Kevin Fitzgerald from Southern California Golf Association
Episode 10

Kevin Fitzgerald from Southern California Golf Association

Mike Hendrix and Kevin Fitzgerald, the Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Southern California Golf Association have a conversation about golf in Los Angeles. They discuss the role of the advisory board for Los Angeles City Golf Courses and the intersection of golf and public policy. They also peer into the issue of reservation systems and online brokers in the golf industry and specifically the City of Los Angeles.

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Kevin Fitzgerald

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43min

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Description:

In this episode of the Tech Caddie podcast, Mike Hendrix and Kevin Fitzgerald, the Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Southern California Golf Association have a conversation about golf in Los Angeles. They discuss the role of the advisory board for Los Angeles City Golf Courses and the intersection of golf and public policy. They also peer into the issue of reservation systems and online brokers in the golf industry and specifically the City of Los Angeles. They highlight the high demand for golf in Los Angeles and the challenges of securing tee times. They explore potential policy changes and technological solutions to address these issues.

  • The advisory board for Los Angeles City Golf Courses serves as a platform for community input and recommendations on golf-related policies.
  • The high demand for golf in Los Angeles has led to challenges in securing tee times, especially during peak hours.
  • The existence of a gray market or secondary market for tee times, where entities buy and resell tee times at a markup, has raised concerns.
  • Policy changes, such as implementing non-refundable deposits for tee times, and technological solutions, like random release of tee times, are being considered to address the challenges in the golf reservation system.
  • Dave Fink posted a TikTok video exposing the tee time booking gray market.

Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Background

01:24 The Role of the Golf Advisory Committee

06:12 The Gray Market and Secondary Market

09:00 The Challenges of Golf in Los Angeles

13:55 The Player Card and Access to Tee Times

19:30 The Increase in Golf Participation and Revenue

30:43 The Transition to Foursomes and 10-Minute Tee Intervals

36:14 Policy Changes and Technological Solutions

41:28 The Role of the Golf Advisory Committee in Policy Making

42:53 The Importance of Golfers' Support for Golf Facilities

As Promised:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIDChw6PCUQ

https://www.golf.lacity.org/rules_regulations/#:~:text=City%20Golf%20facilities%20as%20a,golfers%2C%20visitors%2C%20and%20staff.

https://www.golf.lacity.org/golf_advisory_committee/

https://newfrontier.scga.org/about

https://www.classaction.org/media/lee-et-al-v-city-of-los-angeles.pdf

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Kevin Fitzgerald from Southern California Golf Association

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Kevin Fitzgerald

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Transcript:

So welcome to the Tech Caddie podcast that goes out to Kevin Fitzgerald and Kevin is in the public affairs team in the Southern California Golf Association. And because of Kevin's role there, he serves as the chair of the advisory board for Los Angeles City Golf Courses. I think Kevin, you can probably explain it better than me, but essentially that advisory board has a seat.

that's always going to be filled by someone from the Southern California Golf Association. But Kevin, why don't you explain exactly what your title is and your role and we'll kind of get into the topic of the day. Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on. And I am the Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Southern California Golf Association. Essentially, the Public Affairs Department works at the intersection of golf and public policy. And that is a...

There are a lot of intersections. So, um, this, this is one component of it. And I know we'll be talking quite a bit about reservation systems and online brokers and so forth. And, um, you know, you, you, you mentioned the LA city golf advisory committee. Essentially it is an advisory board. It's a subsidiary body. Um, the policy making body is the recreation and park board of commissioners and.

what that's within the executive branch of government in the city of Los Angeles. So the golf advisory committee is an opportunity for the community to vet ideas and make recommendations really part of the public stakeholder input process. So we work very closely with the golf division, which is within the department of recreation and parks and.

You know, what we'll talk, I'm sure much more about is the way the process works and this big issue that's been getting a lot of attention in the last couple of weeks. No, that's great. And, you know, listen, there's a lot of municipalities, I think, that don't even have a board like this. So on some level, it's actually great that Los Angeles, you know, has John Q. Public essentially is able to participate and have a voice.

you had shared with me previously, you know, you certainly, you guys certainly do not set policy, but it's nice. They let you weigh in on things. If an RFP is going to go out, you all might have a say in some things that are included in the RFP before it goes out, right? Or I know yesterday we talked about the strategic plan that global golf advisors had built for the city of Los Angeles. And you all had access to that. And I know everybody has access to it, but I think you may be.

had a little bit deeper role in pulling that together. And like he said, today we're here to talk about a lot of these reservation issues. But I think one thing that's really important to say really in defense of your technology provider who is, I shouldn't say your technology provider, the technology provider for the city of Los Angeles in defense of NBC Sports Next or Golf Now or however you refer to them.

This problem is not new. I mean, there is not, there are not enough holes of golf for the number of golfers that there are in Los Angeles. So it's always been very difficult to get a tee time. Maybe you could chime in on this, but I really, I say that in defense of golf now, because this is not a problem, at least in my opinion, that they've created. Absolutely. I mean, I think to take a step back from this entire issue, um,

LA is considered to be the worst place in the United States to be a golfer. There are more golfers chasing fewer holes here than anywhere else. And it's by a fairly wide margin. So and then to paint a little picture of what golf in Los Angeles looks like within the city, it's over four million residents. And essentially you have a few very high end private clubs and you have municipal golf. And so there are the

The daily fee golf course market has all but disappeared. There's one privately owned public golf course in the city of Los Angeles. And it just so happens that it's in a floodplain, a wash. You can't develop the land. So the game of golf is relying upon parks departments waking up and wanting to continue to provide golf as part of its menu of recreational offerings. If we want the game to exist where

and be available where the populations live, then we need to do everything we can to support these park systems because they are golf in a place like Los Angeles. Right, right. And so for people that don't know, although I think a lot of people in golf do know, for people that don't know, essentially what has happened is a gray market. And I use that word because I've spoken with other people in the industry that say it's really not a black market, Mike, because it's not there's nothing illegal happening.

you could call it a gray market, but a reseller market has essentially been exposed by an Instagram influencer, someone that plays a lot of golf in the LA area. And essentially it's been confirmed, right, Kevin, that yes, there are entities that are buying tee times and then reselling them at a large markup, sometimes as much as $40 or $50 per head. And that has essentially

validated a lot of public golfers opinions from over the years of why it's so hard to get a tee time. There's now a lot of people saying, I told you, there is something nefarious going on here. And maybe you can expand on that. Sure. I'll clarify one point. So I like your term that the gray market secondary market again, I mean, it's fascinating that we're in this situation where a secondary market exists. And I think it's important to point out.

why that is possible. The municipal system we're discussing, the LA City golf system, the greens fees are set well below market. And that's intentional. The mission of the Parks Department is to provide an affordable and accessible recreational opportunity. And so for the golf system to provide affordable and accessible golf. So, you know, obviously, if you had the, if greens fees were at market rates, then, you know, there wouldn't be a,

a great business opportunity in a secondary, you know, gray market. Let me just jump in just to make this clear for the listener. When we say they're not at market rates, that is another way of saying they are priced much lower than it is believed the market would pay for the tee time. That's really what we're saying, right? Is unlike a lot of other places in America, these tee times are priced significantly lower.

than what the market would be willing to bear. So. Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you. And I'll say that, you know, I think that's the mission of the Parks Department, but it's also political security for these golf courses because, you know, we've discussed this. We're involved with numerous save campaigns throughout Southern California. And, you know, golfers need to show up and make their voices heard and make sure that that

policymakers know that the community cares about the golf facilities that they have in their community. And these SAVE campaigns tend to be at golf courses where you can't get a tee time. It's too busy. So, you know, to the non -golfing world and to, you know, policymakers who may or might not be, you know, look negatively on golf, but certainly have other interests for the space.

You know, this is a very difficult moment for golf in Southern California, particularly places like Los Angeles. Not long ago, and we've been involved with this Sepulveda Basin Vision Plan, three of the LA City golf courses are in this basin, Sepulveda Basin. It's a floodplain behind a dam. And, you know, we were...

Basically, the opportunity to weigh in was distributed to the community and it started with, should we get rid of nine, 18 or 27 holes? There are 54 of the city's holes in this basin. Well, that was about a year ago and you couldn't get a tee time at these golf courses then. And so it really shows, I think it's an example of an opportunity here. So while many of the stories are somewhat negative that if you,

go down the road of what has become arguably a de facto greens fee increase because if you need to go to a concierge service in order to get a tee time and pay a premium for that, which is well above the set greens fees, you know, per the, per access to the golf course and under the parks department. You know, the positive of all of this is that there's a, it's obvious that we have too few holes, not,

not too many. So I think that's that's one unique opportunity of this moment is to showcase the fact that we actually that the golf courses are not underutilized. To go back to the your point about the gray or secondary market. Right now, and you brought up the legality, you one does not have to buy the tee time through the Parks Department. So when you when you reserve a tee time,

you don't, you haven't paid anything toward it. So I think to your point about the legality, if you were in fact, if had you purchased say a concert ticket and then you resell it in California, you're not able to resell that ticket without consent to the venue, say the artist, so on and so forth. But what is unique here is that you don't have any skin in the game yet. You've just reserved a tee time. And then what you described,

what really changed in the last couple of weeks was that there seemed to be what I would say was the first, you know, real evidence that this broker or secondary market existed. We've heard things like the following. Well, I know someone who called this number and got this tee time. They paid this. I think it's a broker and sent. I would say, well, give me the number. Like, I'd love to see this. I want to know more about this. I've never.

We never got past the point of hearsay. And so a couple of weeks ago, there was a post as you suggested that and it was clear on everyone's screen that there were it appeared that there were some tee times available. If you paid this essentially this third party broker a service charge. And so, you know, there are a lot of reasons why this is problematic, but

first and foremost, you know, the parks department does not permit that within their code of conduct. So while it may not be illegal, it's certainly against the code of conduct and they reserve the right to cancel your access, your player card access if you're, if you're taking a tee time, reserving it and then, and then selling it as a broker. Okay. So the code of conduct, is that something that we can find online? Do you know?

Absolutely. Sure. Okay. So we'll try to post that in the in the show notes. The code of cons. So people get so so that's interesting. You're saying if they really wanted to stick to the you know, letter of the law, so to speak, they could have these people from playing and I guess you had said to me in a previous conversation, they have suspended lots of different golfer cards. Explain the golfer card a little bit. That's the other thing I think that's a little confusing out of out of LA.

Sure. So in the LA city system, the tee times technically open nine days in advance at 6am if you have a player card. So the player card is $25. It's good for a year. And that what that allows is for someone to get access two days in advance of the general time that the tee times would become available. So really, so people for $25 a year, you can get premium access.

is essentially what you're what what that is. Exactly. Now, you know what, what some of the frustration has become that you can't get it. It's very difficult to get a tee time that you're looking for regardless. But it's it really doesn't matter if you in this in the sense that you if you have a player card, the incredible amount of demand for each tee time. It's it's really.

something to watch. If you log in at 5:59 AM, nine days in advance, and at six o 'clock you try to book a tee time, you'll see that every golf course is filled in a matter of seconds. Yeah. Well, let me ask you this, because I know you're going to come back on in another week because you guys have some meetings coming up. And I thought it would be really excellent to have you back on and maybe you could update us on what's happening.

But let me just throw this out there. Do you think there would be an appetite for 14 days in advance for an annual fee of $500? So pay a one -time fee of $500 and I'll give you 14 days in advance access. Is that something that you all would ever consider? You know, I think where we're on a bit of a collision course with these municipal systems is that political security component. So, you know, the...

there's good reason for these facilities to be concerned about the greens fees getting anywhere near market. That affordable and accessible model is what allows the policymakers to feel comfortable with the use of space for golf. If we were to go to a point where we see it become increasingly expensive to access the facilities,

You know, at some point, I don't know exactly where that tipping point is, but if too few can afford to access the park space, then I think the space will be used for another purpose. Understood. Let me just play devil's advocate for a second. So for $10 a week, that's 500 bucks a year for $10 a week, you could get added access. And because that revenue really doesn't have

any expense that comes with it or anything like that. In theory, the city could set it up that that revenue goes to support schools. And so now all of a sudden, a group of 11 % of our residents that play golf, a portion of them actually are supporting something that even more of our residents care about. That starts to maybe feel like a political win. But again, I'm just some...

bald guy that lives in Columbus, Ohio. So what do I know about Los Angeles? You know, it's a it's an excellent point. There are a lot of different models that you know, I think the fear within the department, I don't want to speak for the department. But I mean, I think there's always a fear that with each say, five to $10 that the Greens fee increases, you just price some percentage of the population out. So and at some point, I think, while there's there's a great story to be told that that there, there is revenue from the golf

uh, amenity and some of those dollars are first and foremost, the greens fee recovers the cost of providing the service plus capital reinvestment. Now at, at many times they, in, in many systems, they, they do generate some, some, some net profit beyond that cost recovery model, but that allows for more investment into the infrastructure. Some of it gets pooled somewhat into, um, you know, the, the parks budget. And so,

you know, the money has to be used to provide amenities the parks departments offer. And but primarily those fees are for the golf component. Each system is different. But essentially, I think you have an interesting idea. It's certainly a model that could work well. It just becomes a question of balance and ensuring that, you know, we would like anyone who has interest in playing.

that they have the opportunity to participate. Well, let's talk about that for a second. So you, I mean, you're a, you are a college golfer. You're an accomplished golfer. You, uh, seemingly you still love to play. And I'm guessing because you actually are on this LA advisory board, you really do live in or very close to Los Angeles. Is that, that be fair to say? Yes. So absolutely. So our office is in studio city. That's in the city of Los Angeles. We're very close to Griffith park.

and which you know many many listeners might might know if they've ever visited Los Angeles it's it's it's home to the Griffith Park golf complex which has 36 holes the Roosevelt nine nine hole golf course right across from the Greek theater and and and then a junior academy and a three -part golf course so it's a it's a large

park and we're our offices is very close to all of those facilities. Well, so Kevin, where do you play? Like how, you know, give the give the listener a feel. How hard is it to get a tee time? Where do you play? How often are you even able to play if the if the inventory is so scarce? Yeah, well, it's extremely difficult when you're someone like me looking for, you know, Saturday. I don't mind playing late in the day.

Um, so I, I, I play when and wherever I can. Um, and I, I do like to still play in a few tournaments here and there. So I would say, you know, half my rounds probably ended up being in a city championship or something. Um, but I, you know, that, and, and so, but yeah, it's, it's very difficult. Um, you, you can certainly get out as a single. It's very hard to reserve a foursome. Um, and, and then I will say that, uh, if you ask a golfer here, you know, they,

golfers also look for that cancellation window. So when you get close to the 24 hours, there are tee times that might pop up 25, 26 hours on occasion. You can't be particularly choosy about which golf course, but you know, there's some way to get out from time to time, especially if you're not looking for a foursome. So I don't want to say it's imp... It would be strange to say it's so busy, you can't play anymore. I mean, that doesn't make any sense.

Yeah, that's what Yogi Berra Yogi Berra used to say, nobody goes to that restaurant anymore, it's too busy. Exactly, exactly. I mean, but yeah, and I think, you know, you bring up again, it's an interesting concept, interesting model. And I think that you'll see what throughout Southern California that these systems are operated with, with different priorities. In general, they're focused on accessibility.

But there are various models in use. And some of the municipal systems are, you know, city of LA, it's, it's managed and, and all the maintenance is performed by city employees. And then in other systems, you have golf management companies, either with lease agreements or management agreements, let's talk about various models, but they're all in generally in sync with the idea that

you know, that the policymakers would like to ensure that their constituents have access to these these park spaces. So there is there's LA County. Is that correct? There's LA County and then there's LA City. And those really are two separate entities. Completely separate. And I think but I listen, I could be wrong. I think LA County is managed by American Golf, if I'm correct. Does that sound right?

So they have quite a few of the golf courses that they manage, but not the entire system. There are a number of different management companies system. Okay. Well, what I'm getting at, and let me just ask you to you mentioned that there's one privately owned public course in LA. Is that Angeles National or what is it is Angeles National? Okay. Used to be a customer of mine. That's why that's why I know. So, so okay, so what I'm interested in though is,

LA city runs their own golf courses. I think that's great. And then you've got some management companies, but there probably are different technology platforms being used. I mean, do you feel like, or do the golfers in general in the area feel like, oh, well that course uses that tech platform and it just works better or something, or it's just makes it, it's a better golfer experience. Or is that not on the board at all? What's the general notion there? Well, and it, you know, it,

we've seen a number of LA Times articles, this story about the gray market or secondary market, as you suggest. And, you know, it's certainly been a story that has proliferated around the country. It's just an interesting golf story, I suppose. But, you know, I don't know that the golfer knows, you know, the average golfer knows which golf course that they happen to be playing. I think,

They know they're playing golf and you know, by and large, I think the more avid golfers certainly understand it, but the average golfer who shows up at and just wants to play golf, I'm not sure that they're going to be particularly familiar with which system that they happen to be playing that day. Understood. Understood. Okay. Now, one of the takeaways again, and I think this is good for frankly, to memorialize and to be able to always refer back to.

there is no doubt in the last 14 days, the case has been made and it didn't have to be made by you guys. It didn't have to be made by Southern California Golf Association. The case has been made that there is a lot of demand for golf. It really would, it would not make a lot of sense to do away with golf or to start to read, you know, turn 18 whole golf courses into nine whole golf courses based on what's happened last 14 days. That would be, that'd be quite a stretch that that makes sense if you will.

Yes, I hope so. We're certainly interested in sharing that piece of the story. I mean, I think if you read, say, some of the stories that have been published, I think that component of incredible demand to supply is sort of lost in the story of broker activity. My greatest fear with all of this is that, you know, I don't think that there's a silver bullet from what I know at the moment. And I'm not

I don't pretend to be an expert in technology. So as you suggested, golf advisory committee, I work for the Southern California Golf Association. I happen to be on the golf advisory committee as one of 18 members. I'm currently the chair. I can't speak for the committee and what recommendations it might take, but based on the discussion that we had last week, I can say that some really interesting ideas were discussed. I think some of those changes that will...

you know, ultimately come from this interest and in trying to mitigate the problem. I think some are probably policy solutions and some are probably technological. Although again, I'm not sure that I can speak, you know, to get too into the weeds on that at this moment. I think a couple of the ideas that were discussed. When you, when you say policy, is that another word for pricing that, that, I mean, really, because.

We had another guest on earlier and we're going to put different voices together for this particular episode. We had another guest on earlier that said essentially like, yes, it seems like there you could get a win with some technology or you could make some level of improvement. But at the end of the day, some of this is just going to come down to pricing. Either you're going to raise the fees and lower the ability for a gray market to exist or you're not. And when I say you, I don't mean you, Kevin. I just, I mean the city overall.

So is policy somewhat of a synonym for pricing? It could be. I think I'll use one example of policy that was discussed, which was having some skin in the game. So as we said earlier, right now you reserve a time and you have until 24 hours in advance to cancel that time. One policy change would be a non -refundable deposit.

That is a policy change that I think is quite likely because ultimately there might be some way to cut into the market for the brokers. Now, some facilities are highly sought after, you know, fraction of the market rate. So I'm not sure that that would work necessarily at every golf course. Again, I don't know. At this point, we're going through the process. We're going to hear.

in the coming days, we're going to hear more from staff and there essentially what will happen is there will be another golf advisory committee meeting next week and staff is going to provide some recommendations and plan to have that public input process take place. The GAC, the golf advisory committee may well endorse what

they see in the staff report, they may add additional ideas or ask a lot of questions. Ultimately, the staff will take the report to the board and that is the policy making body. Now, when staff goes before the board, it's helpful to them if they can suggest that we've met with the golf community, we've had the golf advisory committee review all of this and ask questions and ultimately they would.

I'm sure like to see the golf advisory committee endorse whatever it is that they propose so that when they go to the board, they can answer those questions that they're not doing this in a vacuum. They've brought the community in and that that that's really how these these golf advisory committees and there are many different systems. All have them here in Southern California. It's a great opportunity to provide that input before that, before the policy making.

body in Los Angeles reviews that might make a change. I agree. I don't believe an advisory committee exists like that in Columbus, where I live. There's a pretty successful municipal group of courses in Columbus. Amazing locations is what they have. And I'll say that it quite often reviews reports from the department, but it also has the ability to

bring ideas forward, vet those ideas and make recommendations. And there have been some really good examples of that. I've been on for several years and the capital improvement program in the city of Los Angeles, that went through a dramatic change, a shift in how much is now being reinvested back into the system. So there are ways by which the collaboration, I think,

leads to some very positive results to set the facilities up in the longer run. Well, that's good. That's good. And listen, I think if you do ultimately move to that model of a skin in the game deposit, that kind of thing, my understanding is the current technology provider at LA city can handle that today. So that would be great, right? You wouldn't have to go out and shop for another provider. So that would be a win. And hopefully,

it becomes a little easier for people to get a tee time. You know, it is interesting. I wonder if the gray market altogether went away. Let's just say we could wave a magic wand. I don't know what life looks like at 6:01 AM for something for someone trying to book a tee time. It actually might not change it much at all. Because if the demand is there, the demand is there. And it would be very interesting to.

to see in three weeks or in four weeks what that experience has changed to. I agree. I think it's going to be very difficult to win back the confidence of the golf community. The confidence has been lost or at least shaken at the moment. And the reality is they have 50 plus thousand requests for tee times. And a couple other things that changed coming out of the pandemic. Not only had we seen golf.

participation increasing for several years prior to the pandemic. But then we know participation only increased in 2020 and 2021. And these systems here are at record rounds and record participation now. We've sustained and captured that interest. A couple other reasons for that, I think. One, the LA City system is using foursomes and 10 -minute tee intervals. So the golfer experience has really improved.

you don't have five and a half hour rounds anymore. You can tee off at 2:30 in the afternoon. If you're lucky enough to be on the box at that time, you can play in four and a half hours. It's a really different experience. And so I think that is absolutely part of why we've retained a lot of this interest. Let's back up for a second. Clue everybody in listening on what it was before that group went to foursomes in 10 minutes. Tell everybody where it was a few years ago.

Yeah, it varies, but five swims were permitted in most of our municipal systems. We generally saw two groups every 15 minutes somewhere in that range. It varied a bit, but... And the spacing, the reduction in player, five to four, and then moving from seven eights, that's what we call it in golf. They were on seven eights and they moved to tens.

Was that all COVID driven? They just wanted less people near each other? Is that what the thought was? It was an experiment that I think we were always interested in running, but I think there was always some fear that you're reducing capacity. That's going to cut into overall revenue and the overall number of rounds. Now we're seeing record participation, record rounds. I think what has changed is that you're seeing high demand for a 4:30.

PM start time this Saturday. That never happened before. And also you're able to push that twilight time, starting time back a little bit because you're able to fill every tee time. Turns out that golfers, there are a lot of golfers who like to play at 10, 11, 12 o 'clock, but they wanted to play early because they wanted the round to be less than five hours. And so because of this enhanced experience, as I like to call it,

you know, we're actually enjoying that utilization throughout the entire day. Got it. Got it. So, so at the end of the day, even though they did pull back on capacity, if you move from fives to fours, you are pulling back on capacity. Um, you're saying revenue was up. Correct. It's at records. And I think, um, you know, I, I, I think when you, when you look at it,

Overall, golfers are not interested in reducing that tee interval and they don't want to see by and large going back to fivesomes. Now, it does make it more difficult to secure a tee time from, you know, seven to one, the six hours that most are interested in, the most highly sought after hours of the week, seven to six, seven to one on Saturdays and Sundays.

So there are less golfers that can tee off in that window. However, the experience is so much different in that sense that if you tee off at 4:30, you get to the box on time. It's difficult to stay on pace when the tee interval is narrow. And so you're going to tee off at 4:30 if your tee time is 4:30, and you're not going to play a three hour nine. So.

Um, you know, overall it, it, it's, it was an experiment that I think no one really wanted to run, but now everyone is stuck with it because golfers are happy rounds are up. The revenue is, um, it is, uh, you know, through the roof where you would expect based on record rounds. Yeah. And then that's great. I mean, that really does speak to experience hand drive revenue, right? That, that if you really do provide a phenomenal experience, it can drive revenue.

Now I'll also say we hadn't talked about this before. The next guest we're going to have on his name is Matt Holder and he runs a, a, one of these wait list companies called loop golf. What's interesting though is all of these wait list guys and notify a tee time snipe, a loop golf. They've all come out of California because they all were experiencing this tremendous friction and getting a tee time. And so so many different people had this idea of, well, I'll

I'll fix that problem. I'll build some technology to fix that problem. So if nothing else, uh, this has created a whole bunch of innovation. Now that has led to like the most recent article we wrote was about scraping tee time booking engines. And that's a little, you know, if you, if let's say you're the individual that owns Angeles national, so a privately owned public golf course,

you can see where that person might be a little turned off to bots coming in and just scraping his tee time booking engine. You know, he's sitting there saying, look, I'm trying to run an honest business. Why are these people doing this? The guys on the other side and people will hear this on the podcast. The guys on the other side of that coin say, well, the courts say that that's publicly available information and we're allowed to scrape that information and try to help more golfers find tee time. So that's a,

whole nother subject to talk about. And I think as you all work with your technology provider, that's the next question to start asking the tech provider. Can you prevent people from scraping our booking engines? You know, can you put some fraud protection in there or something that can prevent some of this? And I think that's a question for further down the road, frankly. Yeah, and then that's another topic. Now, you know, we've seen a lot of interest.

in the last few years, considering the protection against bot activity, we've had discussions about brokers, but really the discussions in the past were more specifically about macros and bots having quick access. One thing that we were talking about, what a policy change might look like, and one other discussion point was,

the idea of releasing a tee time that has been canceled at random times or even random release of tee times in general. So instead of every tee time opening at 6 a .m., maybe a batch opens at six and a batch opens at six. These are just different ideas that are coming to light. Now, I don't know how that will work for those companies that are scraping and making the customer.

aware of tee times that become available. I know that, you know, at the very least, the idea of a canceled tee time getting released at different times, it seems that that would be helpful because explain explain that a little bit, Kevin, because I don't think people realize what's happening at 3:30 in the morning. Explain that a little bit. Yeah, exactly. So I think when you know, for example, you know, the system here, if it's LA city, what you're seeing is that there's some turnover.

And so you have some, the tee times all go very quickly. And then prior to that 24 hour cancellation window, a lot of tee times are canceled. And I don't know exactly what the percentage is off the top of my head, but you know, I've heard, you know, well beyond 20%. So there's some churn there. Now, some of it is not, you know, brokering, but what they're also seeing is that the tee times get booked.

And then in the middle of the night, a tee time gets canceled and rebooked very quickly. Because in the LA city system, you actually have to show your ID when you get to the golf course. So if you were a golfer who had paid a concierge service, when you get to the golf course, that tee time needs to have your name on it and you need your player card. So how is this happening? I mean, these are the kinds of questions that, you know, been sort of looking into for quite some time. And I think,

you know, bots and, you know, something technological, that's one component. But there's also this there's so much money to be had. And based on what we've seen the last few weeks, how much above the greens fee, some of these tee times are available for through, you you know, what was posted a couple weeks ago, and what went viral, that, you know, there's real money to be had there. So just the sort of how much of it is sort of

brute human force of somebody having multiple devices and booking a lot of times and then essentially, the golfer, you know, has an interest in say the 10:10 time. And then at 3am, you cancel the time at 3am, you rebook the time with that golfer's name. So when the golfer gets to the golf course, everything looks, everything looks correct. It was the golfer that booked it. So that's what I find would be extremely difficult to

you know, to figure out what what can you do with that if we if if there are four of us and we're all hoping to play on Saturday, and we all get on the the tee sheet at 6am, and we all book a tee time. And then we say, Well, which one do we want to take? Well, that there's no brokering, there isn't a no one is selling that reservation. But the four of us are hoping to play together, we're gonna have one booked and three cancellations. So that is problematic, too, because it just actually leads to

more requests for tee times. It's right. It's more traffic on the site. It's more churn. We you know, it's heartbreaking when you hear that a tee time you get short, you a foursome booked and to show up because that means there are golfers like like me, perhaps sitting at home on a Saturday morning. And and there was a spot for me. So yeah, we had that's not great for the facility or the golfer. We had another company on earlier.

and they build booking engines for golf courses and they have a feature that they've named Fair Play Guardian. And it really is built to address exactly what you just said, where people are booking three tee times and only using one of them and whatnot. And so they've actually deployed artificial intelligence to start to identify when a booking looks unusual to the mass of bookings that they typically see and then alerts start to go off.

and notify different stakeholders at the golf course that, Hey, we think this looks fraudulent. Not that we're going to prevent the person from booking it because maybe it isn't, but you should really look at this one. Here's this particular booking that our fraud technology, you know, rates is a very high likelihood of fraud. So yeah, there's people out there building solutions for sure. Um, well, listen, it's been, it's been great to have you on. I'm super interested to know you've got.

I think you've got two meetings coming up in the very, very near future. First, the advisory board that you chair will meet. And then from a meeting like that, a recommendation will go to the, what is the next board called? I'm not sure. So yes. So the policy making body is the, the board of commissioners, those five members are appointees of the mayor. So it's really within the executive branch of government. If, if staff wants to make some kind of change, they need board approval.

So the department provides reports to the board and then the board will sanction those changes. And we're really part of that stakeholder process. And so essentially this is how it would typically work. We have a meeting on Monday. We will get the opportunity to hear what the recommendations might be and then possibly endorse what staff.

presents and then when staff goes to the policy making the board that body then we will have vetted it to some degree and then the staff will be able to suggest that they went to the golf advisory committee and golf advisory committee provided feedback. It could be that the golf advisory committee endorses the board report so on and so forth. Well that's excellent. That's excellent. I can't thank you enough for coming on on short notice. I think it's really cool that you guys make yourselves available.

to help people understand this better. Like I said in the beginning, I'm not so sure that this is an indictment of the technology provider. This is just an odd situation. Not a lot of holes of golf and a whole bunch of golfers. And so some oddities will arise. Well, and to your point earlier, I certainly hope that one, we can help mitigate some of the problems that have come from this incredible.

interest in participation, but also I hope that we can sort of parlay this into explaining that yes, these golf courses are heavily utilized and we need them. And it's always going to be important for golfers to show up and make sure that those who have the opportunity to make policy decisions, they know that the community cares about these facilities and wants to see them continue to do well and provide the game of golf. That's yeah.

So well said. So well said. Well, thanks again for your time. And we'll look forward to speaking to you next week. I'm very interested to see what comes of everything. So thanks again, Kevin. Thank you for having me.

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