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Los Angeles officials crack down on city golf course tee time brokers

Free the Tee Times!
Free the Tee Times! 03:33

In an effort to crack down on so-called black market tee time brokers at city golf courses, Los Angeles city leaders continue to investigate the municipal reservation system and implement measures to stop the buying and reselling of tee times.

The city recently adopted a new program that went into effect April 16, which requires a nonrefundable deposit of $10 per booked round for each player. This is intended to dissuade brokers from reselling tee times.  

This week, four councilmembers requested a report on the operation and management of the tee time reservation system.

They are also looking to prohibit the use of automated programs that book tee times, similar to concert and sporting event ticket scalpers. These oversight measures come by way of a motion, introduced to the city council on Tuesday.

Frustration bubbled recently, as golfers were having a difficult time getting morning tee times on the city's courses, and it was discovered that brokers were snatching them up and selling them.

One man's determination helped to bring this to light, through a social media campaign he called "Free the Tee."

"Someone is buying all the tee-times with bots, and reselling them on the black market," said Dave Fink in a social post.  

Fink is a Los Angeles native and golf influencer and teaching pro. Fink said he and many others have been complaining for years that its nearly impossible to get a tee time at an L.A. municipal course.

"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," Fink said.  He and some friends took it upon themselves to investigate, and he eventually got the broker's phone number.

Along came his #Freethetee campaign, where he asked followers on social media to tag L.A. City and tell them "this is not okay."

Kevin Fitzgerald, with the Southern California Golf Association took notice. "It was clear to me that it looks like there are tee times available if you pay this service charge to this concierge service, this broker. That's red flags across the board," Fitzgerald said.

Fink and a group of other golfers joined a March 2024 L.A. City Golf Advisory Committee meeting to share what they uncovered, and demand change.

The City of Los Angeles got the message and officials have been working to stop the brokering, as resale or third-party programs for booking tee times are strictly prohibited, according to city policy.

The city updated its policy on its golf reservation website warning about the use of automated programs to book tee times, noting that it is closely monitoring reservations that appear to be using any automated system.

"It is prohibited to use any computer program, bot, offline reader, and site search/retrieval application" according to that policy. 

"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."

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