Reciprocal Golf helps country club members play other courses

by Kelly Pickel

The days of head professionals at country clubs negotiating reciprocal play time for their members may be numbered, thanks to Reciprocal Golf, a Palm Springs, Calif.-based company. Now, the company says, playing at other private courses across the country is only a phone call away.

Reciprocal Golf is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service designed to make reciprocal play easier to arrange for private country club members as well as individual golfers. "Out of the 4,400 private clubs in the nation, around 1,700 offer reciprocal play between private courses, given that the proper protocol is followed," Reciprocal Golf President Pete Baumann said.

A list of private country clubs that collaborate with other private clubs to arrange reciprocal play can be found on Reciprocal Golf's Web site (

Members of Reciprocal Golf can arrange to play other private country clubs by calling a toll-free number and requesting the desired course they wish to play and when. A Reciprocal Golf staffer then finalizes all the arrangements.

"For the past 80 or 90 years, this procedure has been very limited," Baumann said. "The pro at a country club was the one who made all the arrangements for reciprocal play."

Baumann said there were too many difficulties with depending on a pro at a country club to make the arrangements to play at another course. "It just turned into phone tag between the two pros," which made it very trying to play at other private courses, Baumann said.

Stephen Polevoy, an avid golfer from northern New Jersey, has been a member of Reciprocal Golf for more than two years. "I've played some great courses due to Reciprocal Golf," he said.

A retiree who plays golf six days a week during the summer, Polevoy said he makes use of Reciprocal Golf's services at least once a month. Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Fla. and Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown, New Jersey are among the many private courses that Polevoy has played using Reciprocal Golf's services.

"Reciprocal Golf is a great service with great people and I hope to remain a member for many years to come," Polevoy said.

Baumann and his son came up with the idea of Reciprocal Golf after being members of a country club for several years, where they noticed how problematic it was to arrange play at other private courses. They started the company in February 2003.

According to Baumann, "about half of the golfers that use Reciprocal Golf are private country club members, and the other half are traveling golfers."

The private country club members pay an annual fee of $365. The individual golfers (traveling golfers) obtain an inexpensive non-resident membership through an affiliate office, in addition to the $365 per year, to utilize the services provided by Reciprocal Golf.

The company is currently scheduling 350 rounds of golf a month, according to Baumann. "A lot of head pros are calling Reciprocal Golf themselves to have their country club's entire membership use the service," he said.

Baumann speaks enthusiastically about the need to promote junior golf. He said he donates a portion of Reciprocal Golf's membership sales to programs for juniors.