Long term viability of the American Country Club model?


Great post. Cleveland?


I used to live in SB and still get back there often. Warren is a great course, as is Blackthorn. Morris Park and SB CC are fun, though SB is the better course. I think both are very reasonable cost wise as private clubs go. The location of MP is super convenient though.


Being up in canada it;s even worse… Many initiation fees are the same or more than in the US and we can only golf 4-6 months of the year!!!

On top of that many courses charge extra for those that use golf carts, pull carts, or many extras the club offers.

Was looking into a club near my house and they wanted 40K initiation and 5K yearly. No pools, no extras.

I chose to by a multi club card for $500. I can play many local private courses and the best public courses at a HEAVILY reduced rate (such as banff springs, and all the mountain resort courses). I play 40-50 rounds a year and have never spent over $2K on green fees.

While I miss the tournaments and atmosphere of my membership we had when I was a junior, it makes NO sense in my 30s and 40s.


That sounds similar to what I’ve heard from others around here. I basically split my rounds 50/50 between Warren and Blackthorn right now and have very few complaints about either. I’m sure I’d enjoy both MP and SB CC, but they’d have to be much better than the two publics to justify the cost.


Played Banff Springs a couple of years ago. In my top 5 just from the location alone. That drive and view on 15!


You should figure out where the “Club Pro Guy” runs his empire and join that club.


Gave him 2 a side last year if he played a set of junior clubs… wasn’t aware at the time he’d played them on tour as part of his US Kids golf deal. He’s a shrewd negotiator…


I was fortunate enough to join a club here in central KY as a junior during a bit of a rebuilding phase. One of the courses, a championship course that will be hosting the Barbasol Championship this summer, was struggling quite a bit and a neighboring private course bought them out and merged the two about 6ish years ago I think.

In order to start building a good base of members, they offered great rates for juniors (18-24 at $2k a year) as well as a junior-plus option (24-30 at 2.6k a year). No initiation fee, no cart fees, no food minimums, free range balls, pool, gym, and best of all, two courses to play.

They have since raised the rates a tad bit due to the influx of members but it is still very affordable compared to the other private clubs in the area. I know another course here in town is doing a similar thing to try and get younger members and I think it is a great idea. Minimize silly expenditures at the club and offer good rates to younger people seems to be a good recipe for success to me.


Our local club in Jackson, MS has a pretty sweet deal. You do not have to buy into your “stock” of the club unitl you turn 36. Each month you are a junior member you get a $50 credit into that stock.


Poor b*sterd. You wanna talk abotu low points… the dude had to play with a 35" driver on tour for two years. Killed his game. KILLED IT.


This is exactly the course that I think will start thriving soon if not already. With people having kids later in life, they aren’t seeking the six flags experience. They just want golf and lots of it. I wish the Chicagoland area has those option more than the stuffy dying clubs that overcrowd the area.


When we lived in Naples, FL, we took advantage of a concept we have down here called “bundled golf,” where private membership came with the purchase of a residence in the property. Some you had to in order to live there, and others were optional but available at any time after you moved in. We bought a condo on one such course and paid 7000 to join the club, which was mandatory. We then could play basically at will, for $18 a round cart fee (or nothing to walk). We had accounts that could be charged for food, pro shop merch, social events. It skewed elderly, but over the 10 or so years we lived there it started to get younger.

I don’t know if that sort of arrangement could be made into the ideal that @2trickpony talked about, but the revenue from HOA did sustain the golf course very well, even if it dropped off in the Florida summer.


Here’s a story that has played out in more than a handful of locations…

"The Wrong Way To Do It"
A group comes together and says “we’re going to build a no-frills but high quality golf course for real golf afficianados.” For example sake, let’s say the offer equity memberships at $50K. They get a few charter members, but things slow down a little bit and a handful of people are admitted for $10K. Beyond that they offer a few local high-caliber amateurs a “free” membership, they just have to pay monthly dues. The first issue should already be apparent: An equity club that’s still in it’s nascent stages and you essentially have three “price points” of equity.
So let’s say you’ve got 100 members now- 60 paid the full $50K.Another 25 paid the $10K and 15 are comped. Everything is going well until a few guys in a truck in Nigeria blow up the world’s third biggest oil pipeline and markets react. Or lets say your greens get a nasty fungus and you’ve got to replace them. Suddenly a handful of your $50K guys want out, but they can’t get out because there’s no wait list to get in so there’s no value in their equity. So what does the club do? Lowers the value of a “full equity membership” to $10K (I’ve seen this happen more than a few times in the last 10 years.) The $50K folks are pissed so they just walk. The $10K guys are like “whatever” because they’re even and the free guys are psyched because there’s more golf course for them. But the end-result is the de-valued membership makes it incredibly hard to attract new members and keep the rent/employees paid. You also limited the ability to raise a financial reserve that any association needs to maintain a proper club. Next thing you know, you bank is asking questions, you’re getting phone calls from a company like Concert Golf Partners, and your members are having “Town Hall Meetings” to look at options.

This story happens. It’s happening now, and it’ll happen again. Tread carefully.


Interesting take. Honest question - what about just offering non-equity memberships? Wouldn’t this address the issues?


Somebody needs to own the club and be financially liable.


That’s where groups like Concert Golf Partners come in. They just buy the club outright and it’s theirs. All equity is gone.


Completely agree with this golf clubs in the British isles are designed to work in a way that all the money made is reinvested isn’t he golf club.

So much so that a number of clubs overturned a high court ruling so that the clubs are taxed like charities instead of commercial businesses.

I played golf with a member at a Scottish club and he told me a story about Donald Trump meeting the members at Turnberry Golf Club, they have the right to play the course even though it’s generally seen as a resort. He asked them how much there membership was and they said it was a figure of close to £1500. He retorted by saying so £1500 x 12 is £18,000 a year. They answered no £1500 is our annual membership fee.


I see combatting this with the semi private model. Just charge a high enough fee for the public to keep volume down or limit the tee times.


Semi private devalues “membership” you basically become a yearly pass holder with minor booking privileges unless there are heavy restrictions on public play. Nothing wrong with that but it would leave a real sour taste for the people who kicked in 50k


What is the other course? SVCC? I know the club you are talking about where you are a member.