Qantas launches new 'golf club' for frequent flyers

Golf's fairways and putting greens have always been a battleground of sorts, whether it's a duel with your opponent, your handicap or just your pride.

Now Qantas has announced that dozens of golf courses around Australia will form the latest frontline in its ongoing stoush with airline rival Virgin Australia.

The launch of the 'Qantas Golf Club' this week means any Qantas Frequent Flyer program member can earn points on what they spend on golf green fees, plus book tee times online and have access to tournaments, events and golfing holidays.

Of course ...

The catch lies in your course selection. At the moment the program includes 65 courses around Australia – covering every state and territory – with Qantas promising to add more.

However, that current selection narrows to 45 unless you're willing to pay a $249 annual fee for access to a premium service. Members of the airline's elite Platinum One tier of the frequent flyer program receive complimentary premium access.

That extra spend brings access to 20 private courses that don't usually welcome green fee players. Additionally, you earn three frequent flyer points for every dollar spent (rather than one) and can also receive an official Golf Australia handicap.

Participating is likely to be particular challenging for Sydney-based members of the program. Just one course, Macquarie Links in south-west Sydney, is within an hour's drive of the Sydney CBD. In a further sting, that sole selection sits on the premium list.

In fact, NSW-based players in general can feel a little shortchanged with just 12 courses listed throughout the state, half of which sit on the premium list. Victorians (26 courses, 15 premium) and Queenslanders (24, 11) have far wider choice, including numerous urban options.

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Elsewhere, WA has six courses listed (three premium), Tasmania has four (one premium), SA has two (one premium) and the territories one each.

Early interest

Qantas's CEO of Loyalty, Lesley Grant, says the airline has been pleased with early response to the program, with more than 40,000 of its existing members flagging interest.

"This reflects the passion for golf our members have and shows how keen they are to earn Qantas points playing the game they love," she says.

Qantas has aggressively pursued a number of initiatives designed to lure the loyalty of regular flyers, as direct rival Virgin Australia beefs up its own loyalty program and continues to target business customers.

The Red Roo has this year launched the business-focused Aquire program that allocates extra frequent flyer points to flights booked by companies, and the EpiQure community that targets the interests of food and wine-loving program members.

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