Full Play Non-Resident Pass Sales Surge!

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Jan 20, 2023.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I know readers eyes glaze over when it comes to golf numbers and data. We’ve long heard the former board president tell us, “data/numbers matter.” I agree, and it was why i patiently sat on the sidelines waiting for the year end totals that were just released.

    If you were at or watched the last member/board exchange, you saw two Sun City residents speaking how difficult it is for them to secure tee times. For those unfamiliar, November-April is what is known as “prime time.” It’s when the courses fill and golfers are battling over playing at their favored times.

    This fiasco was first exposed early last year at the initial member/board exchange. Three long time residents, who happen to be member/owners, complained about how tough it was to schedule tee times. The board was miffed by the complaints and vowed to get to the bottom of it. Boy did they ever.

    In the coming months we found out the sale of non-resident full play passes during the pandemic doubled and in 2022, was far ahead of the pace of 2021. Then we heard they had access to the web portal (just like members did). But wait, it gets worse, way worse: We also found out they could join small groups of 30 or more and with a $2 override, bypass the lottery completely and get tee times belonging to RCSC members. Nope, not done yet because as we started digging, we found out they were guaranteed a golf car for a fraction of what a member was renting one for (if they could get one at all).

    Following the summer break, Director Collins tried to pass a motion to address the problems related to non resident full play passes. It failed as the management team told the board everything was just fine and golf needed the revenue. But did they really?

    I’m one of those odd ducks who looks at financials and listens to what members were and still are saying. Everything i saw and heard told me differently. In fact what we saw happening in Sun City West was outside play was subsidizing their golf revenue but never at the cost of giving away rounds on the cheap to non residents. I was confident the year end numbers would substantiate what was wrong with our antiquated structure for selling golf.

    The solution sold by management and bought by the board was to increase non-resident full play passes by $250 in the two categories. It was laughable because we were giving our tee times away for a fraction of the real market value. Their argument was they would lose outside sales if they didn’t give them the bargain of a lifetime. So what? At least RCSC golfers would be able to get the tee times they were entitled to

    You don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to understand the data just released:
    Member Full Play: 2022; $2,075,182. 2021; $1,915,571.
    Non-member full play: 2022; $319,581. 2021; $229,447.
    Daily Play and Surcharge: 2022; $4,456,767. 2021; $4,130,823.

    The great news is, golf revenue is up. The largest category are both members and non-members who are paying the market value for golf is increasing. A trend that bodes well. The bad news is the sale of non-resident full play passes has exploded. While a small amount of that is due the $250 increase, the bulk of the 300k plus 2022 revenue has proven the management teams actions did nothing to stem outsiders coming in and buying cheap golf and worse yet taking our (the RCSC members) tee times.

    It gets worse though: How many of those prime time tee times were taken from the daily play and surcharge category? We know in Sun City West 2.5 million dollars came from outsiders, but they never were given preferential treatment in accessing tee times (always after members had first choice) and they always paid more than what members would pay.

    The former board president was correct, data matters and it is high time to look closely at these figures and restructure how we sell and market golf to non-residents.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2023
    eyesopen, Linduska, FYI and 2 others like this.
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I have some things to do this morning so i'm going to make this short and sweet. The Independent newspaper article this week regarding outside play and the non-resident passes was shocking. It claimed these groups of 30 or more can book their tee times well in advance to insure they get exactly what, where and when they want. There is a $2 charge per player, but when buying the full play pass the cost add-on is barely a blip on the screen for them.

    Reading that i did something i have never done before, i opened the RCSC golf calendar and started looking more closely. You can find it here. It was "interesting" to say the least. If you take the time to open it, make sure to click on the extended groups appearing at the bottom of each scheduled day. As a non-golfer, i may not have any skin in the game about getting a tee time, but as a member/owner i most assuredly am concerned about RCSC members being bumped by non-residents.

    If i were on the RCSC board of directors, as stated by the former board president, i would be demanding data. I would be asking for and having in hand the numbers of players in each group of 30 and exactly how many of them are RCSC members. It's a simple request and one they can gather quickly and with little fanfare. That information should be shared across the golfing community and they should be involved in the solutions.

    One curious footnote to this discussion, while rounds of play were up and strong, golf car rental was down 20k from 2021. Was that because we were providing golf cars for non-residents buying full play passes, and our members (as we have heard) were unable to rent them?
    eyesopen, Linduska and Linda McIntyre like this.
  3. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    Somebody has a lot of 'splaining to do!

    As the new Board gets settled, I hope they require "visuals" as part of the management reports. It's pretty easy to put charts together that would show the increases over the years (they should be a required supplement to the written report).
    Cheri Marchio, eyesopen and Linduska like this.
  4. Carol

    Carol Member

  5. Carol

    Carol Member

    I was at North golf course today. The ladies had team play. Willowcreek played North, they teed-off around 9:30 and we have 6 tee times on the back and 6 on the front. We play twice a month November thru March Thursday and Saturday. I did not play today but went to the course around 12:30 to take care of some of the scorecards when the ladies come in. North parking lot was full all the way past the lawn bowling courts, I mean full not a parking space. I looked around and I have never seen it that full. There were some young kids, well I guess I should say young adults, probably in their 20's. I asked them if they had passes and they said they didn't know what I meant by, pass, I kind of didn't answer them (because I was sure they would all end up getting one) and just asked them why they play in an old folk's community. They responded that it is the cheapest place to play in the valley. I did not think to ask if they were playing as guest or public. It appeared to me that most of the people on the putting green and around the practice area where I was practicing seemed to be public as they were mostly all younger. Anyways my thought is we will have more outside play then members playing if this trend continues. No outside play should be able to make a tee time using the lottery, period! They should not be able to book a tee time over the phone before members can book. As Bill says, just one woman's opinion.
    Larry, Enigma, FYI and 5 others like this.
  6. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    Carol...please come to the next Member Exchange and address this directly to the Board. This situation is getting more ridiculous by the week!
    Enigma, Janet Curry and eyesopen like this.
  7. IndependentCynic

    IndependentCynic Active Member

    Too bad golf isn't a club -- per BP12 "Neither club visitors nor club guests shall displace club members."
  8. eyesopen

    eyesopen Well-Known Member

    In addition to attending the Exchange on Monday, Feb. 13th, 9 am at Sundial, members can contact:
    * RCSC Director of Golf & Grounds
    Brian Duthu bduthu@suncityaz.org
    * RCSC Golf Advisory Committee – Chair: Kat Fimmel kfimmel@suncityaz.org Co-Chair: Steve Collins scollins@suncityaz.org
    * Entire RCSC Board of Directors BoardofDirectors@suncityaz.org
    * Sun City Independent News
    Letter to the Editor
    Rusty Bradshaw
    Janet Curry and Linda McIntyre like this.
  9. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Go figure eh IC, every day during prime time season, these non-resident golfers displace not only members, but often times RCSC members who would be paying full price to enjoy their amenities. The challenge is with some 38,000 (members and privilege card holders) only 12% of them golf and have at least a passing awareness of what is going on. The other 88% either don't know, or don't care. But then, why should they?

    No surprises here; i'll try and explain why: The Articles of Incorporation state this in Article 3; To do anything ad everything lawfully necessary in the interest of the "MEMBERS of the CORPORATION." Nowhere does it tell the board or management to provide the cheapest rates of golf for non-residents. In fact, given what IC posted above, we know the intent of our documents was for the organization was to insure the members came first...always!

    It begs the question, how the hell did we get to a point where this happens? The answer isn't some big mystery; board members trusted the management team to do their job. So much so that when questionable behaviors took place, they were unwilling to confront them. Holding management accountable has always been one of the board's responsibilities. Over the past 15 years, we have allowed them total freedom to do whatever. Shame on all of us.

    So you know, the argument from management was this: We need the revenue from outside play to help keep the cost of golf down for the members. You saw above it was $319,000 and we know from the reports given, that will be roughly 13,000 rounds played by non-resident full play pass holders. Not all of that is during the high season (Nov-April), but clearly more than 50% of it.

    We also know from looking at the data, members, guests (friends of members) and visitor play has spiked nicely. The price for those rounds of golf is as follows during the high season: Members-$35. Guests of members-$44. Outside visitors-$50. That's a really good thing, but it also isn't a Sun City thing, the pandemic drove folks back to golf and it has held on, a least for now.

    The problem is during the "high season," is when the majority of the rounds are played and revenue is actually derived. The other 6 months (May-October) every golf course in Arizona offers "cheap golf." Everyone in the golf business knows that unfilled tee times are simply "lost revenue," so everyone runs gimmicks to fill the dead summer months. For our purposes of this discussion, we are focusing on those 6 prime time tee times months and how valuable they really are.

    Before we go there though, let's recap Sun City's philosophy regarding golf; they measure success by the number of rounds played, not by the revenue generated. The reality has been we have a lot of courses (8) and golf was on the decline until the pandemic hit. The other half of the equation was golf, since the day we opened in 1960, has been used to draw buyers to the community and has always been a "loss leader" (meaning it was under-priced when charging the members).

    Honestly, i have no problem with the RCSC subsidizing golf for the members (including privilege card holders). Where i balk is when they (management) decided to allow outsiders to take advantage of our courses at what was/is a fraction of what they should be paying. In their (management's) quest to fill the courses, they built a structure of cheap golf no matter who was buying it.

    The argument has been Sun City golf courses aren't as nice as Sun City West, Sun City Grand or Coyote Lakes (all of which i have played), but they are still really playable. We know from the numbers our courses are still drawing golfers from the outside who are willing to pay the daily rates. It's the kind of revenue that is needed to bring us closer to break even. However when you sell full play passes with no limit on the number of rounds played, you drastically diminish the number of available rounds that can be sold during the 6 months prime time.

    It's one thing for an RCSC member who buys the full play pass ($1550) and golfs 300 rounds a year (net cost just over $5 a round). It's a wholly another for a non-resident who buys the full play pass ($2,750 with a golf car) and plays 100-150 rounds per year and gets it for about $20 round when you factor in the free golf car. It is simply a methodology that is flawed on its face. Judging success by rounds played rather than revenue generated is silly because cheap golf doesn't pay the bills.

    The point here is this: The new board and more importantly the RCSC golfing community needs to have a "come to Jesus meeting." The data needs to be looked at carefully and with a core belief these golf rounds belong to members first; not outsiders. As noted above, i'm fine with subsidizing golf for the membership. What i hate, absolutely HATE is giving away cheap golf to those not living here. If they want to enjoy our amenities, let them move into the community we love and call our home.

    It's that freaking simple.
    Linduska, eyesopen and Linda McIntyre like this.
  10. Janet Curry

    Janet Curry Well-Known Member

    This coming Wednesday, we have guests coming to play golf. Six days ahead, I logged on to our website to book a late morning tee time at one of our RCSC courses. Quail Run was the only course that was available. Perhaps that is because Wednesday is reserved for men's league at the other courses.

    A couple of true Sun City golfing stories from my neighbors:

    My neighbor is a full time SC resident and buys an annual resident no fee full play pass and plays about three times a week.
    He owns his own cart so only has to show his key fob when he checks in with the starter.
    He started getting emails about tee times when he knew he wasn't going to play.
    He logged onto the RCSC website to check his "Rounds History" where you can see your previously played golf rounds.
    He noticed dozens of dates that he hadn't played. Apparently someone else was playing on his rec center number!
    He printed off his "Rounds History", highlighted the dates he had not played and took it to the RCSC office.
    There were 83 rounds of golf played during the past year by someone else on his no fee full play pass!
    He was given a new RCSC number.
    RCSC told him they caught the person on camera. No explanation of what disciplinary actions they took or how to remedy the situation so it doesn't happen again.
    When we show our rec cards at any facility, our photo shows up on the computer screen for the Starter or Monitor to be sure we are Members in Good Standing.
    The questions this raises are, "How did this happen? Was the Starter complicit in this? If so, did he/she get fired? Was the person a Member who just didn't want to pay his fees or a nonresident getting lots of free golf? A friend or relative of a Starter? An employee who knows how to work the system? This person was playing golf one to two times a week on someone else's privileges. How many other people are doing this?"
    Worse yet, is RCSC inflating the number of rounds played by adding "rounds played"? Doubtful, but possible.
    Is this happening in other activities, such as swimming, pickleball, concerts, tennis, bowling, etc?

    Second story:
    I have new neighbors who recently moved into Sun City from another, newer 55+ West Valley community. Nice people!
    Mrs. Neighbor told me her husband was spending too much time traveling to SC to play golf so they decided to sell their new house elsewhere to buy an older place in SC.
    Not a golfer, she continued to tell me that her husband and another nonresident were sharing an annual no fee nonresident pass and taking turns coming over to play in our 20+ small groups.
    This is another abuse of our golf privileges by people who don't or haven't lived here. I assume their nonresident pass included a guaranteed cart because my new neighbors have their own cart. (Nonresidents can't drive their own carts to SC from other communities. They either walk or ride in one of RCSC's carts.)
    I didn't ask any further questions because I didn't want to alienate new neighbors. Luckily, at least we gained new Members out of this situation.
    This begs the questions, "How does this happen? Do nonresidents' photos show up on the monitors when they check in with the Starter? How many other nonresidents are sharing annual nonresident passes? It's possible that this one pass was being used to play six to seven times a week year round, thus preventing RCSC Members from getting their desired tee times.

    Two neighbors, in less than two months, and two unsolicited stories of abuse of golf privileges by nonpaying residents or nonresidents. What is going to be done about this and when?

    P.S. (In several instances, I have heard people talk about 20+ groups and other times 30+ groups. Have we lowered the number of participants to accommodate these groups? I have heard 20+ by Members on blogs and maybe even at the Exchanges but our Director of Golf has indicated it is 30+, which is considered a small group in the golfing world. I agree with him on that.)
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2023
  11. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    Once again, there is some serious explaining to do. These situations also need a serious discussion and deep dive with the golf committee, golf management personnel, GM and the Board. I hope the abusers are forbidden from ever playing here again, and a thorough investigation was done as to how these things happened and if staff members were involved they were properly disciplined. It begs the question, how often is this happening? And/or what steps have been taken to stop them?
    Linduska, Enigma, eyesopen and 2 others like this.
  12. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let's be really, really blunt here, the stories Janet told above are out and out theft. Using someone else's full play pass number/card was stealing; end of story. More importantly the RCSC can identify who did it. They have the names of every foursome or fivesome, when they signed up and when they teed off. Apparently we have a system that is flawed in more ways than just outsiders getting a great deal on golf, there's ways to cheat it and make it an even better "bargain."

    If they are member/owners, their cards should be pulled, just like they do with members who go ask questions of the architects (being snarky here with a year long suspension of privileges). This one is far worse than that. They intentionally stole from every RCSC member. If they are outsiders, they should be booted from the courses, permanently. They (management) doesn't need to tell us their names, we do need to know they have addressed it and how it was dealt with...or if they even did deal with it. We also need to know what safeguards were put in place to insure these cheap full play passes aren't being used to game the system.

    This is what happens when people become complacent and don't care. Hopefully it's been addressed.
    Enigma, Linda McIntyre and eyesopen like this.
  13. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    You are absolutely right Bill. But, will we ever know? It's not the first time we've heard a story about someone using a person's card number for golf. Seems like I recall a similar story reported several months back of a resident finding someone had used their card number a couple hundred times. Does that one sound familiar?
    Linduska, Enigma and eyesopen like this.
  14. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    It might be the same one, or wholly different. The bigger questions are this: how long has this been going on how often does it happen?
    Enigma, eyesopen and Linda McIntyre like this.
  15. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Less anyone thinks i am making a silly argument about golf rates, here is a summary of our competition. Admittedly their courses are newer and nicer but when you look closely you will see the fallacy of our structure. By the way, Sun City West has 7 courses to our 8, so on a per capita (based on population), they have more:
    Sun City (using only the high season):
    Member: $35.
    Member/Guest: $44.
    Visitor: $50.

    Sun City West:
    Member: $42.
    Guest and Visitor: $61.

    Sun City Grand:
    Member: $45.
    Member/Guest: $74.
    Visitor: $96.

    Full Play Passes:
    Sun City: Member: $1550. Non Resident (no car) $2250. Non-Resident (with car) $2750.
    Sun City West: Full Play Member: $3500.
    Sun City Grand: Full Play Member: $4010.

    Can anyone spot the very obvious differences?
    eyesopen likes this.
  16. Janet Curry

    Janet Curry Well-Known Member

    This golf situation with "small group reserved tee times" reminds me of when I started to play golf around 1975. At our Club, women were not allowed on the course before noon on Saturdays and Sundays back then. Tuesday mornings were reserved for Ladies League and Wednesday afternoon for Men's Day. I had a standing tee time every Saturday at 12:15 and Sunday at 12:08 with three other golfers. There were many, many golfers in the Club with standing tee times which prevented new members from getting desirable tee times. At least ten years ago, our Club eliminated all standing tee times which left some members unhappy, but it was the right thing to do. Golf courses rely on new, younger members to stay in the black. Rightfully so, the Board and Management recognized that just because you had been a member for years, you aren't entitled to special privileges.

    Our Club still has outside events because they help the bottom line through green fees, golf cart rentals, and food and beverage sales. A wise golf course walks a fine line between bringing in outside events and keeping the course open for the members. In the current case here in Sun City, I think it needs to get back to that fine line. It has veered too far away with outside events, reserved tee times, and nonresident golfers who frequent our courses for a low fee.

    About four years ago, the only other 18 hole regulation course in our small Midwest city was basically destroyed by a flood. It is a city owned course that had over 50 outside events scheduled for the upcoming season. They approached our Club to take on all of their events for that year. Wanting to be a good neighbor, our Club helped out but wisely chose which events they would take on, but did not accept all 50 because it would have tied up the course by outside events and Members would have had very limited availability. Sadly, that course has still been pretty much out of commission four years later. First it was waiting for FEMA to come through with funding for complete reconstruction of the eleven holes that had been destroyed. When that was finally done, the Management let golf carts on way too early and they had to close it down again. Hopefully it will be back to some normality this summer. I mention this out of state situation because 1) it was foolish for the city to build a golf course in a flood zone even when many residents begged them not to do it and 2) Management made a poor decision to let golf carts on too soon which prevented play (and revenue) for the rest of the season. In both cases, oversight was negligent. You just can't have a few people making decisions that impact so many others. There needs to be accountability.

    I don't think nongolfers in Sun City should be subsidizing golf by millions of dollars when the fees for passes haven't been raised in years and lots of outsiders are playing our courses because it is cheap. They are welcome to play but only when Members have had first choice of tee times and the nonresidents pay more than Members. Since Management had no problem raising the annual assessment $29, the golfing passes should be more as well. The same argument applies, "It's been several years without increases, and inflation is making everything cost more."
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
  17. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    It's a circular argument from management Janet that the "cheap" golf passes sold to outsiders is the reason they can sell cheap full play passes to residents. What's the line? "It's a riddle wrapped in an enigma." The simple reality is the most valuable tee times we (the RCSC) has are from November-April. The reason i posted the link to the calendar was so you could see who is taking those tee times.

    Most often it is the full play pass buyers, both from inside and outside the community. It gets worse because it's often groups of 30 or more that override the selection process by paying the $2 per round fee and are guaranteed the best, most wanted times and if they are outsiders paying the $2750, are guaranteed a golf car. The surcharge and daily rate payers are fighting for what's left.

    In my mind, the surcharge structure is the best as it reduces costs and at the same time every time they play, they pay (a greatly reduced rate based on the time of year). That's why i have said, it's not my job to figure out how it should work, the RCSC member/golfer/owners know and understand the problems far better than i do. Let them have a voice in how this works best, for all of them.

    What i do know doesn't work, isn't right, is outsiders bumping RCSC members from times they want to play and then paying far less than the members pay. It's crazy beyond comprehension anyone in management would try and justify it. Crazy.

    Tomorrow we will dig into how other communities value their play, while Sun City has devalued our courses to a point of absurdity. Cheap isn't always better.
    Linduska and Janet Curry like this.
  18. Say What

    Say What Active Member

    Well I'm going to chime in on some things here folks and I don't give a damn if you like what I have to say or not cuz most of you don't and that's life. Dear Carol you were talking about your woman's League playing at Willow Creek. You at 60 times on the front 60 times on the back which means you had 12 tee times with five golfers each which you had 60 players playing. Now I know Carol for a fact that some of these women that you have in your group live in Westbrook village and playing groups in Sun City and yes I do know this as a fact. I also know a majority of your groups are Sun City members and residence so I have no problem with that. Hey Carol that's all I have to say to you to address at this point. Now what needs to be done Mr Bill and Linda and the rest of y'all here is make it mandatory and no passes are sold to anybody under 55 years of age and they should be a higher price than what member passes are and if you're unable to speak English you are not allowed to play on our courses in Sun City or be allowed to buy a pass for anything. Continue this conversation at a later time anybody using somebody else's pass should be automatic ban of all privileges. This is stealing and she be dealt with severely which must have punishment to the Severus of all levels also.
    Janet Curry likes this.
  19. Janet Curry

    Janet Curry Well-Known Member

    Gosh, Mr. Say What, it appears that we all agree on some things related to golf. Good idea to be sure nonresident passes are sold only to people 55 years and older! I believe at least one of the new golfers in my ladies league is a nonresident. She beats all of us regularly, but that is the way golf is. Competition is supposed to be good for us, right?

    Do you know if nonresident pass holders get a rec card number? I think Privilege Cardholders numbers start with a nine. I wonder if there is a way to tell if the golfer is a nonresident by the beginning number of their rec #.

    I don't think RCSC can refuse to sell passes for people who don't speak English. The ACLU would be filing a lawsuit immediately!

    Have a good day!
  20. Carol

    Carol Member

    Janet, I agree with your response to Say What. Willowcreek's Womens league is an 18 hole league that each of our regulation courses have including the executive courses. The rules are you have to have a RCSC rec # to join a league and since RCSC has started privilege cards and selling them to the public they qualify to play in our leagues on Tuesday and Men's leagues on Wednesday. I believe that a privilege card starts with the # 9 and the public passes start with 8000. Say What, I mentioned nothing about the women's league in my last post. It is a Team Play event that has been going on for year and is sanctioned by RCSC. It is 24 ladies from each course, for a total of 48 not 60. We play each of the other courses twice in a season. I might add the ladies never play 5somes in their leagues or tournaments.
    Janet Curry likes this.

Share This Page