Long term viability of the American Country Club model?


@munihack I’ve looked into the national membership thing, particularly close to where my parents live, so I can play 5-8 times when I am in town. I’ve found a couple of places that are interesting, but what I struggle with is less the annual dues ($1500) then paying $10K initiation fee. I struggle to commit to that big number not knowing if I’ll use it…

(BTW, the courses I have considered are newer courses, but top 100 modern courses - think C&C, Hanse, Doak pedigrees)


Certainly not top 100 (and I know it’s come up before on this chain), but there is an option through Club Corp to have a travel membership for $25 per month and that gets you 2 rounds per month at any Club Corp course for a cart fee (typically $35). They typically have a $1000 initiation, but my state golf assoc had a link to an initiation-free membership. Worked well in Palm Springs (4 courses). But cheap enough to work if you travel to areas where they’re located.


I live in Kansas City with family in the Wichita area. Prairie Dunes was doing the National membership for anyone outside of the Hutchinson area - Wichita included (just under an hour away). If I remember right, they were offering 2K initiation and $150-$200 a month. For a top 25 club in the world, seems like a ridiculous deal.

If I lives in Wichita, I would have joined and used the course as if it were my home course. Living a few hours away, I cannot justify it even though it is world class.


Being from KC, I knew of people who makes 10x that initiation and still drove probabaly just under an hour to get to their clubs…that is a huge deal if true! And their clubs were not near prairie dunes!


Yeah nothing in the KC area comes close. Got that insight from a family member who knows the pro at Prairie personally (used to be the pro at Tallgrass in Wichita). Were trying to scheme a “family” deal, but we are all way out of the age range and they would not bite!


To add to this, the clubs that do have lower monthly costs are typically very, very exclusive and have fairly high initiations. I worked at one for a while and one rainy fall morning was reading through the membership book (rules, dues, directory, etc) and the monthly costs weren’t crazy (I could easily afford). But if you pair it with the initiation fee and responding to every inquiry with, “sorry we’re full”, it’s not as feasible.


One question @DameLoftedUp because I think I’m reading it wrong. In your above example of the math, who pays the course, who pays the member, and how pays you? If a greens fee is $75 (that goes to the course), the member keeps the net correct?


Bumping this since I’m starting the process at looking at a few different clubs. I visited and played at a CC near my office yesterday. The costs were pretty reasonable ($1,500 initiation and $270/mo dues) with a promotion going on that if you join now, you won’t pay dues until January (not all that useful since there’s about 1.5 months of golf left in the year). That said, I liked, but didn’t love the course, and since the pro said 99% of people ride what’s a fairly walkable layout, I don’t think I’ll pull the trigger. This was third on the list of potential clubs, so hopefully the other two are a step up. Still was a worthwhile experience, and a nice free round of golf.


Out of curiosity, why does that factor into your decision?


I prefer walking unless I’m trying to fly around quickly to finish a twilight round after work. If everyone is riding, I’d rather not be the only person walking every Saturday/Sunday morning. The club also has a ~$20 cart fee per round so that changes the finances quite a bit if you play 3x per week and ride each time out.


I would say there is the same percentage ride versus walk at my club. I play with riders quite frequently and it doesn’t slow anything down. Quite the opposite actually, I find myself waiting on folks who are sharing a cart. I do ride from time to time but walk more often than not. It also helps that I could care less what others think, and I walk 18 quite often by myself.

Most clubs in my area have a cart fee ($20-$25), while a few have a “cart program” ($1000-$1500 annually)


I’m not worried about slowing things down, more the “caring what others think.” No issues walking solo either. The other two clubs I’m looking seem to have more of a walking culture (one of them has a caddie program, and I’ve seen people walking when driving past the other), and seem like a better fit in other ways as well.


edit edit: wrong thread!


Adopting the “fuck 'em” out look helps tremendously…good luck, I’ve really lucked out at my club. Good people, players, great course


1,500 initiation isn’t bad so if it doesn’t work out you’ll live. But I’d say if you don’t love the course then don’t join. You’re going to play that course all the time, and if you find yourself not enjoying a ton already, then you may never.


Couldn’t agree more with this. If you aren’t sure on the course, look elsewhere. Nothing worse than bites remorse


proximity matters A LOT to me.

  • If you live close you will use to 4x as much (swing by for 30 minutes at lunch to hit balls),
  • use a 2.5 hour window to play a quick 9.
  • Dont care about how much you drink while you are there b/c you live a mile away
  • spend more time in lockerroom watching sports b/c you arent in as big a hurry.
  • get to know more people that live nearby and are happy to drink with you in said lockerroom
  • shit my wife just texted, my kid is awake, I gotta roll, boys!


Can I ask which clubs you’re interested in? I’m familiar with the area and might be able to offer some insights.




The visit yesterday was Elcona CC in Elkhart. The two I’m more interested in are Morris Park and South Bend CC.