Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Richard Specht is the PGA head professional and co-owner of Timberline Golf Course in Peosta, Iowa. This PGA Best Practices: Travel article originally appeared in the Pro to Pro Section of the February 2009 edition of PGA Magazine.

Use Reciprocal Playing Arrangements

Richard Specht on the importance of using reciprocal playing arrangements:

Timberline is a privately owned facility open to public play, though we do have seasonal members who play our course for just a golf car fee. However, I would estimate that during peak season at least half of our Saturdays are booked for outings, meaning that my 100 seasonal members are on the outside, looking in. To compensate for the lack of availability at Timberline, I have reached a reciprocal arrangement with three other courses in our region. Within 45 minutes of Timberline, there is Galena (Ill.) Golf Course, Platteville (Wis.) Golf & Country Club and Lancaster (Wis.) Country Club. If one of my seasonal members calls up for a Saturday tee time and I have to tell them “no” because there is an outing scheduled, they still get to play golf that weekend, because I can call up one of my fellow PGA Professionals at the other facilities and arrange to get my member on their course for the same golf car-only fee – and we extend the same courtesy to members of the other facilities.

Richard Specht on the business impact of using reciprocal playing arrangements:

By providing alternative courses for my golfers to play, I not only do right by my membership, but I am providing an added value to their seasonal membership, because now they can play courses that otherwise they may not have been able to get on. At the same time, my members are ambassadors of Timberline when they play at these regional courses in two other states and, as we all know, you can’t put a price on word of mouth. This arrangement is working well in 2009, with my hardcore golfers using it, and my non-frequent players starting to understand it more. My seasonal members use it, but not as much as I thought they would. On the other hand, I can tell when the reciprocal facilities are having events, because my traffic definitely picks up. We have had days where we get 8 to 10 groups on a weekend day, which amounts to $400–$500 we may never have gotten if these golfers weren’t from courses that we have the reciprocal arrangement with.


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