If Michael Maness and the Van Dyck twins had their way, every day would be spent on the course. The trio bonded playing golf as students at the University of South Carolina. Eric and Ross Van Dyck then caddied for Maness when he toured as a pro.
“I like to be around people who love golf,” says Maness, a scratch golfer. “I enjoy the time spent outside. I really enjoy the competition, and it’s an honest sport.”
All three are now in sales with various companies as they build their own company: Traveling Country Club.
“We feel like there’s a gap in the market between private memberships and those trying to find the best deal at the last minute to play,” Ross Van Dyck says. “We fit in the middle. You can play where you want to play, and you’re not locked into one golf course.”
The businessmen conceptualized Traveling Country Club in November 2018. By June the following year they were selling memberships providing discounted tee times at partner courses across South Carolina. Almost 20 clubs are on the list, from Pebble Creek to Caledonia, True Blue to The Rock.
“I have buddies who are members at a private country club paying close to $1,000 a month,” Ross Van Dyck says. “We’re bringing the same country club experience in a more economical way.”
Members pay $85 a month to TCC, as well as an access fee at each course they play. The fee is $20 at all associated Upstate courses, which is typically less than a general visitor fee.
While an umbrella pass to different golf clubs is not new, the use of an app to unite players who hold passes is somewhat novel.
“The app connects members and checks them in at the course,” Ross Van Dyck says. “We also want to focus on the social aspect, and have games, tournaments and outings for members, so we generate the play for them.”
The men worked with an outside contractor to develop the TCC Clubhouse app, which allows players who don’t know each other to network.
“It’s rare to have friends who all enjoy golf and play on the same level,” Eric Van Dyck says. “So, you’re stuck trying to meet people on public courses, or playing by yourself. We want the app to connect people, and have them enjoy the game as much as we do.”
“It brings me new players to play with, and new friends to hang out with,” he says. “I love the group, and I try not to miss any events.”
Options where members such as Thomas can hit have already doubled, and will continue to multiply. The co-founders plan to lock in more links in Columbia and expand into Charlotte in the coming months.
“They’ve all been receptive,” Ross Van Dyck says. “That’s been the biggest surprise. Golf courses are under attack with profitability. Our program allows the course to pick an access fee that matches their profitability target, and that way they don’t have to discount their rates online.”
Paul Albert, director of golf at The Preserve at Verdae, finds TCC brings good value — and a younger crowd — to his operation.
“The crowd is younger,” he says. “It’s been great seeing new, young professionals showing up to play at our course.”
Not only is TCC bridging golf’s economy gap, it’s bridging the age gap as well.
“We really want to grow the game,” Ross Van Dyck says. “I think it’s like 40% of all golfers are 60 or older. We want to attract the younger golfer who doesn’t have the money to spend on private country clubs, but they want to be a part of something that connects them. If we do this correctly, we will create a new sub-segment that will maintain the game for years to come, as older guys stop playing as much.”
Traveling Country Club partners
Traveling Country Club has partnerships with the following golf courses:
- The Preserve at Verdae
- The Creek Golf Club
- Cobb’s Glen Golf Club
- Southern Oaks Golf Club
- Boscobel Golf and Country Club
- Legacy Pines Golf Club
- Caledonia Golf and Fish Club
- True Blue Golf Club
- Paris Mountain Country Club
- Diamond Back Golf Course
- Lakeview Golf Club
- Pebble Creek
- The Rock Golf Club
- Country Club of Newberry
- River Falls Plantation
- The Club at Brookstone
- Cherokee Valley
- Indian River Golf Club
Members also receive discounts from TCC partners, including:
- Orange Whip
- Southern Tide
- Chicora Alley
- Carolina Indoor Golf
- Greenville Office Supply
- Blackburn Golf