the city of angels

L.A. County cracks down on ‘black-market’ tee-time brokers after months-long battle

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Harry How

Back in March, we published a story called “Los Angeles golfers furious as black-market tee-time brokers buy up and resell tee times for profit.” According to a Los Angeles Times report, it had become nearly impossible to book affordable tee times around Los Angeles due to greedy third-party buyers snatching up everything available and upselling them to buyers of their choosing for profit. What L.A. quickly learned is that you really, really don’t want to make golfers angry.

A group of frustrated foursomes sued the city, stating that local officials hadn’t done enough to right this wrong and that they were being priced out of a game they loved at municipal courses that should be available to all. They also started a #Freethetee campaign, asking followers to tag those in power to help fix the issue.

"It's 30 days in a row, at 6 a.m., the only times that are returned on the dot, are 2 p.m. times. That's just not possible unless something is happening," teaching pro Dave Fink told CBS News.

It looks like L.A. officials heard the complaints as “four councilmembers requested a report on the operation and management of the tee time reservation system.” The city has also started a new program, which requires a nonrefundable $10 deposit to be made while booking tee times. This is supposed to discourage the resellers from taking all the available times.

Los Angeles went on to update its tee-time policies noting that third-party programs for booking tee times are strictly prohibited and that they’ll be monitoring for these automated buyers that have caused so much grief.

“It is prohibited to use any computer program, bot, offline reader, and site search/retrieval application,” the guidelines read. “Other manual or automatic devices, tools, or processes to retrieve, data mine, or in any way reproduce or circumvent the navigational structure, or presentation of the content or the site itself, for obtaining a City of Los Angeles Golf Reservation Tee Time is strictly prohibited. We are closely monitoring reservations that appear to be using the systems/processes stated above. Violations of our policy will result in tee time cancellation and a loss of reservation and playing privileges. Our goal is to make the booking process fair to all golfers who wish to play at our facilities.”

What a nice (hopefully tidy) golf story. Everyone wins, except for the resellers. And honestly, good riddance.