ENTREPRENEUR: PLAYING THROUGH

For these golf buddies-turned-business partners, getting clients into any club they want to play is par for the course.

What: Company that provides access to a variety of private golf clubs without having to be a member

Who: Jonathan Halpern, Dean Starker, David Kaufman, Gary Rosenberg and Ken Ditcher of Tour GCX

Where: New York City

When: Started in April 2004

Beautiful scenery, well-manicured fairways and amenities galore-country clubs have a lot to offer. For golfers who enjoy the game but haven’t had the chance to experience private play, Tour GCX has an answer. By offering a taste of this exclusive lifestyle, Tour GCX is making for the formerly inaccessible accessible. Ken Ditcher, Jonathan Halpern, David Kaufman and Gary Rosenberg saw their own situations as an inspiration for the business idea. “While we could afford to be country club members, it wasn’t on the radar because we were living in the city or had (young) kids,” Kaufman says. “But we wanted to play country club courses.” With startup costs in the seven figures, Tour GCX signed more than 20 private courses in the New York tri-state area. Members of Tour GCX purchase tee units, each good for one round of golf for the member and three guests. Tee times are booked through the company, so members and their guests can easily sample the various offerings of each club. Kaufman says tee units are generally purchased in lots of 10 for $6,250. Corporate packages are also available for a minimum of 20 unites at $12,500. Although the business is meant to appeal to avid golfers, Kaufman says that the founders marketed their business to private clubs as a new way for the clubs to draw potential members. “We consider ourselves a brand builder for country clubs,” Kaufman says. “Clubs today have to use more aggressive, unique marketing tactics and we are one of those.” Projecting 2006 sales of $5 million, Tour GCX has plans to expand nationwide by the end of 2007.