What is Reciprocal Golf
Reciprocal Golf is the practice of allowing the members of other Golf Clubs in your area the opportunity to play golf at a discount or sometimes at no charge at your golf course. This may make sense for private clubs, who are typically less concerned about revenue, and more concerned about providing additional value to their Members. Fair enough! But for semi-private, public or resort courses we are questioning the why?

Why Reciprocal Golf Is A Bad Idea 
We have worked with several golf courses over the last five years in various parts of Canada that have reciprocal golf programs. And so far, in our experience, reciprocal golfers, whether free or at a discounted rate, do not spend incremental revenue at your facility (no extra cart revenue, food revenue or beverage revenue). They are there often for one reason, cheap or free golf. This has not changed since we managed golf facilities in the 90’s.

Reciprocal Case Study
We recently changed the Reciprocal policy at one club that we were working with. We based our change on the data that we had available. In 2016 the course had 150 reciprocal rounds of golf played at a discount of 50% off (not a lot of golf by any means). We changed the reciprocal rate to a $15 discount, which amounted to an increase in the rate of $15 (based on the green fee). Guess what? The Club did the same 150 rounds of golf. Those same players still played golf at the Club and we received very little negative feedback on the change! If your club does a lot more reciprocal rounds a small change could have a bigger impact on your green fee revenues.

Maintain Your Yield
Making decisions like this is often hard and if you have Members it may effect them. In this case, the Club had seven reciprocal arrangements all with local area courses (which are the worst kind of reciprocals). Only one of the seven Clubs changed their reciprocal to a $10 discount while the others left the 50% discount in place even after we made this change. Some members were disappointed with the rate at the one club but understood why the club changed it.

Sometimes opening up your tee sheet to more full pay rounds is a better option than offering a discount that you feel will result in little to no incremental spending. It is often the full paying players who spend the most. 

2018 is a great year to make some changes! If you would like us to provide you with a business analysis, feel free to give Jeff a call at 604-506-2226 or email him at [email protected] for a chat anytime.

We, Jeff and Tara Ciecko of CK Golf write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other an Industry Blog where we comment on general business and internet marketing best practices, sales strategies and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf  for 10 years and provide marketing, social media and business services to the golf and other industries. As of August 2016 our life and our business have been ‘location independent’. Our 19th Hole Blog is about the places we visit and the things we do. If you have any questions or comments, or happen to be in the same location as us please reach out and contact us anytime.