The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013 - (Page 5)

AGE AND DISCOUNTS Seniors in their golden years, but are you? Course operators may want to consider raising their senior discount age By Harvey Silverman “G etting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough”…Groucho Marx Another birthday recently passed, not a milestone birthday, but I’m now closing in on one. So I told my lovely wife Bonaventure (yes, her given name) that I’ve decided to stop counting. It doesn’t really matter to me anymore, and I’m assured of receiving constant reminders from AARP, Social Security, and the various rewards programs I subscribe to anyway, so why torture myself by keeping count? Others are doing it for me. I played golf on my birthday with my friend Ollie. Playing with Ollie is what it must be like to play with Robin Williams. Ollie has a hundred voices and a thousand lines to go with them. When he plays, he never keeps score (and others who play with him can’t either). “Why ruin a beautiful day when all you care about is a number,” Ollie will say in his finest Irish lilt. But then he said something that hit me right between the bags under my eyes: “Now you’re that much closer to getting senior rates at more golf courses.” Unfortunately, he’s right. Watching “senior age” creep lower in the golf industry has been a bone of contention of Pellucid collaborator Stuart Lindsay for some time. And when we look under the covers, what we find may convince you to increase the senior age at your facility, or abandon senior rates altogether. Pellucid pointed out in the 2013 State of the Industry report that 60% of all golf rounds are played by people age 50 and over; and 48% of all rounds played are by people age 55 and older. These percentages are not going to drop. In fact, they may increase as golf continues to fail to attract younger customers. More on that later. In essence, discounted senior rates reward people who play the most with lower rates. That may not be a bad thing based on your market and other factors, but the question then becomes what is the best age for courses to establish for eligibility. The philosophy behind senior rate discounts starts, or should start, with the premise that people of a certain age have limited income to spend on discretionary activities like golf. If correct, is that at age 55? 60? 62? 65? Or even older? Who was the first to decide 55 was the right age, and what did this person use to support that decision? My guess is that the age creep to lower numbers was fueled by the pervasive follow-the-leader mentality found in the golf industry. “Hey, my competitor down the street just lowered his senior age to 39 – I’d better too.” Thank you, Jack Benny. Taking Ollie’s statement further, I wondered who defines the age of seniority? The most logical would be the Social Se- curity age when we qualify for benefits – 62. AARP, what my lovely wife calls “the senior discount wonderland,” notifies us (over and over and over) at 50 that we not only can or should retire, but that by joining their legions we can obtain discounts by the boatload and thus tuck more of our hard earned cash into our 401k’s and IRA’s. I looked at senior ages in other industries, to see what I might look forward to and benefit from. Most major airlines, including United, Southwest and American, have discounted fares for seniors age 65 and older. But if you fly Bearskin Airlines in Canada (it’s true – check it out), you can get a discounted senior rate at age 50. Greyhound’s senior age is 62. Hyatt, Holiday Inn, DoubleTree, and Marriot are 62. La Quinta has the oldest at 65, and Starwood and Wyndham the youngest at 50. Best Western is 55, and Motel 6 and Radisson are 60. Want senior discount movie tickets? The most common age to qualify is 62. Want senior discount sporting event tickets? There are some, although they are hard to find. Most commonly the age is 65. Many of the companies listed above, along with all car rental companies and thousands of others offer AARP member rates. Meaning at the end of the day, unless you just don’t want to pay the AARP annual fee ($16 a year including a spouse), discounts are prolific for those 50 and over. How pervasive is the 55 senior designation? Mike Dickoff, CEO of, spent a good deal of time and money examining public golf course websites to create a database not found anywhere else. He shared with us some numbers, including the senior age at nearly 4000 courses. Here are his findings: Age % of courses 50 2.5% 55 21% 60 29% 62 17% 65 6% Unknown 25% Taking the numbers from the chart above, more than 50% of courses that have senior rates have decided that age 60 or younger defines this ripe market. I have yet to see a golf course offer AARP discounts, but after this article publishes, who knows? But as a higher percentage of rounds are played by The Pellucid PersPecTive 5 http://WWW.PELLUCIDCORP.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013

The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013
Are golf ’s nonprofit “emperors” fiddling while Rome burns?
Seniors in their golden years, but are you?
A new determinant on “weather” golfers play or not?
Golf needs a voice in the regulatory process
September golf weather impact: Positive month caps positive Q3
Established SF courses leap-frog larger markets
ClubCorp IPO shares priced lower than expected at opening, rise 10% in debut
The show must go on

The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013