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Reciprocals Between Private Clubs - What's your experience?


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#1 dachtor

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:42 AM

I've been a member of private club just outside Atlanta for about 10 years. I love the club, the people, the course, etc. I play 99% of my golf there and don't get tired of it. That said, a couple times a year I travel to other places either on vacation, golf trips, etc and would like to be able to play. However, it's EXPENSIVE to pay to play somewhere else when you are already paying to be a member at "home".

In thinking outside the box a bit, it seems that clubs could do more to offer reciprocals. Now this will only work if you compare apples to apples. Example, my club is never going to get a reciprocal with Frederica. However, I'm sure there are other, similar cost, private clubs in the Saint Simons or Atlantic Coast area that could benefit from additional play and would also like to offer a benefit to their members who may travel to Atlanta.

So, for those of you who are members of private clubs, a few questions.......
  • Does your home club have reciprocal benefits at another club?
  • What is the proximity of that club to your home course?
  • What are the costs to play (cart fee, discount)?
  • Are there limits on weekday vs weekend?
  • How often do you utilize it and has it boosted rounds played at your home club?

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#2 raynorfan1

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:00 AM

We don't have formal reciprocity with other clubs, but we have a big membership, many of whom belong to multiple clubs, so the pro staff can pretty easily get you out on other courses.

I think the hard thing with reciprocal arrangements is that golf clubs are rarely apples to apples. With unlimited reciprocal play, it's tough for one club to not feel like they're being taken advantage of.

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#3 JerseyBoy

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:01 AM

The club where I am a social member does not offer this to it's full members.

That being said, I *think* that the clubs in the area that are owned by Ron Jaworski do indeed offer reciprocity, but only with the other clubs he owns. Member of one, but can play at others for a discount.

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#4 ani5009

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 10:07 AM

My club does offer reciprocals with other clubs. In past years there was only 1 club offered and it was a solid hour and 20 minute drive, so I never took advantage of it. This year, my club got involved with a club about 30 minutes away, and we began offering reciprocals there as well, although I have yet to play this new course.

We have a small fee ($50-$75) to sign-up for the reciprocal program, and then you are required to pay any cart fees at the other course. Caddies are apparently optional at the closer reciprocal course, but you would be on the hook for that as well. The only limit I am aware of is that you can only play 10 reciprocal rounds in a year.

I know we have had quite a few members from the other clubs come to play our course, but I only know of a few of our guys that have gone to the other courses for a round. I'm planning on giving it a shot next year.
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#5 vallygolf

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 11:49 AM

My experience is that if you go in asking for a specific club it may be difficult.  If you know your head pro well and let them know you are traveling to XYZ area and would be interested possible access to a great private track if they know of one, many times they can make an arrangement with other professional friends, or may contact a great course that may be financially willing to take you on.  I have played quite a few great courses this way.  If the pro doesnt make a suggestion where to try then usually I go the public route.


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#6 jloveless

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 12:49 PM

I am a Club Corp member in Atlanta, White Columns. I am off on Mondays so I use the playing privileges at other clubs such as The Manor, Atlanta National and others. Club Corp allows members to play other courses twice a month for just a cart fee, $18-$25 depending on the course. I have not used this privilege when traveling but will try it when available. I have played 8 different CC courses in the last 3 months, great for my game to have variety. There are restrictions for reciprocal play, usually before noon on Friday and after 12 on Sunday.

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#7 az2au

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 04:43 PM

View Postvallygolf, on 11 October 2017 - 11:49 AM, said:

My experience is that if you go in asking for a specific club it may be difficult.  
I’ve never had an issue with specific requests and they are successful >90% of the time. Our head pro has always been glad to make the call. We do have a very large percentage of members that belong to at least one other club so I’m sure that helps but it always matters that he has been in place for almost 20 years and has built a lot of relationships across the industry.

In the regions I’ve lived in we’ve always had reciprocal arrangements with local clubs of similar standing/ranking during the offseason, e.g., summer in PHX. I still play virtually 100% of my golf at clubs I belong to when home however. The only time I tend to play other courses are when I have friends in town and we do multiple days in a row.

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#8 cherokee8215

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 04:57 PM

We have reciprocal arrangements with a handful of clubs ranging from probably 30 to 90 minutes away. I'm guessing our head pro knows the head pros at those clubs and that's how the relationships formed. We can play those clubs for the equivalent cost of a cart fee. There are generally no tee time restrictions other than before noon on weekends or unless there is some kind of tournament going on at the host club. I'd guess that we host maybe one foursome per week total of reciprocal players from the other clubs, sometimes more if one of them has a member-guest going on. I probably play maybe 5 total rounds at the reciprocal courses during a given year.

At my last club I had the pro set up some rounds for me at other private clubs while traveling several times, I picked clubs of similar or less exclusivity and he always able to get me on, even though I had to pay what amounted to an unaccompanied guest fee.

Having a reciprocal program has been a selling point for every club I've joined during my time playing golf.

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#9 AC168

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:13 PM

Lots of it is driven by how desirable your club is.

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#10 cristphoto

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:39 PM

Our procedure is to have the pro contact another course and get a tee time. We then just pay a guest fee. This works for several clubs in the area. If we are aerating we have a deal with a couple clubs where we can play for free (and their members have the right to play our course when they aerate). We only pay for cart unless we walk. No money changes hands in the grill rooms. Expenses are billed back to our member number.


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#11 4Par

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 06:46 AM

20 reciprocal courses.... vary in distance from 5-125 miles... most are within 1/2 hour drive.  And we pay $25 fee at visiting course (basically paying for the cart).....

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#12 dachtor

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 07:53 AM

View Post4Par, on 12 October 2017 - 06:46 AM, said:

20 reciprocal courses.... vary in distance from 5-125 miles... most are within 1/2 hour drive.  And we pay $25 fee at visiting course (basically paying for the cart).....

This is what I'm talking about!!! Our pro can get us on just about any course in the area, with a few exceptions. However, I don't really consider it a reciprocal if I'm paying a full guest fee. When I talk about a reciprocal, I mean a formal arrangement between two clubs which allows members to play at a substantially discounted rate that is beneficial to both memberships. I agree the two clubs must be similar economically and condition wise for it to make sense.
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#13 4Par

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 08:06 AM

View Postdachtor, on 13 October 2017 - 07:53 AM, said:

View Post4Par, on 12 October 2017 - 06:46 AM, said:

20 reciprocal courses.... vary in distance from 5-125 miles... most are within 1/2 hour drive.  And we pay $25 fee at visiting course (basically paying for the cart).....

This is what I'm talking about!!! Our pro can get us on just about any course in the area, with a few exceptions. However, I don't really consider it a reciprocal if I'm paying a full guest fee. When I talk about a reciprocal, I mean a formal arrangement between two clubs which allows members to play at a substantially discounted rate that is beneficial to both memberships. I agree the two clubs must be similar economically and condition wise for it to make sense.

Full guest fees are significantly higher than $25....

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#14 dachtor

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 08:09 AM

View Post4Par, on 13 October 2017 - 08:06 AM, said:

View Postdachtor, on 13 October 2017 - 07:53 AM, said:

View Post4Par, on 12 October 2017 - 06:46 AM, said:

20 reciprocal courses.... vary in distance from 5-125 miles... most are within 1/2 hour drive.  And we pay $25 fee at visiting course (basically paying for the cart).....

This is what I'm talking about!!! Our pro can get us on just about any course in the area, with a few exceptions. However, I don't really consider it a reciprocal if I'm paying a full guest fee. When I talk about a reciprocal, I mean a formal arrangement between two clubs which allows members to play at a substantially discounted rate that is beneficial to both memberships. I agree the two clubs must be similar economically and condition wise for it to make sense.

Full guest fees are significantly higher than $25....

Yes, that's why I said "this is what I'm talking about". Sounds like a great arrangement for your membership and is exactly what I envision a reciprocal program to be.

Edited by dachtor, 13 October 2017 - 08:09 AM.

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#15 Malvern

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 08:27 AM

View Post4Par, on 12 October 2017 - 06:46 AM, said:

20 reciprocal courses.... vary in distance from 5-125 miles... most are within 1/2 hour drive.  And we pay $25 fee at visiting course (basically paying for the cart).....

Clearly reciprocity works differently across countries.

My club has 20 reciprocal clubs, the closest is 1000 miles away, the furthest 11,000.


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#16 Roody

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 01:17 PM

I only ended up using reciprocal privileges twice this year. Most of the courses are within 30-40 minutes, but we have a few that are several hours away.

I've found that it depends on the reciprocal club, some are easier to make tee times with. In other words, some don't see to care what time of day you ask for a time. Others are pickier.
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#17 North Butte

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 01:23 PM

We have maybe 7 or 8 reciprocal arrangements, all within easy day-trip range of my club. They are typically used when ones own course is unavailable due to tournaments or maintenance.

That said, there is one club on our list that I visit for a round or two a year simply because I like the course. But I also know people there who would invite me as a guest, if the reciprocal were not available.
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#18 Bill Broderick

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 02:40 PM

View Postjloveless, on 11 October 2017 - 12:49 PM, said:

I am a Club Corp member in Atlanta, White Columns. I am off on Mondays so I use the playing privileges at other clubs such as The Manor, Atlanta National and others. Club Corp allows members to play other courses twice a month for just a cart fee, $18-$25 depending on the course. I have not used this privilege when traveling but will try it when available. I have played 8 different CC courses in the last 3 months, great for my game to have variety. There are restrictions for reciprocal play, usually before noon on Friday and after 12 on Sunday.

Club Corp greatest concentration of courses are in the Atlanta and Houston/Dallas areas. Atlanta has 30+ courses within 50 miles of downtown.

Club Corp used to manage the club in my parent's community in Charlotte NC.  The costs were extremely reasonable for community members and my father used to love taking advantage of the reciprocity that was available when he traveled.  Unfortunately, there were members of the homeowners association that hated Club Corp for a variety of stupid reasons.  There were two courses at the club and apparently there were separate contracts for each course.  Club Corp ended up doing something that was contrary to the terms of their contract on one of the courses and the Homeowners association sued them and won.  The result was that the contract on one of the courses became null & void.  Club Corp continued managing the other course for a year or two.  But, eventually they ended up leaving.

The people who were actually members of the club lost out big.  The quality of the club tumbled and they lost low cost reciprocity with a lot of clubs that were much nicer (and more expensive) than their club ever was.

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#19 warfelg

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 10:39 AM

I've worked at courses that have done reciprocals, ones that haven't.  Both handled this stuff differently.

The one that did:
We sat down staff to staff with courses in the area that were of similar quality.  We laid out all of our event dates, league days, MGA event days.  Typically with courses open to it, we agreed that days our course was closed due to events, we would set up a "no fee" day (just pay the cart fee) for our members, and we returned the favor.  So if we set up 4 days for our members to go there, we gave them 4 days in return.  We used league and MGA days, as well as heavy traffic times to set up "no go" times.  Basically if they wanted to play Saturday at 9:00 it wasn't happening, but if they wanted to go at 12:00, no problem.  Then we agreed on an inexpensive fee (~$10-30) for the greens fee for them to come play (cart extra).  This was to just keep the revenue and encourage members to use the "fee free" days to their advantage.

We had about 8 courses in a 70 mile range that we worked out agreements with and it worked really well for us.  Layout wise we were the best of the 9, but conditioning we were about middle of the pack.  It kept us busy and I would say we did about 50 reciprocal rounds a week, which resulted in ~$600-800 of revenue that we otherwise wouldn't have.


The one that did not:
This set up was actually trickier as we didn't have any formal reciprocals set up with anyone.  We were a really nice club however.  So if one of our members came up, and was going to be travelling somewhere, we would generally call the shop at that course, and talk pro to pro about it.  Never talked the money part, but we would let them "feel out" the level of our club and if they would like to send members back.  Typically what happened with them was a 1-for-1 arrangement.  For every 1 member going there, we let 1 of theirs come to us.  

Difference was we never asked for a special or anything.  We just asked "what's your guest rate so I can let Mr./Dr./Ms. So-and-so know", and we would let them name the price.  Sometimes we would get the  "Oh just tell them to worry about caddie fees, we'll take care of the rest if you can return the favor", sometimes the "With a member it's $150, and we're willing to let them play for that", and very rarely would get the "our unsupervised guest rate is $225 and they must take a caddie."

I would say this setup worked really well for us because if we chose to, when someone called us we could just say they had to be accompanied by a member.  There were a few members at other local courses that we had on a "No Play List" because of past issues, played at our place too often, or something of the like.

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#20 T-MAC

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 08:20 PM

I'm in Hilton Head and our private clubs here have a fantastic reciprocal program over the summers (June through September), and even during the rest of the year all you really have to do is have your head pro call whatever course you want to play and get you on.  I pay anywhere from 35.00 to 100.00 (100.00 for May River) with most courses being 50.00 bucks.  I can also bring guests with me but they get charged whatever the Clubs normal guest rate is (anywhere from 50.00 to 130.00).  There were 21 courses in the reciprocal program this year.  Plus a couple courses in Savannah.


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