It’s amazing to me that 227 years after the final ratification of the American Bill of Rights, we still wholly rely upon them as we navigate the trials and tribulations of living together in society. There is something evergreen about the specific rights that James Madison codified as the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which were written in part to address rights that were either overlooked in the Constitution or that needed to be clarified due to the ongoing debate about federal and state authorities.
While our issues in golf aren’t as “heavy” as the fundamental rights of man and woman, we are hoping the new “Golf Course Operator’s Bill of Rights for Marketing and Distribution of Tee Times” will offer clarity about how courses should be respected and treated by those we entrust with our customer information and tee time inventory, regardless of the shifting sands or changing winds of technology and marketing. At the most recent Golf USA Tee Time Coalition board meeting, we drafted and passed such a document, the body of which is as follows:
1. Operator shall have total ownership of his or her tee time inventory, including the ability to share access with or restrict access to any tee time agency.
2. Operator shall have full control of all pricing for all tee time inventory across all channels of distribution and online tee time agencies, which includes retaining the right to lowest price guarantee on his/her own website.
3. Operator’s tee time availability and pricing shall be accurately displayed and free from misrepresentation.
4. Operator shall receive comprehensive and transparent data related to all performance and activity with all distribution partners, agencies and affiliates, including but not limited to customer name and email address, tee time reservation data, revenue, price paid for tee times, impressions and clicks.
5. Operator shall have the option to pay cash for all technology and marketing services.
6. Operator shall retain all rights associated with his/her business brand, name and likeness, which shall not be used in marketing by any agent or affiliate without the Operator’s written permission.
7. Operator shall have the right to cancel any agreement with any tee time agency or affiliate without being subject to excessive fees, penalties or evergreen terms.
8. Operator shall have the right to enforce their own policies and procedures, including but not limited to cancellation or no-show policies, when such policies are in conflict with partnered or affiliated tee time agencies.
The NGCOA and the PGA of America founded the Golf USA Tee Time Coalition two years ago to help course operators manage their relationships with online tee time providers, which can be difficult to deconstruct and understand fully. To ensure this ecosystem works in symbiosis for all parties, the coalition shares guidelines and best practices, such as this Bill of Rights to use when partnering with providers (find more resources at teetimecoalition.org).
Just as the American Bill of Rights is regularly compromised or violated in some fashion by citizens and institutions (we are not a perfect society), we don’t expect that creating this document alone will change behavior. These are very complicated relationships. But it gives us a foundation upon which to craft our agendas and build technical standards for software companies and tee time marketers. It makes it pretty clear what and who we are advocating for.
What do you think? Comment below or find me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/jaykaren and share your thoughts.