The ABC's of Selling Golf: Q&A with Scott Head, Director of Golf

Scott Head, a Class A member of the Professional Golfers of America (PGA) discusses trends in selling golf vacations with Russ Pate, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a co-founder and past president of the Texas Golf Writers Association.

TW: How will selling golf vacations change in the new millennium?

Head: The internet has changed many of the ways we conduct commerce. It has become an integral part in travel and is rapidly becoming a vehicle for booking tee time reservations. Presently, it can be cumbersome and difficult to secure a tee time reservation immediately on behalf of your client unless there is someone on the other end of the phone at the facility you are calling. Eventually, the consumer as well as the travel agent will be able to get a real time reservation for golf, conduct research on courses in a specific area, create a profile for a player based on budget or other preferences and find courses in an area which fit that profile.

TW: How can travel agents prepare themselves for this change?

Head: This technology is already available, but not on a large scale yet. I think an alliance between travel suppliers and the internet/software companies needs to develop. The golf courses will come on board once the concept is more readily accepted.

TW: Can you cite any demographic changes in golf travel?

Head: As a general trend, we are seeing more women and junior golfers entering the game as first-time players. Even as a high-end resort property we are seeing this firsthand.

TW: How far in advance should golf vacations be booked to ensure optimal tee times?

Head: The sooner the better, especially if one plans to travel during a peak season. We accept tee times 30 days in advance at Princeville, however, our data suggests that most of our reservations are taken within a week of the day of play. Most people wait to make tee times. Therefore one will have an advantage if they call early.

TW: What are the basics agents need to know about golf to serve their clients?

Head: In order to provide a minimal level of service it is imperative for an agent to understand golf terminology, have at least a working knowledge of how the game is played and how golf courses operate and manage tee time reservations. Golf lingo can be a foreign language. Without this knowledge they are certain to fail.

TW: What general advice would you offer travel agents just beginning to focus on golf travel?

Head: If they are focusing on a region or destination, they should develop a database of golf courses open to the public in that area, including rack rates, discount times, advance reservation policies, lodging, etc. They should find out about greens aerification, fairway overseeding or any other type of major golf course maintenance which may affect the playability of the course. There is nothing worse than to show up at a registration desk for a round of golf only to find out the greens have just been aerified. That is a good way to lose a client quick.

TW: Are there any areas of confusion or misunderstanding about booking golf vacations that typically need to be resolved?

Head: It has been my experience that most agents who are in the business of selling golf are very educated. Most do their homework. They must in order to succeed. The agents that stay away from selling golf probably do so because they don't understand the game, or perhaps feel it is not worth their time and effort. When you consider that there are over 27 million golfers in the country, many of whom will travel domestically and internationally to play golf, this is an important market that travel agents cannot afford to ignore.

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