Reasons I joined a private club:
1. Tee times on the weekends. I play in a regular group that ALWAYS has a tee time within the first 1/2 of the openning morning tee time. I am able to book online 12 days in advance and while it is a draw, I have never had my tee time vary by more than 1/2 hour of my requested tee time.
2. Pace of play. As expected on my early morning tee times I will finish in well under 4 hours, usually 3.5 hrs or less. When I go out in the afternoon the worse time would be 4.5 hrs and usually in the late afternoon I can get 9 hole in well under 2 hours.
3. I can play less than 18 holes on a regular basis. A bonus is that my course wraps back to the club house on many holes other than 9 and 18. In fact I can finish after holes 5, 13, 16 and have a short walk back to the club house.
4. My club is a "cashless" club in that we sign for all transaction while at the club. When I take clients there I do not have to take my wallet out to purchase anything as I would have to at a public course. It just take away the uncomfortable situation of always having to rush up to the cart girl, 9th hole grill etc so that I ensure I pay for my client.
5. As a personal rule I don't talk business while I am at the club. I don't solicit for business nor do I wish to have other members solicit for my business. However you do build up relationships with other members who are often leaders or senior members in their respective business or line of work. This allows me access to people that may help my friends or clients. An example is a relationship that I built up with a very senior member in a specialists area, he is so successful that he does not take on new clients. One of my good clients needed help in that area and I was able to secure an appointment with this member for my client even though he does not normally take on new clients.
I am envious of those of you who live in the southern part of the US as you have access to so many courses. Up here in the Pacific North West we just don't have that many courses and consequently in order to get a regular tee time a private club is the only way to go. In addition, a couple of the posters here mentioned that $50,000 to join a club is expensive, well up here that would be below the average initiation fee for a private club.