Golf tee times: a tale of two coupon fillers

  • If you play golf, tee time pricing is changing: no longer fixed, there are deals to be had, if you know where to look
  • Check out Teeoff.com and GolfNow.com, two services that offer deals for courses in your area
  • Use Honey, Piggy, or another coupon filler of choice to sweeten the deal

I’m a golfer, and finding deals on tee times used to be hard or impossible. But the game is in a worrying decline, generally, so the industry is desperately trying to attract players in all kinds of ways.

One way is pricing. Used to be that a tee time cost a set fee, pretty much any time you looked. It might be slightly more on weekend prime time (AM in the summer, for example), but that was about it.

Now all that’s changed.

A minority of courses have embraced “dynamic pricing,” which roughly tracks with how airlines price: depending on when you want to play, how soon your tee time is, how many people have booked around you, and many more factors, your price will vary.

But that’s the exception among courses, who aren’t that sophisticated, or apparently interested in becoming so.

Golfnow and Teeoff: tee time discounters

What’s far more common is courses that use of Golfnow.com and Teeoff.com.

These services work in similar ways: in exchange for the course giving them one or more tee times a day to sell at any price the service can get, they become the online booking engine for the course. It’s a pretty good trade, since the course get up-to-date online reservation services for what is effectively nothing, at least in terms of cash outlay.

The bad news for golfers is that the times the courses provide are generally for off-peak tee times the course assumes they’ll have problems selling on their own. That is, the times they’re willing to give up in exchange for everything Teeoff and Golfnow offer: technology, marketing, pricing flexibility, etc.

Still, I’ve use both services extensively. In general, Teeoff.com (a service provided by the PGA of America, the organizing group for golf professionals, from Tiger Woods to your local pro) is the more interesting for deal hunters. GolfNow has its merits too – it boils down to what courses you like to play and which platform supports them.

Stacking golf savings

Which brings us to the point of this case study.

Teeoff.com (and increasingly, Golfnow as well) offers coupons on top of what they call “hot deals” (in GolfNow’s lingo). That’s the tee time(s) the course alot them for resale. These times tend to be decent discount deals BEFORE coupons are applied, so deal lovers can really score with a good coupon.

Of course, finding the best coupon is the trick. Unless you’re a fan, as you should be, of automated coupon fillers like Honey.

Anyway. I’ve been looking for a way to compare the effectiveness of Honey vs other coupon fillers, notably Piggy. So for a recent tee time search, I put both to work, with interesting results.

Honey vs Piggy: who’ll shoot the low score?

I started at Teeoff.com by searching in my area for a “deal” on the day I wanted. Several courses popped up, and one close by had a reasonable deal – around $40 for a 1:30pm time. Not bad, and well below the course’s “rack rate,” but no way I’d stop there.

I first invited Piggy to do its magic, and after plugging in their known coupons , it saved me around $10. Nice. I’m starting to get interested.

Next, Honey. I suspected they had (and have) a bigger, more current database of coupons, and it turned out to be true. A coupon Piggy didn’t try produced a net price of $13 for the time.

Now, you might have to be a golfer to appreciate all this, but I can tell you: a tee time at a quality course, including cart, for $13, is unheard of. It wasn’t my favorite course, or the optimal time to play, but I simply couldn’t afford not to grab it. I quickly booked the time, hoping that a mistake that might have been made won’t be discovered.

Later a friend wanted to join the time I booked, which had additional slots available. But I couldn’t tell them what coupon I used – since Honey knew, I didn’t pay attention. Install Honey and let them do the heavy lifting, I told him, and he did, and good things ensued.

Everything tastes better with Honey

Moral of the story: if you’re a golfer, get to know Teeoff.com and Honey. I can’t say Piggy won’t find a better deal some of the time, so probably worth doing your own comparisons, and not just for tee times, of course.

But the bigger picture: the most basic of the Basics: get yourself going with Honey and their ilk. It’s the easiest route to free money I know.

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