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September 2019

They’re History! Or Are They?

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By Jared Williams
Managing Director 
GOLF USA TEE TIME COALITION

I am never going back. The past is in the past. Let it go!

You have to forgive me for having a moment where I can’t get the theme song to Disney’s “Frozen” out of my head. Most of you with children have probably had similar experiences. But those words sung by Elsa, “the past is in the past, let it go” could actually prove to be sound advice for those of us paying close attention to the Tee Time Distribution space.

The companies, the acquisitions, the business models, the revenue strategies, the accepted methods of payments – to say there are many of them would be an understatement. While the revenue models and business practices are evolving and changing, with each new company that comes to market, we also see a great number of acquisitions taking place.

I believe this industry is reaching or has reached its limit on the number of viable players (companies) that can exist and thrive in the software segment of online tee time distribution (OTTD). A quick glance at the history of OTTD, teetimecoalition.org/history, and you will see that this is exactly what has happened repeatedly over the last 25 years.

Only going back seven years, you will see Fore Reservations was sold to GolfNow. EZLinks acquired Golf18 Network, Coursetrends, and IBS. Supreme Golf acquired GolfBook (formerly GolfPipeline) and is rumored to be finalizing the purchase of one of the leading software companies.

Often, golf courses are faced with the reality that two or three vendors become part of a singular company to which they have no existing relationship. There’s an acclimation phase for both the course and the vendor. GolfNow and EZLinks have experienced some of the difficulties in acquiring disparate systems – specifically keeping them running optimally and trying to streamline those offerings with any proprietary software they may already offer or be developing. 

If you’re confused by all of this and can’t quite figure out which companies are allies, frenemies or downright adversaries, then good. You should be. This space I sometimes liken to the storylines in professional wrestling. As soon as you think you have the space figured out and you can identify the fan favorites and the heels, there’s always a new wrinkle or development that forces you to pause and reconsider.

You have to leave the past in the past. Any preconceived notions you may have about a company’s product, business model or revenue strategy should be taken with a grain of salt following a sale, merger or acquisition.

The most recent news in this regard came in late July as Allegiant Airlines announced it was looking to sell Teesnap, a golf management software firm with almost 600 golf course clients. Some of Teesnap’s competitors might revel in the news of a proposed sale, thinking about opportunities to grow their client base at Teesnap’s expense. Teesnap executives (and Allegiant for that matter) see the sale as a move that is best for all involved, as the company’s growth has made it difficult for Allegiant to provide the support and resources it needs to continue to grow.

Whatever the case may be, I recommend we all take a wait and see approach, let the dust settle, and see what all of this means for Teesnap and the golf management software landscape.

What are your thoughts? Is the market too crowded? Do we need more or fewer software and distribution providers? Have you experienced the drawbacks or benefits of having your existing provider merge with or be sold to another company? What changes did you notice? Please do not hesitate to contact me (jwilliams@teetimecoalition.org).

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