Rather than pay a traditional flat green fee, golfers at The Lodge of Four Seasons—at specific times of the year—pay only for time spent playing at the Lake Ozark, Missouri, resort.
Golfers are charged an hourly rate, sparing those with precious time from paying a full green fee. The price structure better matches the resort’s unique constituencies.
“We’ve thought about doing this for several years,” says golf director Matthew Tausig. “We started it inadvertently.”
That’s when two men insisted on playing despite head pro Chris Lash’s gloomy radar screen’s indication they probably wouldn’t play nine holes. So, instead of the $39, 18-hole winter rate, Lash only charged them $10 an hour (based on $39 divided by roughly four holes an hour) because one hour’s worth seemed optimistic.
“They only got in three or four holes but were thrilled with only being charged $10,” Tausig recalls. “Its popularity grew, so we extended it into this spring and summer, and we’re rolling with it.”
Paying for just enough time to play a few holes fits The Lodge’s customer base.
“Our hotel has many meeting attendees who have an hour or two to spare between meetings,” Tausig explains. “We also have guys who drive here from work, and dads bring their kids and play for one hour. There was a lot behind it for people who don’t have lots of time or money.”
Fast players love when The Lodge has early-morning tee times available. “We’ve had guys play super fast for $17 or $18 because they played in under two hours,” Tausig notes.
However, The Lodge won’t book hourly golf in advance.
“We’re very honest with people in letting them know we’re not offering it today because we’re too busy, or we’re offering it today but only from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.,” Tausig says.
“Then we don’t run into problems. If we’re not too busy we’ll offer hourly golf, but we ask them first if their intent is to play very fast or is it because they have limited time? If their intent is to play fast, we won’t allow it for safety reasons if there’s a bit of play scheduled.”