Why Government-Owned Golf Course Fees Are Rising for Heavier Users

The Prince Edward Island government is counting on a new membership fee structure to make access to its three courses less difficult for locals and tourists, after a 2021 season that saw crowded courses during many days.

Under the changes, the cost of unlimited membership at the three provincially owned courses – Brudenell, Dundarave and Crowbush Cove – will increase from $1,635 to $2,500.

But golfers will also have the option of paying less to play a set number of rounds throughout the season. For example, 40 rounds on all three courses will cost $1,360.

“It’s built more around fairness and the ability for people to buy the number of games they want to play,” said Ryan Garrett, manager of the three courses.

“It also puts a little more responsibility on our members to value the tee times they do… It could very easily happen that for some reason one member books an hour for four people, and two don’t know the reservation was made, and only two showed up… We definitely could have, at the end of last year, used these two places for another guest or another member.

Trying to serve members and tourists

No-shows were less frustrating before last season, Garrett said, because there were plenty of tee times available.

In 2020, with Prince Edward Island only open to Atlantic travellers, it was largely members who played the courses. Garrett said membership grew from 450 to 750 in that first pandemic summer.

In 2021, when the province finally opened up to the whole country for much of the season, these members found themselves competing for tee times with large numbers of tourists, he said. .

“We serve two customers – visiting golfers and members,” Garrett said. “And with only so many times, when the two numbers go up, it’s hard to serve both customers well.”

Ryan Garrett, who manages the three government-owned golf courses, says member reaction to the new fee structure has been mixed. (Zoom)

Garrett said the membership fee changes were not intended to discourage members from playing in order to make room for tourists and other guests, who pay more per round.

“I can’t say that we would be able to replace those member tours with guest tours. Membership is a huge part of the business,” he said.

There are other courses that use the more flexible fee structure, he said, adding that member reaction to the change has been mixed.

Michael C. Ford