What are the Benefits of a Private Golf Club?

Joining a private golf club has a lot of benefits including:

  • Unlimited golf
  • Priority tee-times
  • Quicker rounds of golf
  • A sense of community
  • Business networking
  • Value
  • Amenities

Primary members at a golf club are entitled to play unlimited golf–seven days a week, without paying additional fees. It is usually much easier getting a tee-time at a private club vs. a public or semi-private course. Other benefits include unlimited use of all facilities such as the driving range and practice areas. For some, unlimited usage presents a great value.

The demographic at most private clubs is older and more affluent. Golfers at private clubs usually carry a lower certified handicap than members at non private golf clubs. Status of being a member of a private club is also a big consideration when choosing to join a particular club. Many members use their club to entertain clients or customers.

The expectations of pace of play at a private club is usually 3:45-4:15 for 18 holes. Where a public course and semi-private courses are typically 4:30-5:00 is the norm.

Most members at clubs will tell you they joined a club to play golf. But over time they form strong friendships from playing golf and participating in social activities, and that is why they usually stay.

Several clubs whether golf clubs or golf & country clubs have additional amenities for members to use such as workout equipment, spas, and restaurants or lounges. Private locker rooms and golf club storage is also available for convenience.

What Types of Private Clubs are There?

Equity vs. Non-Equity

Equity Membership

An equity share membership is eligible to receive a refund or money from the sale of the share when departing a golf club. Equity members are entitled to vote on major decisions of the club, and are eligible to serve on the board of directors. An equity member will be responsible as an owner, for any assessments that might occur. Typically the face value of an equity membership will go up and down in relevance to supply and demand of membership at the club.

Non-Equity Membership

In most cases, non-equity members do not have voting right, or have obligations to pay club assessments. A member can leave the club at anytime, and will not be responsible for paying dues going forward, also they will not receive a refund for their initial deposit or initiation.

Golf & Country Clubs vs. Golf Clubs

Golf & Country Clubs

Golf & Country Clubs core business is usually golf, but can also offer other amenities such as tennis courts, swimming pools, gymnasiums, curling rinks to name a few. Most often fees are charged twelve months a year, with various levels of membership access.

Golf Clubs

Golf Clubs are all about golf, and have limited amenities outside of its’ core business. In colder climates such as northern states as well as most provinces in Canada, members only pay dues during their golf season. If funds are available and land is available, it is not uncommon for golf clubs to eventually add additional amenities for their membership to use.

Primary deciding factors on what club to choose

These are questions you should ask of current members of a club, golf professionals, membership managers, and general managers. The list is long, but they are all important.

  • Golf course
    • is there more than one course?
    • are there multiple tee options?
    • is the course(s) challenging or too difficult?
    • are the greens, fairways, bunkers, tee boxes well maintained?
  • Golf programs
    • is there a men’s night/leagues?
    • ladies day?
    • seniors day?
    • club tournaments
    • golf lessons?
  • Family friendly
    • is there a junior program?
    • are there other activities for kids?
    • can kids be left alone at the club?
  • Financial
    • what is the initial price to join?
    • what are the annual dues for each category (family, spouse, children etc.)?
    • is there a food & beverage minimum?
    • what is the club’s balance sheet like? debt? reserves?
  • Location
    • how long does it take to get to the club from your home?
    • how close is the club to your work?
  • Upcoming major projects
    • are there any significant course renovations planned
    • is the clubhouse in need of repair or expansion
  • Dining
    • what kind of dining is available?
    • are there formal and casual options?
    • is dining available all year?
  • Social activities
    • what kind of activities are there during the year?
  • Amenities
    • what are the practice facilities like?
    • is the pro-shop well stocked?
    • is a private locker available?
    • is there club storage?
    • are there golf simulators?
    • is there an exercise room?
    • are the facilities well maintained?
    • access to rent or use banquet facility or meeting room?

When you meet with a membership manager or a general manager at a club. Ask them for the previous year’s financial statements, a strategic plan, past newsletters, and a calendar of events.

Joining a golf club is often the second or third biggest purchase that you will ever make. It will also become a second home now and through your senior years.

Golf is a game for a lifetime.