When I was a kid, golf was a sport reserved for the white, established elite. These well-to-do families often belonged to country clubs that most people simply couldn’t afford.
But that was a long time ago and golf has grown exponentially in popularity since then. As a result, access to the game has grown as well. So much so that you don’t need to be a member of one of the wealthiest families in town to belong to a country club.
With that being said, the amount of money you can expect to pay at a country club is going to vary greatly. Some country clubs are ultra-exclusive, while others have monthly dues that are less than $100 a month. There are also a bevy of factors and costs you need to consider before deciding if you want to join a country club.
Let’s start from the beginning.
In order to join a private club, you’re going to be required to pay what’s called an initiation fee just to get your foot in the door. Initiation fees can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars at blue-collar clubs to north of $500,000 at the most exclusive clubs.
However, keep your eyes out during membership drives or promotions. Sometimes private clubs will waive the initiation fee for a period of time or allow you to pay in installments. These programs can take a lot of the sting out of joining a country club.
Monthly Dues and Types of Membership
Most all country clubs offer a plethora of different membership options. They’re often dictated by age, number of people on the membership (single, couple, or family), and residence.
Once you’ve joined a country club, you’ll be billed dues monthly. This is a fancy way of saying this is the monthly cost you pay to use the facilities at a country club.
Just like initiation fees, monthly dues vary a lot depending on the particular country club you join. Usually monthly dues are correlated with the initiation fee you pay up front to join. The cheaper the initiation fee, the cheaper the dues, and vice versa.
Young Executive Memberships
Country clubs are always trying to attract younger members. As a result, many country clubs offer what’s called a young executive membership that only people under a certain age are privy to. Whether a young executive membership is for a single, couple, or family, the initiation fee and dues are usually cheaper than regular memberships. However, once you reach the young executive age threshold, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the more expensive membership.
Just like young executive memberships, golf memberships are meant for singles, couples, and families. People in this membership category usually comprise the majority of members and are too old for young executive memberships.
Corporate memberships are designed for businesses in the community that want their employees to have access to the country club. These are often used to court clients, for business meetings, and of course for recreation.
Corporate memberships normally come with a limit on the number of rounds that can be played in a given month or year. The initiation fee and monthly dues are usually less for this reason.
Non-resident memberships are especially popular with retirees who spend half the year in one location and half the year in another. Like corporate memberships, they usually come with a limit on the number of rounds a member can play in a given year. Here again, both the initiation fee and monthly dues are cheaper than full-blown golf memberships.
Junior memberships are meant for kids under the age of 18. In an effort to grow the game and get youth involved, most country clubs make Junior memberships much more affordable than adult memberships. In most cases, no initiation fee is required and instead of paying monthly dues, junior memberships are paid in full at the beginning of the year.
Depending on the club, Juniors may see some playing restrictions on days reserved for men and women, or when club tournaments are taking place.
With that said, they provide young people with a tremendous opportunity to learn and enjoy the game.
Social memberships are for people that want access to all the club’s amenities except golf. Such amenities include fitness facilities, the pool, and bar and restaurant.
If a social member chooses to play golf, they’re usually charged the guest rate.
Athletic memberships are great for people that just want to use the fitness and athletic facilities. They typically don’t have any privileges for dining or access to golf. Again, these memberships are much cheaper than golf memberships.
What Other Fees Are Associated with a Country Club Membership?
Being a member of a country club is a privilege. But it’s a privilege you pay for. Aside from the initiation fee and monthly dues you pay, you can expect some other expenses on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
Locker and Club Storage
A lot of private clubs have lockers where members keep clothes and extra gear and equipment. If you choose to rent a locker, you should expect to pay an extra $20 to $50 per month.
The same goes for club storage. A lot of members like the convenience of being able to store their clubs at the course instead of having to get them in and out of the car every round. The price for a slot in the bag room should cost you roughly the same price as a locker.
Cart and trail Fees
Some memberships include a cart in your monthly dues, it just depends on the club. If a cart is not included, you’ll be charged a cart fee for every round you choose to take a cart. This fee will usually be somewhere between $15 and $25.
If you have your own private cart, your country club will likely charge you a trail fee to use it out on the course. This can range anywhere from just a few hundred dollars a year to well over $1,000.
Over the course of time, country clubs make upgrades to the golf course and facilities. When this happens, all the members are assessed an amount of money to pay for the project. Assessment costs are completely project dependent. They can be anything from $20 to thousands.
Food and Beverage Minimums
One of the benefits of being a member of a country club is having the opportunity to enjoy exquisite food and drink that only members have access to. However, food and beverage departments have high costs and usually don’t make much money.
In order to help mitigate costs, most private clubs require you to spend a certain amount of money on food and drink every quarter. If you fall short of this minimum, you’ll still receive a bill for the full amount.
Food and beverage minimums can range anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to $1,000 or more depending on the club.
There’s no denying the privileges that come along with being a member of a country club. The golf course is sure to be perfectly manicured, you won’t have to worry about slow rounds, you can play whenever you want, and you’ll receive the finest customer service imaginable.
However, country clubs aren’t always cheap to join. And after you join there are added fees you’ll be expected to pay. Before you pull the trigger, make sure it’s something you can afford.
Are you a member of a country club? If so, we’d love to hear what you like most about the private club experience, and any tips you might have for people considering joining one of their own. Let us know in the comments below.