Pace and Pivot
Boyne Resorts is opening up the game of golf like never before.
Bay Harbor Golf Club in northern Michigan, operated by Boyne Resorts, offers 27 holes within a resort setting. In addition, Boyne Resorts has added golfboards for three of its courses.
After more than 40 years with Boyne Resorts, Bernie Friedrich, senior vice president of golf and resort sales, isn’t slowing down. He’s too busy reinventing operations for the resort’s nine Michigan golf courses, with a focus on growing the game while boosting the company’s bottom line.
From its approach to selling tee times to allowing blue jeans on its courses, a nod to millennial players, Friedrich is shaking up the established practices at resort golf operations.
The 2018 golf season marks the third year Boyne Resorts, based in Boyne Falls, has thrown out its standard green fee schedule in favor of Friedrich’s dynamic pricing model that allows each Boyne course to charge various fees depending on when visitors book, and the demand on the day or time golfers want to play.
Similar to the practice of airline companies, players who book early get the best shot at cheaper rates. Midweek or afternoons yield the best prices. Groups that may be price-sensitive can go online and sort out the best price Boyne may be offering at particular times on any of its seven courses in the Petoskey area at Boyne Highlands Resort, Bay Harbor, Crooked Tree, Hidden River Golf and Casting Club, and the Monument and Alpine golf courses in Boyne Falls.
“I don’t know why all golf courses aren’t using some form of the dynamic price model,” Friedrich says. “There’s a cap on the number of people you can play on your golf course, and when a nine o’clock tee time is gone, it’s gone forever. We continue to fine-tune our formula for dynamic pricing for each course. We’ve found that we can move people around who are price-sensitive or don’t have time restrictions. They can play at different periods of the day, so it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.”
One of the golf boards added to three of the Boyne Resort courses.
Friedrich says the pricing model has reaped significant revenue increases for Boyne, which today generates 120,000 annual rounds. At Boyne’s premium attraction, Bay Harbor Golf Club — where rounds usually cost between $100 and $125 — dynamic pricing allowed the resort to book 100 rounds at its maximum rate of $325.
“I never, ever dreamed that a $125 golf course would yield up to $325. On the other hand, we had rounds of $70,” he says. “We actually surpassed our best two years back to back, which is very unusual. The number of rounds is basically flat, or less than 3 percent up, but the revenue has grown substantially.”
Dynamic pricing and blue jeans on the courses aren’t the only new-wave thinking Friedrich has put into play. Music is now allowed on carts, as long as the volume is respectful of other golfers. USB ports are now standard on Boyne’s golf carts, as well.
The most notable addition is golf boards — imagine a snowboard propelled by a small motor that functions as a golf cart. The golf boards debuted at Boyne Highlands two years ago, and this season there are 16 available on three of the courses with flatter terrain.
As for wearing blue jeans on the golf courses, Friedrich says there was some initial pushback from Boyne’s club members.
“I asked them, ‘What restaurant can you go to in northern Michigan and not wear jeans?’ ” Friedrich says. “Besides, they aren’t going to wear jeans in the summer. They’ll wear them in the (cooler) shoulder seasons, and who cares? The sport has to become less exclusive. The game used to be played in a sport coat and tie. We have to make all these changes to appeal to all ages and grow the game.”