friendly changes to these policies.

      Thank you very much for your input

  7. Chuck Staro

    Mike: The theory regarding member usage versus transfer member usage you point may be what you are trying to achieve, however, in reality I and others do not believe that this is really what is happening. It is difficult to argue percentages and numbers without the benefit of the raw data. It would certainly be interesting to have access to the daily tee sheets for the months of February and March showing names and member numbers. I doubt, however, that this information would be made available.

    You mention that there are other issues involving the transfer member review that may be valid. I am happy to see that statement as I hope it has finally hit home with the leadership of Spring Run that changes are necessary in this area. Transfer fees, greens fees for transfer members that change during the course of the season and guest fees for members versus transfer members are just a few items that need review. With respect to transfer fees I think it is good to point out that while a transfer member pays I believe $225 at the beginning of their rental period to “get into the system” someone who first purchases pays $2500. I can accept that. Now after having lived in Spring Run for 8 years, as we have, we sell that property to upgrade and move to another within Spring Run we paid an additional $2500 for the very same purpose, “to get into the system”. I could rent for 20 years before equaling what we have paid “to get into the system”. To make matters worse the records now show us as owners since January 2012. One does not get any credit for living here since 2003, paying dues for 8 years, and spending money for golf and clubhouse activites.

    I do not have a problem with someone who buys a property and wants to rent it. I do have a problem if it is done at the expense of other owners who choose not to rent.The perception is rampant that policy has evolved which abrogates a responsibility to first the member. The PAR committee, by the way who is on it? has a large task ahead. I just hope they take their obligation serious.

    1. Mike Zigler

      Mr. Staro,

      I was hesitant to release this information prior to having the Planning Committee analyze it and provide their opinion…mainly for this reason: some people wouldnt believe it. And i am not sure why. Do you feel that management has something to gain by providing information that runs counter to what the members think is occuring? You used the word “perception” in the last paragraph. One of the aspects of my job is to provide information, good or bad, so that the membership is not just laboring under a perception, but that they understand what is really happening, and a solution can be developed.

      There are only 18 holes for 847 doors. If policies change and owners who rent their units sell to people who are full time owners, the problem didnt really go away.

      Now that you have purchased your second home in Spring Run in January, I see how it unfortunately shows that member number on that property as a member since Jan ’12. This is a software problem that we can rectify this summer as we replace our current accounting system with a much nicer (and less expensive!) software. You should get credit for investing significantly in the community for over 8 years.

      The PAR committee members are in the process of changing, but Ann Kalmey and Dennis Parrass have been charged with the task of dillegently reviewing all information and providing a true picture of the problem, along with recommendations for improving the situation. I think that you can feel confident that they will not take this task lightly. Finally, there is no factual information that i will not provide. There may be times when it might be premature to give out certain information as numbers could change or are not yet verified, but If any member at any time wishes to know something, i will happily provide it.

  8. Bernard DeAnnuntis

    Mike
    I am a transfer member and have been for 12 years now. My pet peeve is that when I call the day on which I plan to play and take a tee time that is open and would cost the club money if it were not used,I am still charged Chelsea points. My contention is that I did not use chelsea and I took what was available not what I asked for. I believe that a person who takes the open tee times that others have cancelled should be rewarded not punished for doing the club in general a favor. thank you for all your efforts.

  9. Carol Ficks

    Transfer members have always had the same rights and privileges of owners………….however, they were not always equal. This policy change occurred many years ago and, seemingly, could be changed again.

    Carol Ficks

  10. Chuck Staro

    Mike: The one area you neglected to comment on in your response was the wide variation in the transfer fee as outlined in my original post. Do you have an opinion on that or is that an area that will be reviewed by the two appointees and the PAR committee?

    1. Mike Zigler

      That will be reviewed by the PAR committee, with recommendations being made to the Board and/or Finance Committee. I will provide my input at that time.

      Opinions aside, we benchmark ourselves against other bundled golf clubs and adjust the fees charged according to our competition. The fees charged for resale and transfer fee in each club, while disparate, are generally in line with other communities. Of course, some are higher, and some are lower. Each club is different, so there is no correct figure or answer…we will just need to do what is in the best interest of Spring Run

  11. Vince Corso

    Mike,
    While using the ration of regular members to transfer members to block out tee times sounds like a fair method, I beg to differ. As you have stated, that method has regular members vying with each other for tee times and transfer members doing the same. That methodology then doesn’t consider the true Chelsea point comparisons between regular members and transfer members. Using this method a transfer member with more Chelsea points can still get a more desirable tee time than a regular member since they are not competing for the same time slots. Why not, at a minimum, have ALL members regardless if they are transfer or not in the same pool and then compete equally for tee times. I would also suggest that all transfer members be given an opening number of Chelsea points so that they do NOT have any advantage over our regular members. I understand that this was the method used in the past but was changed by someone recently allowing transfer members to start out with ZERO Chelsea points. Is this true and if so why was this changed?
    One more suggestion is that since we are competing with other communities in the area to keep Spring Run a desirable community to join or rent from, why don’t we do, and publish a study of just what the other communities do and see just how competitive we are. It’s one thing to be competitive; but it’s quite another to be the “low ball” option.

    Vince Corso

    1. Mike Zigler

      Mr. Corso,

      This issue is actually not that complicated. The Pro Shop staff goes down the tee sheet starting with the first tee time at 7:39 AM and counts off every 5th time for transfers (every 5th correlates to 20% transfers in the community in season. If there are less than 20%, we go every 6th tee time or more). It doesnt matter how few points any transfers have compared to owners. Transfers compete with transfers and owners compete with owners.

      Regarding the 2:51 PM tee time you were given by Chelsea for Friday April 6: Due to so many requests, we kept the sheet open to 4:11PM. That is 71 total possible tee times. Of that 71, six (6) of those tee times were taken by transfer members, and the rest by owners.

      Each year we canvass the surrounding communties to see what their fees are going to be so that our proposed fee changes will be in line. This year, I will be gathering a more complete survey of data from surrounding communities and presenting it to the committee to include as part of their report and recommendations.

      1. Vince Corso

        Mike,

        In your response to my comment you failed to answer my question asking if there were any changes made this season versus last season with regards to Transfer Member Chelsea points. Specifically, were Transfer Members given the same number of Chelsea points (if any at all) this season when they began their rental? I believe in past seasons Transfer Members were given a nominal number of Chelsea points when they began their rental, is this not true?

  12. Marty Lee

    I am refering to Mike’s reply to Mr. Corso. What if there are already 8 transfer members mixed into the first 4 tee times, does the 5th time still go to a transfer member? It looks to me like what Mike is saying the pro shop does is impossible because the transfer members are mixed throughout the tee sheet. I would think that it would have to be done by first determining how many transfer requests there are each day and then alloting tee times accordingly.

  13. Mike Zigler

    Mr Lee,

    Here is how Chelsea recognizes whether a foursome is either Owner or Transfer:

    4 Owners – Owner Time
    3 Owners/1 Transfer – Owner Time
    2 Owners/2 Transfers – Transfer Time
    1 Owner/3 Transfers – Transfer Time
    4 Transfers – Transfer Time

    The Pro Shop blocks off the times, and then the requests come in and are filled automatically according to the makeup of the foursome.

    Counting the half and half tee time as Transfer Time is an advantage for Owners.

    Mike

  14. Edson Taylor

    I hope the committee will consider the fact that many members are on boards and committees in Spring Run, and do not have the flexibility that the transfer members, who are not on any committees, have in scheduling tee times. Many times members have had to cancel later tee times because of meetings scheduled for the afternoons. The transfer member do not have this problem.

    I do not have an issue with transfer members getting their fair percentage of tee times, but I believe members should have priority for early tee times, and should not be penalized for participating in activities that helps their local community of Spring Run as a whole.

  15. Sandy Varnum

    Mike, I want to thank you for the time that you have spent responding to members questions. You have much on your plate with club operations as well as the upcoming clubhouse renovation. Your involvement in keeping members informed is admirable.

    The reality is that, for 3 months, we have too many golfers for anyone to get preferred tee times. The club has continued to review the system and I think it is about as fair as it can be.

    The solution, at this time, for those who want to play more golf in season is to play as a single (which is one of the reasons why transfer members are intermingled in the tee sheet), play at another course, or purchase a home and an equity membership in a low density community.

    On the upside, for those who are here for more than “season”, tee times are not a problem for 9 months of the year.

    Thank you again for your hard work and patience in attempting to keep members informed. I hope that members will use the resources available to them including this blog, the web site, and club connector, to keep themselves informed. Making assumptions not based on fact helps no one.

  16. Mike Zigler

    Mr. Corso,
    Yes, prior to 2010, Transfer Members were given the number of Chelsea points attributed to those that used that unit prior to their arrival. In 2010, the system was completely changed so that owners did not have to vie head to head with transfers. Tranfers do now start with zero points, but they are not competing directly for times with owners. They are competing amongst themselves for times. Certainly, the mere fact that we block off times and transfer members even get tee times in season does cause a shortage of times for owners, but this situation has been greatly improved from the Chelsea procedures of the past.

    I have posted a new blog specifically detailing the history of Chelsea changes through the present elsewhere in this site, and hopefully, this can answer any additional questions.

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