College Student Private Membership?


Just looking for some refugees to offer advice or even anecdotal tales from their college days.

So let me set the scene: I have belonged to a private club all my life but love to get around and play all the munis in my area (In between NYC and Philly so some great options) and am going to be playing lacrosse in college, but at the D3 level so there should be some down time in the offseason and maybe some even during the spring. I am hoping to go private simply for the ability to practice for free and play as many holes as I can fit in a night or afternoon before sunset. There are four schools that I am being recruited to/seriously looking at and two of them have their own golf courses (one of them where Jack Nicklaus had a hole in one in the US AM) so problem solved there, and the other two are in the Philly/ Main Line area and do not have their own course. HOWEVAH, there are obviously some downright outstanding golf courses in the Philly area and perhaps I could thinking about joining for some sort Junior/Student fee and with the proximity to my house (about 45-60 minutes) I could also play in the summer there, my initial thoughts are places like Stonewall but again I am not sure so maybe some Philly guys could help me out. Now that is a long winded back story, but my main questions are below:

  1. Do you think this makes financial sense to do/is affordable?
  2. Any club suggestions?
  3. Has anyone done something similar to this when they were or still are in college?
  4. Is there any way I could convince my parents of this?
  5. Am I overestimating the amount of time I will have?
  6. Do you think I could use my charm at an old school club to swing this type of membership or am I an absolute rube?

P.S.: I am completely okay with brutal honesty-- in fact I encourage it.

Thanks for your help!


As someone who played D3 sports, I think you are overestimating how much time you’ll have during the season. Monday-Friday from the time you wake up until dinner are pretty much full between class, workouts, homework, practice, and potentially a work-study job. You’ll probably have games most weekends and travel time can be significant depending on the conference. That doesn’t leave much time for golfing in season. Depending on work schedules, internships, etc. you should have time to play in the off-season and during the summer, but many programs still have workouts that they expect you to attend and class never stops.

Another thing to factor is is if you will have a car, or means of transportation to the course during the school year. If you’re living in dorms a lot of colleges will either make you pay a lot to bring a car or just not allow it.

And finally, it is college, so make sure to factor in your ability and willingness to play with a hangover.


You have four years, so even if you don’t act year one, you’ll still have time. For me, college was a big transition, so that first year I didn’t really play at all. I also pretty burnt out from high school golf, so the year break was so sweet.

But come year two, I was back in deep, and we had 3 solid courses within 20 minutes of campus. I would recommend taking your first year and just feeling it out, figuring out how you do your schedule best, and evaluate if you’ll be able to fit in enough golf to justify going for something like this. I know a year may sound like a long time, but it’s not in the grand scheme of things.

p.s. - those central NJ tracks are a good lineup … I may have cut a deal a few years back with one of the evening pros at the scrubbiest of courses…$10 under the pro shop door and I play until dark, no questions asked.


Thank you so much for your response! I don’t think I will be playing much during season (more wishful thinking) but I will have a car. My brother plays D3 lacrosse at the same competition level that I will be and he has summer workouts but still it is only about 2 hours tops a day during the day, so If I do decide to go to one of the Philly schools I think it is actually a good investment for the summer. Did you play during your time at college often?


I mean, if you can get your parents to pay for a private golf course while you are still a teenager go for it I guess. Wouldn’t have ever worked out for me!


I was able to play quite a bit in the summer (20-30 rounds), but only once or twice during the school year. I did football and track, so I was always in season and I didn’t have a car at that point.

If you don’t have a job you will have time in the summer. If you have access to the course during the summer and can swing it financially I say go for it, just don’t count on much play outside of that time period. I think 2trickpony’s suggestion of feeling it out for a year (or even a semester) is a good one.


Definitely going to feel it out to get my feet under me, and hopefully my job will be in Philly as an easy commute. Trying to finesse a job with Gil Hanse doing the coffee runs… a boy can dream


Change sports and join the college golf team :wink:


Maybe not the summer after your first year but certainly after your Soph. and Jr. years I would explore getting a job at a golf course. You’ll work some hours to pick up spending money and they should grant you playing/practice privileges when you’re not. And if a course won’t offer you that, find one that will.

When I worked at a resort a few years back I’ll never forget what the grey-haired rangers/starters told me. All of them had considered purchasing a membership but realized working a shift or two a week not only granted them free golf but put a little money in their pocket. Makes all the sense in the world to me. Same logic applies to college kids too.


THIS is the correct answer. I did grounds crew in college, and I always kept my sticks in my truck. There were days that the course was empty and I could get in 18 holes with a cart in two-and-a-half hours. Go home take a nap and meet up with friends for drinks. I MISS THOSE DAYS.


As someone who made many bad decisions in collge, let me steer you clear of this one.

Do not join a club.

“The ability to prqactice for free” is not free because you’re paying to be a member. Also, you may just find …how shall we say…new interests? once you hit campus. Finally, just fall into the muni scene and enjoy it. It’ll be a valuable change from your cloistered Country Club existence. You may ctually ride in a gas powered cart or even have some ruffian steal your ball from an adjacent fairway and have to fight for it. In closing, take solace in the fact that most colleges will have some incredibly affordable golf option.
Good luck. Have fun.


Hey @scuff @Randy what were your schedules like working the golf course hours and student life?


I worked summers from about 6:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m. - mowing fairways, greens, rough, etc. Did a lot of hand watering in the afternoons. I would be on the first tee at 2:45.

During the school year, I worked as a server or on campus in the student life office. I probably averaged 20 hours a week, but my expenses were almost nil. My parents paid for my dorm and I was on academic scholarship for tuition.

Your first year will blow your mind. You will come home from class and be like, “What the fuck do I do for the rest of the afternoon?” Then you visit a buddy down the hall and burn a joint or two while ripping off headshots in Halo. Go to the cafeteria and talk shit to some girls, find out someone is having a party, get drunk, and go to your 8:00 a.m. class wondering why you ever scheduled something so atrocious.


I only worked more than 40 hours on rare occasions as that kicked in time-and-half OT pay, so they usually schueduled us in the 35 hr/week neighborhood. Specific shifts varied day to day. I worked bag room and this was back home, not near my campus.

Depending on the course and it’s affiliation with your University you may be able to work less than ‘normal’ if you explain your situation (lacrosse, training, etc). Even working 35-40 hrs a week there’s plenty of time leftover to play a bunch and train for lax on your own. Only question would be team requirements and the hours involved with that. Either way it’s certainly something I’d explore. Even if you can afford a membership, I promise you you’ll have more fun, fulfillment and stories being on the working side.


I mean, pretty much this. @scuff nails it.


A million times this. Only for me it was Tiger Woods PGA Tour or FIFA. Not a Halo guy. I very nearly flunked out of engineering because of this very reason…

You will come home from class and be like, “What the fuck do I do for the rest of the afternoon?” Then you visit a buddy down the hall and burn a joint or two while ripping off headshots in Halo. Go to the cafeteria and talk shit to some girls, find out someone is having a party, get drunk, and go to your 8:00 a.m. class wondering why you ever scheduled something so atrocious.


Just a word to the wise - the refuge is not a safe space for rapey lax bros…

Just kidding - I know not all lax bros are rapey, and some are destined to be contributing members of society! We have a group of lax bros who live across the street from the Kill House and they inspire us on a daily basis with their outdoor weightlifting, incredible flow, and general disregard for the world around them. Heck Neil was a decent lacrosse player in high school and I dabbled for a bit. Wonderful sport.

In all seriousness, @scuff and @Lazstradamus hit the nail on the head. Plus the more you play at one place, the less you can go explore and play other places. It sounds like all four of the schools you’re looking at have solid, cost-effective options - leverage those and then spice things up with day trips to other courses in the area. That way you won’t feel guilty if you don’t play a whole lot one month. Plus, it sounds like you’re looking at primarily cold weather locales where the golf season is nonexistent the majority of the time you’re on campus, summer classes notwithstanding.


Philly / Mainline perspective here (Haverford, Swarthmore?):

The most historical clubs in the area with great courses (Merion, Philly Cricket, Aronimink, Philly Country, Gulph Mills, etc.) would be difficult for you to negotiate a junior membership. Possible - maybe if your home club is Shinnecock or Baltusrol - but those clubs are not in the market for transient members.

Then you have the older clubs in the area that are the next tier down. There are many good tracks with great memberships. There might be an option there, although, none of them are desperate for members right now, particularly the ones in the heart of the main line. Let’s say you go to Haverford. Merion is a driver - 3 wood from Campus, but then Overbrook is probably 10 minute drive. Overbrook has a healthy membership, they’re not necessarily looking for people who only want to use the course for 3 years. Llanerch would be similar.

Maybe if you’re a bit further west and get into one of the places that was recently acquired by Concert Golf or ClubCorp - that would work. I know Plymouth Country Club, which is again a bit further has always looked for members - that was just sold - good track. Or if you’re on the Eastern Main Line - Bala Golf always is looking for people.

Then you have the two newcomers (relatively speaking) in Stonewall (Doak) and Applebrook (Hanse). I think Stonewall is just too far from the Mainline to make it practical. That being said, great place and they might have a scenario for you. Applebrook is a bit closer (some people would even consider it “Main Line”) - but still probably a solid 25-30 minutes from Haverford’s campus. Applebrook has a great membership and might have some unique offerings for someone in your camp

(Note - I’ve not lived in Philly area for 20 years, but go back often so some of my perceptions may be a bit dated)


Sheesh guessed the two colleges outright in the first line. I was thinking about Overbrook, Applebrook, and Stonewall as the main contenders with Stonewall maybe even leading the pack due to it’s environment and variety of options but it is quite far. Obviously all the greats are in my dreams but will probably only remain there…


Ouch on the lax bro comment – I live life every day trying to dispel those stereotypes which are upsettingly common as they truly do ruin the sport’s reputation, and I appreciate your concern for not letting anyone fall down that dark, pathetic path.

Sorry little off topic there… anyways, I agree that they are spot on. Especially if I am going to try to go into golf post college (dreams of being an archivist) I think fully understanding agronomy on a deeper level than what the types of grasses are, how they play, and how expensive irrigation is would be super helpful-- not to mention interesting-- and working on grounds would definitely help that as well as offer a different look at golf. Interested to hear your thoughts @Tron