Club leaders are constantly and consistently asking their members to introduce the Club to their friends and/or business associates. That makes total sense. The members are doing you an enormous favor by bringing guests, potential members, and walking/talking billboards out to the Club.
Intuitively, one of the best ways for your golfing members to introduce the Club to members of the community is through an invitation to play golf. Alternatively, one of the best ways to have members NOT invite a friend or business associate to play golf is to overcharge them for that privilege. Charging exorbitant guest green fees is counter intuitive and counter-productive to the request you have made of the members.
When a member brings a ‘local guest’ out to the Club the guest green fee charged to the member should be viewed as a benefit of being a member and not as a considerable profit source for the Club. In other words, “quit gouging the members” with ridiculously high green fees when they want to introduce their club to their friends.
Your members could justify an initiation fee, monthly dues, restaurant/golf club usage requirements, etc… for themselves, but shelling out $300 to have their friends play a round of golf with you quickly ends after the first or second time. Make it reasonable and they will bring more guests.
Private golf clubs and private golf and country clubs, unfortunately, do not tend to take a very gracious or generous approach to their pricing strategies for guest green fees. Profit should not be the motivation when pricing guest green fees. The main motivation of guest fee pricing should be for more members to bring more guests because of the generous pricing strategy offered to the members by the club.
As a point of clarification, I am discussing the concept of an “accompanied guest,” not a member calling the Club to get “4 friends on the golf course” without the member being in the group or on the grounds. An “unaccompanied” guest green fee should be similar in price to a reciprocal guest fee charged to someone playing your club from another private club.
Here are 3 recommendations to update your Guest Fees:
Clubs should consider a $25 to $50 guest fee rate. Consistently I see guest fees range from $75 to $125 nationwide and these are too high. You are better to have many more guests brought out to the club because of lower guest fees than less guests because of punitive guest fee pricing.
Restrict guest play to non-busy days, including weekends. If you are going to offer a gracious and welcoming guest fee structure, the membership will understand if there are restrictions to bringing guests on some of the busiest days at the club.
There should be a limit of 2 to 3 rounds of golf per calendar year. No clubs are advocates of ‘perpetual guests’. No matter the price of guest fees, allowing a non-member to play excessive golf as a guest substantially lowers the benefits of membership for all your other members.
Members should not have to pay a premium to introduce, and to a certain extent, showcase the magnificence of being a member at your club. You will quickly be rewarded and receive a considerable amount of respect by lowering the fees to ‘showcase your club’ to their friends, family and business associates.