This is the second post in a two-part post on greens fees from an interview with Brandon Evans, General Manager & PGA Certified Golf Professional at Village Greens of Woodridge (and self-imposed “Director of Fun and Entertainment”).

In this post, we talk about the breakdown of greens fees and cart fees.

CGN: What’s the first thing course management looks at when determining the cost?

BE: Like nearly any other business, what price do we charge to maximize both revenue and customer satisfaction/value?

Some courses try to earn revenues on a volume basis, while others may want to keep the amount of play a little lower but achieve a slightly higher revenue-per-round figure. Each course walks a fine line between price and perceived value. When the perceived value side of the equation tips in one way or the other, changes are made to the pricing. Perceived value could be determined by a number of factors… weather, time of year, time of week, time of day, pace of play, customer service, course conditions, cleanliness of bathrooms…etc.

CGN: Does popularity, difficulty, course type, grass type, location, average rounds per day (etc, etc, etc) have an effect?

BE: All of the things mentioned above. Difficulty of the course can be a double edged sword… some people want to say they played the PGA Tour course in their town, or the course with water on 15 holes, but after losing a dozen balls and shooting 15 strokes above their average, the novelty may wear off. Village Greens of Woodridge happens to be in a great location and we receive a ton of play because it’s so convenient to get to our facility… one of our biggest strengths.

CGN: What percentages of the costs go into course management, course maintenance, course employees, etc?

BE: It’s all over the board. I have seen budgets from dozens of courses in Chicago and very few are similar. However, labor will typically take up 30%-60% of a budget, maintenance excluding labor about 15%-40%, debt and capital expenditures from 0% – 15%.

CGN: How about cart fees… is there a science to pricing those?

BE: Yes. A fleet of golf cars can cost several hundred thousand dollars, amortized over the 5-10 year useful life of a car. Factor in gas or electric costs, maintenance and repair, and daily labor to clean and store the cars, and you arrive at a cost-per-car expense. Some of these expenses are obviously fixed expenses, while others are variable.

On the revenue side, a course considers the percentage of riding vs. walking rounds (or average cart rentals per day), competitors pricing, desired profit level, and a few other components to arrive at an appropriate price to charge.

While greens fees are all over the board, riding car fees are fairly homogenized in Chicago, usually around $10 for 9-hole and $16-$20 for 18-holes.