AZLE — “The post-covid golf economy continues to thrive,” Matthew Summerfield, Cross Timbers Golf Course general manager said at an Azle City Council meeting last month.
The sport of golf is in a renaissance. In 2023, the Professional Golfers' Association of America saw the season’s total prize money rise to $460 million. The Ladies Professional Golf Association also saw a $101.4 million purse total, up from $86 million last year. The PGA Superstore had a 90% increase in sales between 2020 and 2022. As a result of increased demand and inflation, many courses, like Cross Timbers, have begun charging more per round.
“We have hosted 45,000 rounds over the past fiscal year,” Summerfield said. “Although we continue to set revenue records and rounds records, we need to remain proactive on ways to increase revenue. Our costs never go down. We’re feeling the inflation glut ourselves. Research shows we’re leaving revenue on the table. Our last price increase was in 2021.”
After an earlier city council meeting in which Mayor Pro Tem Randa Goode came out in support of implementing a resident rate, Summerfield returned to the next meeting to submit proposed new rates for approval.
“The thing that I have an issue with is that seniors, military, students, they get (discounts) so somebody from Springtown is going to get a discount that somebody in the city limits of Azle is not,” Goode said. “That’s what I have an issue with. If we are giving discounts to anybody then we should include a resident rate.”
During the subsequent Dec. 5 city council meeting, Summerfield and the council reached an agreement that raised rates by about $6 on average.
“We expected a decrease in revenue implementing this resident rate, so we had to make up that increase,” Summerfield said. “Essentially, we’re going to start charging the nonresidents a little bit more. This keeps us in a very competitive market. The biggest increase you’re going to see is that weekend senior, military, student rate. That increase is because the majority of our competition do not offer this discount on the weekends.”
The course will begin implementing a verification process for the resident rate in January. During the meeting, Summerfield recommended using a resident’s water bill and matching it with their driver’s license once per year.
Summerfield says the course was subsidized by taxpayers for many years, but by the end of this year should have paid back the general fund. Summerfield also prosed the council consider putting some of general fund into a capital improvement fund for the future.
“The golf course was built in 1995, so things are starting to get a little bit older and are going to have to be improved or redone at some point in time. Those are going to be big ticket items down the road. I’m always trying to think about in the future,” Summerfield said.
According to Summerfield and the council, more changes in golf rates may be on the horizon.
“We’re turning down a lot of people on weekends because we’re so full,” Summerfield said.
Summerfield said the course had to turn away 150 people on the Friday after Thanksgiving because the course was at capacity. Mayor Brundrett recommended doing away with the weekend discount in the future with that being their peak time and to instead use discounts during the course’s slowest times to incentivize more business and revenue generation. Summerfield said weekend discounts are not common among other golf courses in the area and some players are even surprised when they learn Cross Timbers offers them. Summerfield described how some courses are even doing dynamic pricing based on demand in order to award time slots to the highest bidder but did not suggest the council follow this route.
New unlimited passes are now $3,150 per year, an increase of $250 per year. Weekday passes are $2,650 per year, an increase of $250 per year. Additional family member add-ons are $1,000 year, an increase of $100 per year. Cross Timbers Golf Course caps the number of weekday and unlimited passholders at 75. Currently, no new unlimited passes are being issued, but there are still 27 weekday pass spots available. Summerfield estimated that, on average, last year’s passes cost passholders about $26.44 per round over a total of 8,975 passholders rounds and said holders get their money’s worth by playing at least six times per month. Passholders are guaranteed prime tee times and currently passholders have 10-day priority in booking while nonpassholders have seven.
Even with the increase in rates, Summerfield stresses that Cross Timbers still has some of the best deals around, with Grapevine’s peak rate being $70, Euless’ being $85 and Arlington’s $125.
**All prices include cart rental.