The benefits of pay memberships continue to expand too. Some offer an official Southern California Golf Assn. handicap, access to member-only tournaments and additional discounts such as two-for-one golf.
Carran said if the industry is to continue to grow, it will need access to more times at more courses, which would require cooperation from more course operators. But heavily played municipal courses have yet to sign on. Also, some courses see a stigma attached to offering discount rates and won't grant access to times.
"A municipal that does 250 players a day really has no reason to offer discounts," Carran said. "And there are others who look at it as prestige to not offer discounts. They don't want to be associated with discounting."
But Bryon Smith, director of golf at Eagle Glen, said those courses are missing out on some business they might not otherwise get. He said he's seen a dramatic increase in the number of Asian golfers in the two years his course has been offering tee times to discount sites.
"It allows them to book tee times without the difficulty of the language barrier getting in the way," Smith said.
Online tee time services take the payment at the time of reservation, so all golfers need to do is check in at the pro shop, show their receipt and head off to the driving range.
"You don't have a lot of lollygagging in the pro shop with people trying to figure out who's paying and running four different credit cards," Smith said. "It takes five seconds and boom, you're on the course."
And while the courses lose money by selling times at a discount, they can recoup those losses in labor costs.
"We don't have to have as many people in the pro shop helping customers because it goes so quick," Smith said. "We don't have to have anyone manning the phones taking tee times. I think you're going to see a lot more courses go this route because in the end, it saves money."
And that, after all, is something everyone loves to do.