Do you know that there were more than 4,000 private golf clubs in the US at the end of 2019?
When considering private golf club membership, choosing the right golf club is a decision that should by no means be taken lightly. We’ve listed a few key things to consider when weighing your options – read on and you’ll save a lot of time and money.
One of the best ways to review country clubs and decide which club is best for you is to ask other golfers in the area about the country clubs you are currently considering. By asking current country club members what they like and dislike about their club, you may be able to get a better idea of the experience they would have if they joined.
Advantages of a Private Golf Course
Since there are around 12,000 public golf courses in the United States, why would anybody want to spend the money on a private club? Here are probably the best reasons:
- Access: Public courses need to be booked as many rounds as possible to be profitable, and weekends are of course the most popular with a morning bonus. This means that if you work midweek and want to play around on a Saturday or Sunday morning, it will probably be difficult to find a tee time at a good golf course. Not a problem in a private club where membership is limited and a good tee time is always available.
- Finding a Game: Unless you have an extensive network of golf buddies to call when you find around, you will likely be playing with strangers often in your local public area. That’s not the case in a private club where you get to know everyone in no time and finding a game will never be a problem.
- Track Condition: As mentioned before, public places need a lot of slack to remain profitable, which means lots of laps, seven days a week. All gaming puts pressure on the court, and even top-tier public facilities with high maintenance budgets have a hard time keeping up. Not so for the private club, where a limited membership means a lot fewer rounds, a lot less damage to the course, and a much better physical condition overall.
What else can club membership offer
- Family: Sometimes people are lucky enough that their spouse and children love the great game of golf, but rarely are golfers so lucky. Therefore, one additional consideration needs to be made when looking for potential country clubs: What can it offer your family? Perhaps your partner is playing tennis and you are limiting your search to clubs with tennis courts. Maybe your kids like to swim. How many country clubs in your area have a pool? Given the amenities your family and your own will need, some of the potential country club locations will likely be crossed off your list.
- Business: The golf course is a great place to interact with customers. So if you want to improve your business profile, look for a club with a quality golf course and first-class dining options.
- Community: If you want to entertain family and friends, ask about special events that take place throughout the year, such as Christmas galas, music, or outdoor celebrations such as barbecues and fireworks.
What is most important to me
- Prestige: The year a club was originated and the status of the architect who originally designed the golf course are directly related to the ‘prestige’ associated with a club. Clubs founded a hundred and more years ago with a golf course designed by one of the master architects (e.g. Donald Ross or AW Tillinghast) are also among the most prestigious in your area – but they are also likely to come with a high price (along with with a degree of exclusivity where acceptance is not necessarily self-evident).
- The Track: A golf course doesn’t have to be a hundred years old to be great, and some modern architects have become masters over time. If you’re a serious golfer and want to be challenged, see who designed the course and check the current USGA course and slope rating (a rating of 73 or better along with an incline of 130 or more will likely be yours).
- Diversity: Some clubs offer 27 holes as three 9-hole courses or two 18-hole courses. Apart from the fact that you don’t always have to play the same course, it also helps with the pace of the game.
- Practice facilities: The size and quality of practice facilities can vary widely, even at private clubs. If you enjoy working on your game it’s a good idea to take a good look at the driving range and short play facilities – especially the available grass area so you don’t hit the mats too often
Can I swing it financially?
Private club membership can be costly, so you have to weigh the above benefits against the associated costs – the most common of which are listed below:
- Entrance fee: An entrance fee is common, generally non-refundable, and can be quite a large number. This is the first question you should ask yourself when considering a club. This is also the main reason why you want to be sure of your decision.
- Bond: In private equity clubs, each member owns a portion of the club, so you have to buy a bond. Again, the bond can be expensive – but the good news is that the value of the bond is repaid when you leave the club.
- Contributions: The annual fee is usually paid in advance at the end of each year, but the payment can be spread over several months or throughout the year.
- Minimum Amounts: Often a club will have minimal expenses for food and drink, and if you play golf alone it can be difficult to meet your monthly stipend – but generally a few lunches or dinners (or even order) will suffice to take with you ).
- Assessments: When a club undertakes extraordinary improvement projects, such as modernizing or refurbishing the golf course, extending the clubhouse, or building a new practice facility, the costs are shared equally among members. Major expenses usually require a majority of members and, if approved, are passed on to all members – even if you voted no. The good news is that improvements to the club add value to your band while benefiting from improved facilities.
- Incidentals: Additional costs to consider when joining a club include golf bag storage, cart/caddy fees, and guest fees