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The Jan. 17 edition of the "Weekly Vista" included an article in which the director of golf operations complained people are slipping onto golf courses without paying greens fees, particularly during shotgun starts. His answer is to implement a new system in which each golfer will be issued a color-coded and timestamped tag. He claims this tagging system will allow the play managers to identify the culprits who have snuck in "at a glance." Additionally, the time stamp will assist the play managers in maintaining the "pace of play." I offer a few observations and questions regarding the extent of the problem and his proposed solution.

First, the observations --

Golfers with tee times are required to check in with the starter before beginning play. Unless a threesome is picking up a fourth on the second tee, out of sight to the starter, it would be difficult for a golfer to get on the course without paying the greens fee. Therefore, the majority of the unpaid play must be occurring during shotguns.

While timestamps may be useful during tee times, timestamps would be of no use during a shotgun, since everyone starts at the same time -- 0800, 1100, etc.

The courses have not had regular play managers for several years due to budget cuts and staffing reductions. Unfortunately, four-and-a-half to five-plus-hour rounds are becoming commonplace, particularly during shotguns. Play managers have been replaced with placards in the carts reminding everyone to maintain the "pace of play," with the goal of a four-hour round.

Now, the questions --

How much revenue is being lost annually because of unpaid greens fees? And how much will be recovered by the new system?

During an average shotgun start, what percentage of players have annuals and what percentage pay cash?

What is the cost of the equipment and supplies for the new color-coded and timestamped tagging system?

What are the color codes, and what do they represent?

What is the benefit of a timestamp during a shotgun start since all golfers start at the same time?

How many play managers are to be hired and at what courses will they be assigned? When will they provide coverage, and how much will be spent on additional salaries?

Finally, will the revenue recovered pay for the tagging system and the new play managers?

Over the past couple of years, there have been numerous changes to golf in Bella Vista (new rules and regulations, course closings, new greens that cannot tolerate cold weather, new traps, loss of play managers), many of which have done little to enhance the golfing experience. Will this new tagging system improve the golfing experience in Bella Vista, and will it pay for itself?

Bill King

Bella Vista

Editorial on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Letter to the Editor

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