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Emerson: Small group debate quite complicated in Sun City


This letter seeks to address many of the recent comments regarding the topic.

While we all want to call the day prior and book a tee time for our desired course at the desired time, prime time demand simply does not allow this. The real problem statement in my mind — demand for tee times December through March exceed Recreation Centers of Sun City supply/capacity. 

There are four  problems usually rolled into one as people complain/state their case — small group bookings (those groups of more than 30), non-resident rates and access, off campus non-RCSC tournaments, and RCSC cardholder golf rates. Symbiotic. A change in one changes the others.

Full disclosure, I play in one group per week in this category on Saturdays, the rest of the week I compete for tee times, using the lottery like everyone else.

To address the small group booking issue at hand, looking at the calendar for Monday, Feb. 13 there are five small group bookings and one off-campus tournament for a total if six events. Friday there are five small group bookings, one Sun City Men’s Golf Association event and one off-campus tournament for seven events. Using six as the average on Mondays and Fridays for a duration of one hour, that consumes six 1-hour blocks across the five long courses. During prime time, there are five available hours per course across five long courses. That’s 25 hour blocks available.

That is 24% of available tee times used for small groups and off campus tournaments and SCMWGA events. That leaves the rest of the time available for the lottery run of approximately 75% tee times still available. These numbers do not address afternoon tee times and three short courses, which would drive that available percent number higher.

Now, for those who would assume that if the small group booking policy goes away that frees up all those tee times, that is a false assumption. Those players are still going to play and potentially clog up the lottery even more. You can make an argument that the small group booking policy and fee surcharge is not fair. I disagree. I view it as a way to streamline the process. 

The small group booking policy has a number of advantages — accommodates the high tempo golfers, actually streamlines the lottery process, provides additional revenue, has fewer no-shows than the usual group, providing more revenue and they buy more beer. 

There are certainly minor tweaks that can be made to the current process. All of the greens committees have been tasked to provide recommendations to Golf Advisory Committee in the April meeting.

This is clearly a solution in search of a problem. The problem is not small groups, the issue is demand vs. supply.

I recommend the board take the following actions and address the overall issue of demand outstripping supply:

  • Provide additional information and techniques to all members via websites and video on techniques for using the lottery.
  • Take those actions necessary to increase supply and or reduce demand.
  • Increase supply by purchasing more golf courses (Union Hills, Palmbrook and Sun City country clubs).
  • Reduce demand by increasing rates as necessary across the board.