The acquisition strengthens NBC Sports’ iron grip on golf time booking, adding to the group’s expansive portfolio. In addition to owning the Golf Channel, the media company also owns GolfNow, EZLinks' biggest competitor.
Most golfers know EZLinks from its online reservation hub, TeeOff.com—akin to restaurant reservation site OpenTable—which offers thousands of tee-time options at courses in 23 countries. Courses list times and prices there, and EZLinks takes a cut of each booking.
Although EZLinks operates the largest golf call center and offers cutting-edge technology for golf course operators, the company is still second to GolfNow in terms of online traffic. A joint venture between the PGA Tour and EZLinks in 2015, however, put serious media muscle behind the Chicago-based company.
NBC Sports declined to disclose how much it paid for EZLinks. A representative for EZLinks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
GolfNow and EZLinks have long fought for control over the tee-time booking market, which has seen a decline in recent years. There were 434 million rounds of golf played nationwide in 2018, a 4.8 percent decline from the year before, according to the National Golf Foundation’s most recent report.
The relationship between the two competitors has been anything but friendly—EZLinks sued GolfNow in 2012, alleging the industry giant stole confidential trade secrets through the hiring of a former EZLinks employee. Prior to the lawsuit, EZLinks turned down a buyout offer from GolfNow. The two companies eventually reached a settlement.
Consumers aren't expected to see immediate changes as a result of the merger. Golfers can still use GolfNow and TeeOff.