Long term viability of the American Country Club model?


I’ve thought about it. I’m 37 though, so joining white beeches would be like throwing away 10K on an initiation fee for only 2-3 years of play. The <40 monthly dues aren’t all that bad and if I was 7-10 years younger I think that would probably be my play. I might just wait and save up for Hackensack though as it’s literally on my drive home.


One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is golfing buddies… I play with a group of ~6-8 guys on the regular… only 1 is a member at a club, of the other 8, MAYBE 1 can afford to join his club. I think one reason you don’t always see younger people jumping into the CC life is that they’d rather play with their friends on a $50 muni course than with a grumpy 65 year old guy at a fancy course


All you need to do is ask/hang around the course while you are there as a prospective member about the age of membership and how easy it is to get a game with the younger guys. I too enjoy playing with my college buddies and other buddies that don’t belong to a club but I also enjoy playing with my buddies who are members at my club.


Wonder how the numbers have shifted from 2011 due to the economic climate. I have gradually seen a rise in membership costs/joiner fees and quantity of members at clubs. In 2012-2015 time frame, the club I wanted to join was doing no joiner and begging for members. The last two years they are totally full and not even accepting new members.


Anyone ever had any luck getting their company to pay country club dues? Do you think country clubs are a good place to develop business?


My law firm does not pay my dues, but they do reimburse me for golf/dining expenses on the course if I’m out there specifically with a client or prospective client. As an attorney, it’s a great place to develop business, not only because I have a private club where I can take clients, but because many of the club’s members are small to mid-sized business owners that need legal help. Some of my best clients are folks I golf with regularly and built the relationships through the game, long before they needed my professional services. Just depends on your line of work, though.


Our club has a pretty good model for getting younger members, and as a result, we have a really strong group of guys under the age of 40 that are good golfers and good to hang with.

Private club, 18 hole, well-maintained golf course, clubhouse/dining (no minimums but mandatory $40 monthly gratuity that goes into the pot for staff; further tipping allowed but not expected as our staff are employees with comparably good pay and benefits), tennis, pool, gym, etc. We have equity and non-equity memberships; equity requires you to own a home in the neighborhood. Non-equity outside it.

For non-equity members:

Join before age 30 - 40% of the full initiation fee, never have to make up the difference; 40% monthly dues until age 30, then 60% dues until 35; then 80% dues until 40; then 100% dues.
Join aged 30-34 - 60% of the full initiation fee, never have to make up the difference; same dues structure.
Join aged 35-39 - 80% of the full initiation fee, never have to make up the difference; same dues structure
Join 40+ - full initiation fee; 100% monthly dues.

Our club does a little better than breaking even year over year. But we have a group text of about 20 guys and it’s always easy to find a game. I enjoy it very much.


@jwfickett thanks for the reply. I’m getting into a commercial lending role at my bank where they will want me to bring in new banking relationships…I’ve been trying to brainstorm the best way to get new customers and one thing I do know is that cold calling is not very successful. I think the best people for me to meet are business owners, like you said and so I’m contemplating asking my bank to reimburse monthly dues…$200/month at the club I’m looking at for a Junior membership. I might even give them a “money-back guarantee” that over 5 years of membership, I’ll earn all of those dues back plus more. I figure I don’t have anything to lose to at least ask. Would love to hear anyone else’s reply’s - positive or negative on asking a boss for this kind of thing. Maybe I’m dreaming a little too big?


No problem. My wife is in commercial real estate, so it has benefits for her as well. We look at it as both an investment in our network and a fun way to spend some disposable income. She doesn’t golf, but she does enjoy the pool, the dining, the gym, and meeting folks at social events, as well as having a place to entertain clients or others in the network.

Agree that there’s no harm in asking them to reimburse your dues as long as it is helping you bring in business. Good luck.


I don’t think $200 a month is that big of an ask, now if it skyrockets up to 500+ a month and you expect them to pay all of that after pitching it at $200 I could see that being an issue. The biggest hurdle I’d see for you is if they have never done something like that before. I think it’s a good idea, and it’s always good for businesses to try out new things, but you know how some people are. They are stuck in their ways and they can’t give Bobby this because Sam never got it, and then what about Theresa over there. Good Luck though.


I live in Minneapolis where it is feasible to have snow on the ground for a majority of the year (just got 15 inches this weekend!), so besides costs, the limited time I’d be able to access the club at which I play year-round dues is a major point of contention.

Anyone who has a membership in the northern part of the country want to share their experience on what they’ve taken from the club when you can’t golf? I would be looking at using a club for the warm weather activities (no X-country skiing for me), but just not sure I could mentally avoid the mindset of “getting my money’s worth” when I could be on the course for 5-6 months a year.


I also live in Minneapolis and want to join a CC but paying dues when the course is covered with snow doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. It sounds even less great after I realized that CCs in MN cost more than most other states excluding the east coast ($700 a month on average from what I’ve seen).


Completely agree with this. I’m in southeast Michigan now and there is a very nice private club right across the street from me that I have contemplated joining for YEARS. But, the sticking point for me is the huge payment that I’m making when the club isn’t even open or available.

The basic breakdown comes to $580/month; $6,965 annual.
Includes a great practice facility, 2 tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness center, nice clubhouse.

Just breaking down the golf…if I played May ~ October (6 months). For comparison sake, let’s say $70/round at a comparable public/semi-public course with convenience of tee times and amenities factored in.
I would need to play ~100 rounds (of 18) in 6 months to make it worth while. That’s a lot of golf all played at one facility to simply break even on your investment. It might work for someone with a flexible job and no kids…but pretty tough for me.

And the above does not factor in buddies trips, random invites for scrambles/events, other great courses in Michigan that I like to play, etc…

Bottom line: it’s tough to justify the cost when you can’t play for half the year.


While we don’t have quite the weather issues here in Colorado that you guys have in the upper midwest, our pricing for clubs is still generally out of the reach for most people. I actually attribute it to the fact that our “season” is short. I mean you can play here year round but only the die hards do it. I keep hearing about how golf is dying, but it certainly isn’t here. Tough to get a morning tee time less than a week in advance. The fiance and I are looking at joining a club next year, but we’ll have to see, as a lot of the Junior Membership specials are actually filling clubs up quickly.


I am a member of a traditional country club in Boston area and so understand the concern around the short season. Today is opening day (although might not open with 4 inches of rain yesterday). We usually close around Dec. 1 - so no golf for 4.5 months.

Our dining facility remains open as does our indoor tennis courts, the “gym”, and paddle tennis courts. Candidly, other than a couple of dinners in the winter, I am never there - but my kids take tennis lessons and my friends play a lot of paddle tennis. Some of my other buddies do use a couple of indoor bays we have set up in the cart barn

But the pest part is that now that course is open, I am 100% going to swing a golf club this weekend. Don’t really need to worry about tee time, I don’t have to worry about which course is in good shape, I am just going to head over one afternoon and play some holes. Maybe 4, maybe 9, maybe 12, maybe 18. That being said, I will never be able to rationalize the (high) cost financially…


joining a club is not an investment and as such looking at it on a per round basis is almost always not gonna work. if there was a club right across the street i would join it. its great to just walk over play a few holes have some beers etc.


I live 8 miles from my club. It’s golf only, but we have been fortunate the last couple winters where it is warm enough to still get out a couple of days a week. I head over, hit the range for a few minutes and play a 4 or 5 hole loop. It gives you just “enough” before retreating from the cold.


I’m also a SE MI resident and have the same feelings on costs of private clubs versus available golf season therefore I haven’t seriously considered joining any clubs in the area. Out of curiosity, which club are you referring to in your post?


Generally, I agree with you. And that’s the reason why I would ever consider joining at all. You’re right, the numbers almost cannot factor in entertainment value and convenience.

I guess the point of my post was that it is very difficult to justify in a state where you can only play for 6 months (I would even argue less) a year. I lived in Nashville area for several years and could basically play year-round. The private club I belonged to then had very similar dues, about $8k per year. Easy decision.


I think many privates are now looking to boost revenue through offering more national memberships to people outside of an easy driving distance, about 100 miles or more.

How much would you pay to be a national member of a great club that you may only make it to 4-5 times a year?