PEI

Why fees at government-owned golf courses are going way up for the biggest users

The P.E.I. government is counting on a new membership fee structure to make getting on its three courses less of a challenge for locals and tourists, following a 2021 season that saw courses jam-packed on many days. 

After a busy 2021 season, the province is trying to ensure there are tee times for more golfers

A full membership to all three government-owned courses, including the Links at Crowbush Cove seen here, is increasing from $1,635 to $2,500. Golfers will also now have the option to pay less to play a limited number of rounds. (Tourism PEI/Evan Schiller)

The P.E.I. government is counting on a new membership fee structure to make getting on its three courses less of a challenge for locals and tourists, following a 2021 season that saw courses jam-packed on many days. 

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

But golfers will also have the option to pay less to play a set number of rounds through the season. For example, 40 rounds at the three courses will cost $1,360.

"It's more built around equity, and the ability for people to buy the number of rounds they want to play," said Ryan Garrett, manager of the three courses. 

"It also does put a little more accountability on our members to value the tee times they're making ... It could very easily happen that, for whatever reason, a member books a time for four people, and two don't know the reservation was made, and only two show up ... We definitely, at the end of last year, could've used those two spots for either another guest or another member."

Trying to serve members and tourists

The no-shows were less of a frustration before this past season, Garrett said, as there were lots of tee times available. 

In 2020, with P.E.I. only open to Atlantic travellers, it was largely members playing 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, those members were left competing for tee times with a large number of tourists, he said. 

"We're serving two clients — the visiting golfers and the members," said Garrett. "And with only so many times, when both numbers go up, it's tough to do a good job of serving both clients."

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

Garrett said the membership fee changes aren't aimed at discouraging members from playing in order to leave room for tourists and other guests, who pay more per round.

"I can't say we'd be able to replace those member rounds with guest rounds. Membership is an important part of the business," he said. 

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

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