Elgin eliminates dynamic pricing for residents, seniors at 2 golf courses

  • Jim Miller of Geneva golfed last week at The Highlands of Elgin golf course. Elgin implemented resident and senior discounts there and at Wing Park golf course after "dynamic pricing" caused prices to nearly double after courses were allowed to reopen May 1.

      Jim Miller of Geneva golfed last week at The Highlands of Elgin golf course. Elgin implemented resident and senior discounts there and at Wing Park golf course after "dynamic pricing" caused prices to nearly double after courses were allowed to reopen May 1. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
and seniors at two of its three golf cou
 
Updated 5/11/2020 6:31 PM

The change took effect Saturday at The Highlands of Elgin and Wing Park golf courses, with golf course websites instructing residents to call the golf shops to pay the reduced pricing.

The changes took effect after a Daily Herald story about increased rates in Elgin in the wake of golf courses reopening May 1. Dynamic pricing is based on computer programming that analyzes multiple variables -- weather, time of day, availability of tee times and more -- and adjusts rates on a competitive model.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Online booking with dynamic pricing still applies to nonresidents, but there is now a "ceiling," so rates don't get too high with high demand, and a "floor," which allows rates to drop even below regular rates if there is low demand, said Mike Lehman, the city's director of golf operations.

Saturday's changes don't apply to the city's third golf course, Bowes Creek Country Club, which has a different rate structure and variables, and where online booking prices currently are below posted rates, Lehman said.

Golfers flocked back to courses after the state of Illinois eased restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing reopening with only two players teeing off every 15 minutes. The city did its best to respond quickly to the changing restrictions and conditions, but the dynamic pricing computer modeling -- never implemented before with course capacity restricted at 29% -- put too much emphasis on the shortage of available tee times, Lehman said.

Golf courses are in a tough spot, because there is pent-up demand from golfers but also much less revenue, he said. "We are just trying to respond to the changes," he said.

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