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PCCraig

  • Karma: +0/-0
Different threads in the past on GCA have discussed different aspects of joining a golf or country club. But I'm curious to hear from some of the posters on here as to why they joined the private club that they did, and what factors were most important in the decision? Or if you haven't or don't plan on joining a club, why not?

No need for specific club names or specific details, I'm mostly interested in the general thought process in evaluating a club.

Thanks in advance.
H.P.S.

Mark Woodger

Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 11:36:04 AM »
i would love to join a club and could probably just about afford to join one in the NYC area. However i resent the nickle and dime stuff that takes place and is automatically added to the monthly bill. x dollars for the caddie program, x for the valet, x for the food etc etc. I can't stand a mandatory caddie program either. I like to walk, push/carry my clubs, a caddie is a treat not a requirement to play the game on a saturday morning.

Please just give me a number i pay each year and i can chose the extras if i want them and control my additional spending.

I also hate what appears the be the variability of the dues where i could get an assesment to pay an extra 2k or more in a year because somebody wants a new locker room or something. It is hard to budget for that type of thing.

sorry this is a a bit of a rant.

Jim Hoak

  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 11:58:29 AM »
I suspect--but have no empiric proof--that in these economic times people are joining many fewer clubs.  People, who used to join cavalierly multiple clubs, now scrutinize each decision more closely.  The prior generation of golfers belonged to one club--or the more fortunate, maybe two.  Then with the advent of golf communities and retirement sites, I know the average number went up.  Now it seems like we are going back to the old norm.  The failure of so many courses and clubs, and the lack of construction of new ones, show this.  The decision on clubs to join, like so much else in this New Normal, is economic primarily.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2011, 12:39:08 PM »
My most important reasons for joining a private club were course quality, properly open all year and dry all year - it is that simple.  Comraderie, competitions, handicap, club etc were all secondary. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend & Alnmouth

Brian Finn

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2011, 12:45:42 PM »
I grew up playing muni/public golf on Long Island, and I am generally happy to play golf just about anywhere.  However, while living in North County San Diego (2005 - 2009), I joined a private club for the first time.  The reasons why I chose to join a club (and the specific club itself), in rough order of importance were:

1 - Meeting people (establishing regular playing partners) - new to the area, I wanted to get to know some local guys, join a group, etc so I could have a regular game with golfers whose company I enjoy.  I joined a golf only club with relatively low frills (and had played there several times before joining), so I felt comfortable I would get along well with much of the membership.
2 - Tee Time Availability & Pace of Play - As I got busier with work and started a family, I wanted to know I could tee off early most Saturdays and Sundays (maybe have a drink or two with the boys afterwards) and still have part of my day for other priorities.    
3 - Course quality and reciprocal play - I wanted a quality course as a home base - one that offered variety, could be fun from different sets of tees, etc...but I did not want to play all of my golf in one place, so when I discovered the many clubs (local and elsewhere) at which our head pro could/would arrange an occasional game, I was sold.
4 - Affordability - I would not be truthful if I omitted the significance the reduced initiation (it eventually went to $0 at this club) played in my final decision.  I was pretty young when I joined, and could have afforded a bit more, but felt this club offered a strong "bang for the buck."  The dues and other fees were not too bad, particularly (in my view) because I could play year round.

Living in Columbus, OH now, I am faced with a similar decision, and I expect it to go similarly.  Course quality will probably get a higher weighting this time around (as I have learned more in the past few years about what I do and donít like about course architecture) and affordability a bit lower weighting.  Lucky for me, there are many great options in the area, even outside the biggest names.
New for '24: Monifieth (Medal & Ashludie), Montrose (1562 & Broomfield), Panmure, Carnoustie (Championship, Burnside, & Buddon), Scotscraig, Kingsbarns, Elie, Dumbarnie, Lundin, Belvedere, The Loop (Red & Black), Forest Dunes, Arcadia Bluffs (South & Bluffs)...

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2011, 12:52:10 PM »
Here are the factors I used:

1.  I could afford it
2.  Knowing I could get good groups to play with
3.  Course quality
4.  Location

Additional factors I would use now:

1.  True cost - ask to look at your sponsor's bills to get a sense of what it actually costs to join
2.  Amount of play
3.  Extent to which the course has debt associated with a clubhouse or other obligation that it needs to pay off
4.  The random joinup factor - when you randomly join up with other people (either on the first tee or during the round) do you like playing with them.  In my experience this happens all of the time at private clubs and is one of the pleasures of joining.  
5.  Workout facilities - I do not need much, but I use them a lot.
6.  Number of kids I see on the course - a bunch of kids that are dedicated to the game is a great indicator of a healthy club
7.  Practice facilities - I use them a lot (especially when with younger kids and without the time to play as much as i would like) and cannot imagine belonging to a club with poor facilities.
8.  Participation in interclub competitions (City League, St. Paul City League or other more informal events with other clubs)
9.  Gambling norms
10.  Professional staff - I like it when the pros play a lot of golf.  They seem happier and better engaged with the membership.
11.  Nature of social scene - is it a drinking club or not and how does it fit with what I like


Terry Lavin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2011, 01:04:09 PM »
Quality golf course, quality people and appropriate value in terms of initiation fee, dues and all charges.  After a period of time, the most important factor to me is the people factor.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  H.L. Mencken

Mark Johnson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2011, 01:11:16 PM »
here is my list (in no particualr order)


1.  True cost to join
2.  Quality of practice facilities
3.  Course accessability when I want to play it  (weekday late afternoons, weekend AM)
4.  Quality of junior golf program
5.  Random joinup factor
6.  Pace of play and enforcement of it
7.  Everyday play of the course (e.g. different tees, locations, a course i wouldnt tire of)
8.  Longevity of staff  (if a club gets a new GM, every 2 years that is a VERY BAD sign)
9.  Participation in local events
10. Number of single digit handicaps who play when I do


Ben Jarvis

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2011, 06:14:15 PM »
For me, the following factors were most important:

1. Quality of golf course/s
- design
- conditioning of greens
2. Course accessibility
- my future club has two courses, meaning a charity day doesn't necessarily mean i cannot play at all
3. The people
- employees
- members
- recognition and a sense of belonging
4. Reciprocal Clubs
- both in Australia and overseas
5. The Clubhouse
- sense of history
- inviting
Twitter: @BennyJarvis
Instagram: @bennyj08

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2011, 06:19:35 PM »
Local club...


location/ease to get to;

quality of golf;

affordability;

vibe of club/membership attitude;

owner.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Jud_T

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2011, 07:01:47 PM »
Great golf on a course I'd be happy to play every day and likely never tire of for the right price.  Golf club NOT a country club (there's a big difference for those who haven't noticed).  Laid-back atmosphere, no pretension, all the $$'s put into the golf and little else.  A cold beer, a great burger, a dry pair of socks or shirt in a pinch, a smile, a handshake, a bit of friendly conversation.  Nothing more, nothing less.   A membership that values same.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 07:05:13 PM by Jud Tigerman »
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Ian Andrew

Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2011, 07:39:36 PM »
I came close a while back.

They need to recognize how to attract a 40 year old who does not play on week-ends and won't play more than a dozen rounds.

It's not the money, its reasonable value for that money.
My issue was the annual dues.

I suggested to the club that I would pay the same, but find a way for me to not pay $500. per round.

Frank M

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)? New
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2011, 12:16:24 AM »
Although my reasons for joining any particular club vary, I joined my particular club because:

1. Location - Within 10 mins of my home yet feels a million miles away
2. Golf course - Great golf course and a nice retreat almost right in the middle of the city
3. Practice facility - Great short game facilities and decent enough range
4. Priorities - All about the golf (although they do fairly well on everything else)
5. Reciprocals - Good recips
6. Finances - Last, but not least, the clubs financial position was stable and one of the best in the city.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2024, 08:30:44 PM by Frank M »

Steve_Lovett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2011, 12:20:42 AM »
1.  Quality golf course (hosted national USGA championship)

2.  Stable leadership

3.  Traditional club with a rich history (Donald Ross - circa 1923)

4.  Convenient location

PCCraig

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2011, 09:11:35 AM »
Some great lists and points, thank you for posting.

One vague point that was made earlier in the thread by Mac and others was "vibe of club/membership attitude." Is this always obvious, or does it develop over time? What's the "vibe" of your club?
H.P.S.

Brent Hutto

Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2011, 11:29:11 AM »
The first (of two) private clubs I joined was equal parts really liking their golf course and avoiding the public-course restrictions on when I was or wasn't allowed to play without riding in a cart.

A few years later, after I was fully addicted to the quietness, pace of play, ease of making tee times and general pleasant private-club experience the (non-member-owned) club to which I belong was purchased and the new owner attempted to take it severely up-market. As in no longer within my means and don't let the door hit you on your way out we're Movin' On Up!

BTW the new owner was bankrupt 18 months later. Pity, that. Anyone can now play that course for $35 including carts, weekdays. So much for upmarket.

So in selecting my new private club (my second and current) I went straight for my absolute favorite course in town. I will admit that the quality of the golf course was my first criterion. I also wanted a member-owned club. So basically when I went to visit and meet some members I was hoping for a good experience because I really wanted to join. Fortunately, I hit it off right away with many of the members I met and I've been quite happy. But I came because of the course, first.

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2011, 11:46:32 AM »
Some great lists and points, thank you for posting.

One vague point that was made earlier in the thread by Mac and others was "vibe of club/membership attitude." Is this always obvious, or does it develop over time? What's the "vibe" of your club?

The vibe is tough to determine based on straight questions.  Current members are selling to some extent (and justifying the expense to themselves) and former members justify their decision to leave and seem to me to be more negative after being gone awhile.  Some ideas:

1.  Look at the handicap lists in the clubhouse and get a sense of # of rounds and range of handicaps
2.  Ask about club events and how quickly they fill up (or if they have difficulty filling them)
3.  Ask members of other clubs (take with a grain of salt - most things I hear about my club are somewhat off base)
4.  Look at leaderboards from state am events to see how many people from the club do well in them
5.  Stop in the 19th hole at a time when it is full and see if you like what you see  and hear


Jerry Kluger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2011, 11:59:25 AM »
My old club was sold for housing so I had to make a choice where to go.  I tried public golf but the pace of play was incredibly slow (5 hour round was the norm) and the cost for myself and my son playing made it nearly as costly as a private club. 

I then had to decide which club to join.  I wanted to join the club closest to my house but it was very expensive and having to put two boys through college made it unaffordable.  I then looked at a few other lower priced clubs.  I narrowed it down to two courses and chose the one which was better for walking.  I really like the course and it is well conditioned and challenging for someone of my ability.  The only downside is the politics of a private club and the few people who really make all the decisions. 

Mark McKeever

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2011, 12:00:28 PM »
Simply put,  I joined because it's a great classic layout, I like the other members, and the course never gets crowded.

Mark
Best MGA showers - Bayonne

"Dude, he's a total d***"

Jud_T

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2011, 12:03:01 PM »
IMO if you're there for the golf more than the socializing, convenience, price, pool etc. then the course has to be pretty damn good to continue to hold your interest after a couple hundred rounds.  I speak from experience having seen both sides of this equation.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2011, 12:07:09 PM by Jud Tigerman »
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Jason Hines

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2011, 02:11:59 PM »
My latest club is my 4th in 3 different states.  Iíll break mine down to 4 categories with additional reasons embedded in the 4.

50% Location:  I like most of you are finding it hard to find 3.5 hours to play a round of golf.  Also, my sons are getting older very fast and my prior club was 30 miles each way which made a quick 9 very difficult.  My new club is in my neighborhood.

30% Course:  I go on trips to experience the courses we talk about here.  Donít get me wrong, the course I belong to now has tremendous views, conditions, etc.  The course is basically everything people here do not prefer and is a true Country Club.

15% Price:  My new club is double the cost, however, there are no hidden fees, no tipping and no food minimum.   Didnít want to wait another 5 years to feel financial better about my decision, which would have cost me 5 years with not utilizing a club down the street from my house.  The membership level is also capped at 350 and I have yet to have an issue with getting on or pace of play.
 
5% Other:  IMHO Ė there are no true golf clubs in my area, they would have been my first choice.  However, I have been very impressed with the rest of the membership and other activities at the club.

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2011, 02:14:06 PM »
The "vibe" one is easy to pick up on...

As a visitor, wave to everyone you see and say "Hello".  See what the response is.  The club I joined, everyone said hello back, smiled, and some made some chit chat.  The one I didn't join, all the members looked at me like I was from outerspace.  If members don't routinely say "hello" to fellow members, it is not for me.

What does everyone wear at the club?  What cars do they drive?  Do they wear a watch?  If so, what type?

Talk to me about the women at the club.  Are there any?  How do they dress?  Are they "enhanced"?  Are they there to socialize/gossip or golf?

I could go on and on.  But if you look around, talk to people, and watch closely...you'll pick up the vibe.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Mark Johnson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2011, 02:14:42 PM »
Some great lists and points, thank you for posting.

One vague point that was made earlier in the thread by Mac and others was "vibe of club/membership attitude." Is this always obvious, or does it develop over time? What's the "vibe" of your club?

Pat,

Its also important to understand the the vibe of a club is very different based on time of day.   For instance, weekday morning is very different that midday Tuesday.    In a way, you may often have two different clubs since most of the people who are there at one time are rarely there at another.

C. Squier

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2011, 03:31:41 PM »
Do you LOVE the golf course?

Can you write the check?

If both are a yes, join.  If either has a no, don't join.

Duncan Cheslett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why did (or didn't) you join the private club that you did (or didn't)?
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2011, 03:52:07 PM »
1. The Course. I reckoned that if I was going to join a club I wanted to belong to a club whose course I would never tire of. A month of playing all the local contenders whittled down the short-list to one.


2. No Joining Fee No way was I going to pay an initiation or joining fee. It's a matter of principle.

3. Distance I am lucky enough to have maybe 10 golf clubs within 15 minutes drive of both my home and workplace. It had to be one of those.

4. Ambience The most difficult to quantify. As Mac says, you can tell a lot about the membership by looking around the parking lot. At Reddish Vale I saw more vans than cars. I felt at home immediately!  ;D

« Last Edit: November 04, 2011, 03:54:43 PM by Duncan Cheslett »

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