Fore! Seven! Nine! Golf prices soaring
Super Bowl week means big money is in town, and courses want their share. A foursome could pay $900 a round.
By BOB HARIG
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 18, 2001
Tampa Bay area golf courses expect a winter windfall when seasonal residents come to Florida. But when the biggest football game of the year is in town, they are counting on a super turnout -- with prices to match.
In anticipation of thousands of visitors descending upon the area in the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, many courses have raised rates -- some considerably -- for next week.
"I think it's the old theory of supply and demand," said Brady Boyd, general manager at the TPC of Tampa Bay in Lutz, which will charge $225 per person beginning Monday. "From our research, a lot of people who like to watch football like to play golf. We have a similar demographic. And people like to play the type of course we're offering.
"In an attempt to balance that time, we raised our price. We do have lots of openings right now, so we'll see."
TPC of Tampa Bay's normal winter rate for one greens fee and a cart is $136. At the higher rate of $225, tee times for Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 are already gone.
TPC is not alone. Westchase Golf Club in Tampa will have a Super Bowl weekend rate of $169 from Jan. 26-28. The usual winter weekend rate at the course is $84. At Lansbrook Golf Club in Palm Harbor, the winter weekend rate of $65 will go to $120. Largo's Bardmoor Golf Club will charge $150 from Jan. 25-28, up from $69. Bloomingdale Golfers Club in Valrico will go from $45 to $89 on Jan. 26-28. The Eagles in Odessa will get $100 on its Lakes course and $105 on the Forest course on Super Bowl weekend, up from $49 and $54.
Unlike the hotel industry, golf courses are not subject to a Florida statute that prevents raising room prices above a posted rack rate.
And the concept is nothing new. During the week of the Masters in Augusta, Ga., courses there typically charge up to four times more than the regular rate.
"It's going to be one of our better weeks," said Frank Reynolds, general manager at the Eagles. "At least I certainly hope so. We're one of the least expensive courses in the area, so I think we'll really be busy."
At Westchase, general manager Clay Thomas said word was put out early to regulars at the course that prices would be higher during Super Bowl week. So the club put together a 12:30 shotgun start on Super Bowl Sunday that will be just $50 and include watching the game on a big screen TV in the clubhouse. The event is sold out.
"We realize we're taking them away from times they like to play, so we wanted to compensate them a little bit," Thomas said. "We definitely don't want to upset our regulars, but at the same time we see a chance to make some money.
"We're pretty close to full already. We've been taking a lot of small corporate groups, 20 to 40 players. We're probably about two-thirds full and I'm sure we'll fill those in during the course of the next week with people coming to town. "A lot of people will be down here on behalf of their companies and they probably aren't concerned about (the price). We talked to people in Miami and California and Arizona. A lot of those people are used to paying more than $200 per round. Tampa at Super Bowl rates is a pretty good deal."
Boyd at the TPC of Tampa Bay, home to the annual Verizon Classic on the Senior PGA Tour, had similar sentiments.
"For those who are familiar with the Tournament Players Club experience, we've always been a pretty good deal," Boyd said. "Those people who come in for the Super Bowl are familiar with it. We haven't had any price resistance from people calling from out of town."
Boyd said players who are on membership plans that guarantee them a certain rate throughout the year will not have to pay the higher fee if they play next week.
Two of the biggest resorts in the area, the Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor and Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, are not charging more than usual Super Bowl week. Both resorts have all their guest rooms booked, but some golf is available.
Innisbrook is offering an outside rate of $395 per foursome for its Highlands courses, $495 per foursome for the Island course and $595 per foursome for the Copperhead course. The regular rates at those course for resort guests are $180, $205 and $230, respectively. Saddlebrook is charging its regular January-May rate of $180, $145 to resort guests.
Fox Hollow Golf Club in New Port Richey has a higher rate only if you want to lock in a tee time in advance -- a practice the club uses throughout the year. Its usual rates of $65 Monday-Thursday, $80 Friday-Sunday, are in effect, with $10 off to anyone with a Florida driver's license. If someone wants to book a team time now, the price goes to $90 and $105.
"What good is it going to do you to make some money for one week out of 10 years, and upset your regular customers?" said Dave Stewart, head golf pro at Fox Hollow. "I don't think it's that huge of a deal. There will be a couple more thousand people in town to play golf spread out over how many courses? Plus, it's just not the right thing to do. Sure, you want to maximize what you make. Is Bern's going to raise their prices? No, but they want to be full. We're planning on being here longer than the Super Bowl."
What about the closest golf course to Raymond James Stadium? Rocky Point Golf Course is charging its regular rate of $36 in the morning and $31 after 11 a.m.
Rates go up, of course
A sampling of what some area golf courses will be charging during the week of the Super Bowl:
TPC OF TAMPA BAY, LUTZ: $225 starting Monday ($136 usual winter rate).
WESTCHASE GOLF CLUB, TAMPA: $84 Saturday-Monday; $104 Tuesday-Wednesday, $59 after 2 p.m., $39 after 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, $129 all day; Friday-Sunday, $169 all day. ($84 usual weekend rate, $64 weekday rate).
THE EAGLES, ODESSA: $75 Lakes, $80 Forest, Monday-Wednesday; $100 Lakes, $105 Forest, Thursday-Sunday ($49, $54 usual winter rate).
BLOOMINGDALE GOLFERS CLUB, VALRICO: $59 Monday-Tuesday; $69 Wednesday-Thursday; $89 Friday-Sunday. ($45 usual winter weekend rate).
FOX HOLLOW GOLF CLUB, NEW PORT RICHEY: $65 Monday-Thursday, $80 Friday-Sunday. $10 off for Florida residents. (Rates go up to $90 and $105 with an advance tee time of more than two days.)
BARDMOOR GOLF CLUB, LARGO: $150 Thursday-Sunday before noon, $125 after noon. ($64 before noon weekdays, $69 before noon weekends, usual winter rate.)
LANSBROOK GOLF CLUB, PALM HARBOR: $100 Monday-Friday, $50 after 1 p.m.; $120 Saturday-Sunday, $50 after 1 p.m. ($55, $65 usual winter rate.)
WESTIN INNISBROOK RESORT, PALM HARBOR: Foursomes from $395 to $595, depending on course, for outside play. This rate is in effect indefinitely and does not include a stay at the resort.
SADDLEBROOK RESORT, WESLEY CHAPEL: $180 for non-resort guests, $145 for resort guests. This is the usual winter rate.
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