Just some thoughts
I have joined clubs a few times due to moving around a lot and financial position changing from young kid to retired now. I have seen the process from a small 9 holer to prestigious club.
First figure out exactly what you want. I have heard far too many guys say they joined a club and then want to change stuff at the club. Changing attitudes, rules, traditions takes time and so it’s better to find a place that offers the type of golf you want rather than join one just because it’s close to your house. Like if you want a place the family can use, like pools and dining along with golf, join a country club. If you like traditions join an old one etc… Sometimes it’s better to travel a little more to be at the RIGHT club.
Most clubs are happy to talk to you before putting in an application, some will say you need a sponsor to inform you etc… My point is even that gives you an idea of what type of club it is. Augusta is not giving an application form to someone who has a ton of money and rings up asking to be a member. No Sir you will be invited if we think you are who we want to join us. Also why join a men’s or women’s only club if you don’t like their ethos. Asking other golfers about clubs is important. I know clubs where gamblers gamble big time and others that don’t allow it. Why join a club big into tournaments and weekly games if your just looking to play for relaxation. What I am getting at is clubs are often very different and expect you to join them not them just catering for you.
I have found all clubs have great and idiot members. I found befriending the staff early usually pays big dividend. If you get to know the pro, assistants, starter, they will often introduce you to people who they think you will get in with. Bar staff, bag boys are not your servants, they are your equal and can help you enjoy life more than you think. You are not impressed by you as they have seen many like you before. However kindness and respect with all the staff will pay you back way more than having a couple of playing partners. Many clubs have established groups within them eg gamblers, gamers, traditionalists, time fillers, etc, which sometimes takes a while to get into the one that suits you. Be patient you will find your spot.
Easiest way I look at it is it’s, like choosing a school. Look at costs and what the place is offering before applying. First day sucks. If you arrive and don’t know anyone, your first friends might not be your best friends years later. You will not like some of the other kids but you will love your friends. For me even though I love muni and public golf it was like starting school almost every day. The rounds were slower, harder to get the tee times I wanted and too busy for me to spend as much time as I want too.
Supporting golf in anyway is good for you and good for the game. Being at the wrong place and later giving the game up is not good for anyone.