Can't afford to join the club? Learn to share!
By Reed Tucker

(FORTUNE Magazine) – GOLF AIN'T CHEAP. THERE are clubs to buy and hefty tips to be handed out to the poor sucker who has to haul your clubs around the course. But the real wallet slayers are those six-figure membership fees for private clubs. Now Tour GCX, a one-year-old business in New York, has found a way to let hackers enjoy the country-club lifestyle on a budget.

The company uses a model similar to the one that lets companies time-share a corporate jet. (A founder of Marquis Jet is among those who launched Tour GCX.) For $6,250 a year, a golfer gets to hit the links (with three friends) ten times at clubs whose golden gates would normally be shut to the unwashed. "Most of our customers use it for business purposes," says Tour GCX chief marketing officer Gary Rosenberg. (Other golf programs, such as the Eden Club and Associated Clubs International, offer fractional memberships of sorts, but all are far pricier and often involve buying property.)

So far, Tour GCX's 240 members get to enjoy 14 private clubs in the New York City area--GCX won't name them for fear of tipping off full-time golfers that part-timers are in their midst--and it plans to expand, maybe to Chicago and Boston. And like the private clubs, GCX screens for golf talent and deep pockets. "We have to make sure the customers will behave properly and represent our company," Rosenberg says. Or at least promise not to wear plaid pants. -- Reed Tucker