Local Reciprocals

Golfers love playing golf, and even under severe lockdown restrictions, golf invariably finds a way…

And it has been in lockdown throughout Greater Sydney, where golf is allowed but only within your LGA or 5km of home.

Golf clubs in Sydney have adapted to the restrictions with remarkable agility. Within days, there were make-shift reciprocal tee times for members at clubs throughout the city. As the lockdown persisted, such arrangements have become more flexible and numerous.

Are these true “reciprocal” arrangements? Certainly not in the traditional sense – where interstate reciprocals provide a convenient way for travelling golfers to enjoy some benefits of membership on short stays away from home. But the framework of a reciprocal arrangement has proven to be equally useful for these scenarios closer to home.

It’s an interesting exercise to compare this trend to the pre-pandemic club-mergers that were an often touted solution for clubs that found it unsustainable to go at it alone. The most high profile being the mega-club formation and financial windfall of Peninsula Kingswood. Kingswood – a fine golf course – was lost, but the funds generated allow its former members to enjoy the refreshed Peninsula North and South courses, which must count among Australia’s top two or three 36 hole facilities.

As successful as the PK merger was, it’s not ideal to have lost a quality metropolitan golf course in the process. And perhaps there’s some false equivalence to compare a pre-pandemic mega-merger with the current trend towards local reciprocal mini-mergers.

But now there’s a taste for this new form of local reciprocity, it invariably leads to the question: do such arrangements have a place after lockdown?

Surely most golfers would feel that a continuation of local reciprocals will bring more variety and options to their membership. A rising tide lifts all boats and local clubs are stronger working together. Right now it’s some limited tee time sharing but perhaps it will lead to further sharing of resources and facilities in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

But even putting aside the potential financial benefits, if you live within a convenient drive of half a dozen golf clubs and all of them except yours start swapping tee times, wouldn’t you feel a bit left out?

By Adrian Logue – MSL Solutions