The Planner wakes up in a cold sweat just after dawn and stumbles
toward the phone. The pressure's
on. The Planner's golf
buddies have entrusted him with the biggest responsibility of
the week -- getting a Saturday
morning tee time at the everpopular Lush Acres.
The Planner knows that Lush Acres begins taking Saturday
reservations at 6:30 Wednesday mornings, so he begins dialing
the clubhouse phone at 6:29:30. No luck. The line is busy. For
the next half hour, the Planner hits the redial button dozens
of times before he finally connects with Tad, a chipper clubhouse
employee who breaks the news: "Nothing
available Saturday morning, but we can squeeze you in at 2."
The Planner declines the later spot, knowing that at least
two of his partners have family obligations Saturday afternoon.
play Lush Acres in late October,"
the Planner thinks.
A cherished tee time
Many Minnesota golfers can relate to the Planner. For most weekend
players, securing a morning tee time is a challenge akin to hitting
a 1iron. It's
hard to think of any business that turns down as many customers
as a popular Minnesota golf course during the summer.
The morning weekend tee time is the holy grail because it
allows a golfer to play 18 holes and still get home in time to
enjoy other weekend activities during Minnesota's
short summers, not to mention mowing the lawn and painting the
Earlymorning golfers find the greens in better condition
and, generally, the pace of play is quicker because more experienced
players are likely to hustle for early reservations. (The foursome
of onceayear hackers with a cooler full of beer typically
doesn't tee off until
Getting an early weekend tee time requires homework, persistence
and sometimes a little luck. Expanding the list of courses you'll
consider can help. And you might want to spend some money on a
patron card or membership program that may give you an edge over
Minneapolis resident Scott Anderson plays less summer golf
than he would like, in part because desirable weekend tee times
are so hard to get. In addition, some of Anderson's
friends have patron cards at Braemar Golf Course in Edina, where
only city residents can buy the cards. Still, Anderson occassionally
will drag himself out of bed to drive to Hiawatha Golf Club at
6:30 a.m. on a Wednesday to make a reservation for the following
Hiawatha, a city of Minneapolis course, requires that weekend
reservations be made in person, and Anderson said it's
not unusual for a line to form at 6:30 a.m.
"If you don't
get the early tee time, you don't
get out until 10 or 11. And by the time you're
done playing, the whole day is shot and you're
in the doghouse with your family,"
said the 38yearold father of two.
The long drive
Unlike Anderson, many golfers are willing to traverse the metro
area in search of the perfect tee time. At Baker National Golf
Course in Medina -- one
of the most popular Twin Cities courses -- 60
percent of those who play the course drive 25 minutes or more
to get there, said Michael Turnbull, PGA head pro and course manager.
And many do it every Saturday or Sunday.
For $80, golfers can buy one of 600 tee-time reservation
cards sold by Baker National. This year, nearly all of the cards
sold out in two days, Turnbull said.
The general public can make reservations three days in advance
at Baker, which fills 75 percent of its available tee times each
year. However, a tee-time cardholder gets one extra day, and for
every card in your group you get another day. For example, a
foursome with three cardholders can call for a tee time six days
The chances of a foursome with just one cardholder getting
a prime weekend tee time are slim, Turnbull said, because many
groups of cardholders stick together from year to year.
"We have a pretty loyal
following," he explained.
"I wanted to create
some value for this tee time card,"
he said. "It's
a little bit cumbersome for us, because we get people calling
us every day [for reservations]. But I think it creates more value
for people. Just one card isn't
going to get you on."