Joining a private club (walking is for poors)

Right off the top, I probably don’t play quite enough golf to warrant joining a club based on cost per round alone. I understand that it is gauche to think like that anyway, which I find mildly hilarious but it seems to be de rigueur to not worry about something so trivial as how much golf costs, in that private world anyway.

That said, deep inside of me there exists some kind of primal urge to one day belong to one of these things. The closest club to me is currently part way through a fairly extensive restoration and as such, has a bunch of great deals on membership this year (and likely next year as well).

Setting aside the actual course/club (small 150k pop city, Canada, nicest club in town but kind of small peanuts if you widen the net to 30 minutes driving) does anyone have opinions on past or current private club membership benefits or more interestingly, bad experiences.

I’ve never been a private anything guy, but I do like “nice things” if that makes sense. This course is in good shape and will be really nice in two years. My hesitation is more the whole clubby-club private members only bullshit. Am I overplaying this in my head? Also- never buying range tokens sounds awesome. Always playing the same track, less so.

Thanks I’ll hang up and listen.

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Ive been a member of a private club in a NYC exurb for 3 years. It was one of the best decisions Ive made. At first I was super hesitant to play among the early morning weekend groups thinking those spots should go to the A flight golfers but soon realized we were all still mostly hackers. The club definitely has it’s elite players but theyre much more scattered than I thought.

The best part of the private club experience for me has been the member events. IE, Member-Guest weekend, Member-Member tournaments etc. You get to play a ton of different formats and meet some (usually) great folks along the way. Loved the opportunities to go out as fivesomes, sixsomes, eightsomes and play crazy games on random days.

The trick for me was putting the pricetag out of my head, dont try and justify cost per rounds, random fees or try and game the food minimum. Just go out, smile at people and introduce yourself on the range.

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My sense is most people don’t get to play enough rounds in a year to justify the cost on a per round basis. But taking cost out of the equation, I think it’s a no brainer. There can be some level of BS or politics at any club, but it does vary by club and it’s all easily avoidable. Just make some friends and do your own thing. Having access to practice facilities, a course in great shape, not worrying about 5+ hour rounds on a Saturday, the camaraderie that can be found thru club events, are all great things.

There are some other well developed threads around this topic too.

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What do I enjoy about belonging to a club…
3.5 Hr rounds
practice facility
being able to play 4 or 5 holes after work
Practicing on the course. (On off hours, hitting 3 approaches from 150 . 125 and 100, or two or three from a bunker.)
I’ve met some great friends. People I would not have encountered without our golf connection.

My guess is that with just a little effort you can find a group of people with similar “likes” to you.
(pace of play, how much booze, how much gambling, how serious, how much needling)

Politics and BS can be easily avoided . (luckily there is a group of guys who apparently enjoy this)

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I had similar thoughts before joining mine this year. Namely, it costs a lot, would I get “my money’s worth,” and would I enjoy playing the same course over and over. The answer to all three is “yes.” I get out probably 6 days a week, either to practice, play a few holes, play 9, or a full 18. I enjoy the game MORE because I’m able to get out so much and not worry about the daily cost. Not to mention the people I’ve met. 100% would do again.

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I joined a private CC with last year being my first full season there and my second year playing golf seriously so you can say I jumped in with both feet. I’ve had a blast so far and enjoy everything about it. I didn’t know anyone before joining either as one of the questions from the membership was why I wanted to join since I said it wasn’t for networking as I’m not in banking or finance…I told them so I could beat my friends at work…lol. They loved that answer and they let me in.

I joined every tournament as a 36HC posting monster numbers on highly visible scoreboards in the clubhouse getting shit from some of the guys but also giving it back as I’m a shit talker from NJ which helped me fit right in. I got into the weekend 8am game crew by just introducing myself to everyone and anyone making jokes I won’t remember any of their names for another 6 months. This is my favorite part about the club. I’m off by 8:15am at the latest, walk the course with my push cart, have a few beers in the clubhouse and I’m home by 1pm after having lunch. Rinse repeat on Sunday and it’s a great way to spend a weekend. Golf with the guys in the morning and the whole afternoon available with my family.

The long and the short of it is if you want to do it and have the means then go for it. I’ve made some decent friends and my son is getting into the game as well. Private clubs usually are the type of place you get out of it what you put into it. My club is known for being friendly and it’s lived up to the reputation. A stodgy place isn’t for me so make sure you get the vibe of the joint before joining.

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Pace of play was one of the biggest factors in joining a private club, Weekend morning rounds at public courses take over 5 hours, private clubs are normally 4 to sub 4 hour rds. Also most or all public courses around me have leagues during the week and getting out in the afternoon was pretty much a no go.

The thought of everyone at a club being a stuck up asshole is false, sure there are assholes at country clubs (they tend to stick together) but there are a-holes everywhere in this world. Most people at clubs are genuinely nice people.

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I second everything @JoeBones said. The ability to go hit a bucket of balls in the evening and then wander around and play/practice on a few holes at dusk is my favourite part of belonging to a private club.

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I echo most of everything said here. My favorite part is that there is nobody on the course after 130p. I mean, maybeeee 6-12 groups for the rest of the day. And that will vary place to place, of course, but I think that’s pretty standard. My wife and I like to go on afternoon/twilight round dates. There’s no pressure, you can have a few, take extra shots, you have the course to yourself basically. That alone is worth the price of admission (well I guess that depends on the price of admission lol, but you said there is a good deal at the moment).

Also, politically/socially speaking… I didn’t grow up with money. I was a free lunch kid, in fact. We were intimidated a bit before joining. But we were convinced because of a great deal and my wife’s and my shared love of the game. I was playing a ton and the local good muni was costing just as much as the membership would have, but the club had faster rounds, included practice facilities, two courses, etc etc and more fringe benefits. Once you get past the unknown/get a comfort level going, it becomes pretty natural. There’s a flow and culture and little quirks (how to pay with your member number, which doors to use, all that dumb stuff). Every private place I’ve played has been pretty relaxed. After all, country clubs are for recreation. My wife especially was uncomfortable with the idea at first, but once you experience it and get your sea legs, so to speak, it’s pretty damn nice. I doubt we’ll ever go back.

tl;dr The golf experience is so so much better because of the freedom that comes with the premium/smaller crowd of people playing, and the comfort level grows over time. Highly recommend joining a private club.

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Don’t forget the course is typically in outstanding condition. My home track is always in meticulous shape.

So much of this comes down to family. If you’re married with or without kids, this is a family decision (assuming your club has some sort of family experience).

I started out my search with the goal of playing more golf for all the reasons above; I made the decision really wanting my kids and my wife to enjoy the club (pool, sports camps, lessons, events) as a group.

This has made the price work because the family loves it. And, I remain the primary beneficiary of some fun golf, camaraderie, tournaments, etc.

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Also, just be up front with them during the application/new member process. There’s no better approach than just being straightforward - “Look, I didn’t grow up around a club, but I love the game and the idea, plus this club and the membership seem so wonderful, so any tips or pointers would be really helpful as I go through this process and get to know everyone/the clubhouse/the course etc… how to book a tee time, make reservations, any faux pas new members learn the hard way, which staff is tipping okay for, etc etc.” Don’t be afraid to ask those simple kinds of questions.

Another pro tip: the staff is always nicer and more helpful than other members for a lot of your questions. I mean, that first year, I would just ask the bartender/staff random questions - “Hey man, I’m still getting my sea legs here, help me out: where’s the back door down to the gym?” “Hey, I’ve never had to deal with this, random question: who do I call if I leave a club on the course?” “Hey any chance I you guys could get a bottle of Angel’s Envy? It’s my favorite and I see you don’t have it.” Then you can get to know some of the staff, as well, who are always great.

Just act as if ye belong there and belonging shall be given to you.

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Thanks everyone, great stuff. Also the link to the other thread.

Are you in the GTA?

If that’s your main reason, you’re doing it wrong. And by “wrong” I mean only that if your intent is to maximize your dollar, don’t join a private club.

People join private clubs for other reasons, including “oh I just have time to play five holes” and not having to worry about it. Regular groups they get in with. The actual quality of the course. Club championships and other club events. Pace of play. Etc.

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Along these same lines, does anyone have any experience with the ClubCorp Young Executive membership? From what I can tell: http://membership.clubcorp.com/HoustonYEX this seems like a pretty good deal but I don’t know if “Unlimited” green and cart fees means I don’t pay green or cart fees or if it just means I can go as many times as I want but still have to pay every time. I can always call and ask but I figured I’d ask here first.

@OldManShortGame hit it on the head imo. It certainly isn’t cost effective for me on a per round basis, but I’m willing to pay a premium to get out and play 2-2.5 hour rounds, have access to better practice facilities and enjoy the one day member guests. In particular in Houston, it’s pretty difficult to get around a muni in under 4-4.5 hours if not longer on a weekend, so it’s nice zipping around in 2.5 and getting on with my day.

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Oh hey, you’re in Houston too. What club did you decide on because I hate the muni issue.

The pace has been the biggest reason why I’m considering private here in Houston as well. Can be utterly brutal at some places