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xrayvizhen

Private Clubs vs. Public - Advantages/Disadvantages

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As the O.P., I’ll just summarize my recent experience .While I could afford it, and could very, very definitely get used to it, the country club life isn’t for me. When you come down to it, it’s about money.

The club I was invited to, Eagle Oaks in Farmingdale, NJ, is magnificent. The golf course itself, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller, is impeccably manicured with precisely outlined greens, fringes, bunkers, fairways and two cuts of rough. There are no grass dead spots anywhere, no soggy drainage depressions in the middle of the fairways, or scum in the water hazards. The pace of play was unreal…18 holes in 3 ½ hours - mid-week. We never saw another soul on the golf course until we caught up with a group of ladies, who had teed off a half hour ahead of us, on the 16th hole. And there were no assholes anywhere. No slobs with their golf caps on backwards swilling beer, playing loud music and being obnoxious. (Like I experienced yesterday at my county course.) As far as the other amenities; the large practice tees have real grass and there’s a newly completed learning center as well. The clubhouse is also unreal, with a grill room you could die for, a steak house and wine cellar. The locker room?  Forget about just changing your shoes, you could live in it comfortably. Money-wise, all of this costs what I consider to be a reasonable initiation fee plus the monthly dues, food and beverage fees, but only when compared with the other top clubs in my area.

I’ve concluded it’s not for me because I put a lot of stock in being able to play many different golf courses, and this club had just the one 18 hole links. Knowing me, if I was a member, I would try to get the most bang for my buck by playing that same one course over and over again, which would eventually drive me nuts. Sure, I could go to other places, but then I would have to pay extra, kind of defeating the purpose. I figured I play about 50 rounds of golf a year. Divide that by the amortized initiation fee, add to that the monthly costs and fiscally, as someone else said. It just wouldn’t make sense. Would I play more than 50 rounds a year though if I were a member? Most definitely. Would I be able to play enough to cost justify? Probably not. Finally, this particular club is just too far from my home, over an hour. I would need to find one much closer.

So I really see the benefits of the country club, and there are many, but in the long run, I think I’ll be happier in my current situation; a mix of the county 36-hole course, which at one time was listed in Golf Digest’s top 100 public courses, the two other golf courses the county operates and the five resort courses.

I’ll keep thinking about it though.

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I'm a little late reading up on this post.  But, here is my take and opinion...FWIW.

I am a member of a private club.  This is my 5th country club to belong to in the past 50 years.  My reason for each one of those clubs has been moving residence from one place to another.  

I live in a country club community.  I had several options but what sold me on this club was the neighborhood and the viability of the club itself.  Lots of country clubs have gone under in the US in the past few years.  This club is solid, privately owned by an owner who is also the developer of the gated neighborhood where the club is located.  It has a solid revenue stream.  To live, or own a lot, in this neighborhood...you must pay an initiation fee up front and maintain a social membership at the very minimum.  Lot sizes here range from 1/2acre to up to 10acres.  Homes range from 3000sq ft to over 10,000sq ft. with prices all the way up in the millions.  You can own and operate your own golf cart here as long as it meets the standard set for carts.  While there are numerous millionaires living here, the club is very unassuming.  The golf course is well maintained and generally some type of improvement going on all the time.  Fairly easy to get a tee time or find someone to go out with.  Pace of play is generally under 4 hours.  So, all of the above is why I live and belong here.

Now, that said...probably 50% of my golf is not played at my club.  I belong to 2 tournament leagues, play in the MGA at a daily fee course in addition to playing in the SMGA at my club.  I am old enough that I don't have a lot of other priorities to prevent me from playing golf very very frequently.  I have been asked why I bother belonging to a private club since I play so much golf outside of my club.  Well, that is pretty simple...I can go hit range balls pretty much any time I want for as long as I want.  If I want to go play 3 holes, 6holes, 9holes, a full 18...I can do that easily pretty much any time I want.  I have a regular group that I play with on Saturday and a different group on Sunday when I am not playing tournaments elsewhere.  Plus...I like belonging to a private club.  It is my "kind of thing.".  Playing as much as I do elsewhere, if I could not afford it, might be a different story.  But, I can.

Edited by RickK

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8 hours ago, xrayvizhen said:

As the O.P., I’ll just summarize my recent experience .While I could afford it, and could very, very definitely get used to it, the country club life isn’t for me. When you come down to it, it’s about money.

The club I was invited to, Eagle Oaks in Farmingdale, NJ, is magnificent. The golf course itself, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller, is impeccably manicured with precisely outlined greens, fringes, bunkers, fairways and two cuts of rough. There are no grass dead spots anywhere, no soggy drainage depressions in the middle of the fairways, or scum in the water hazards. The pace of play was unreal…18 holes in 3 ½ hours - mid-week. We never saw another soul on the golf course until we caught up with a group of ladies, who had teed off a half hour ahead of us, on the 16th hole. And there were no assholes anywhere. No slobs with their golf caps on backwards swilling beer, playing loud music and being obnoxious. (Like I experienced yesterday at my county course.) As far as the other amenities; the large practice tees have real grass and there’s a newly completed learning center as well. The clubhouse is also unreal, with a grill room you could die for, a steak house and wine cellar. The locker room?  Forget about just changing your shoes, you could live in it comfortably. Money-wise, all of this costs what I consider to be a reasonable initiation fee plus the monthly dues, food and beverage fees, but only when compared with the other top clubs in my area.

I’ve concluded it’s not for me because I put a lot of stock in being able to play many different golf courses, and this club had just the one 18 hole links. Knowing me, if I was a member, I would try to get the most bang for my buck by playing that same one course over and over again, which would eventually drive me nuts. Sure, I could go to other places, but then I would have to pay extra, kind of defeating the purpose. I figured I play about 50 rounds of golf a year. Divide that by the amortized initiation fee, add to that the monthly costs and fiscally, as someone else said. It just wouldn’t make sense. Would I play more than 50 rounds a year though if I were a member? Most definitely. Would I be able to play enough to cost justify? Probably not. Finally, this particular club is just too far from my home, over an hour. I would need to find one much closer.

So I really see the benefits of the country club, and there are many, but in the long run, I think I’ll be happier in my current situation; a mix of the county 36-hole course, which at one time was listed in Golf Digest’s top 100 public courses, the two other golf courses the county operates and the five resort courses.

I’ll keep thinking about it though.

Interesting post. I'm the same way, not that I can afford a private club, but I do like to play different courses. We've used Golfnow to get on courses that we otherwise couldn't at reasonable rates. 

There's a local outfit that owns three clubs, and one membership fee gets you access to all of them. Avalon Lakes is a Pete Dye design and re-design, built to try to attract a PGA tournament. It is spectacular. Squaw Creek CC used to be the "Jewish" country club in this area, and also used to host an LPGA event. The ladies loved the place! I got a chance to play it a few years ago and can understand why. The third course is Buhl Farms CC just across the line in Sharon, PA. 

Years ago I talked to a guy at the bar of the local golf dome (when it was still standing), who used to be a member at another local club. He quit there to join the above referenced. He told me that his old club had recently sent him a letter asking him if he would consider re-upping. He asked why would he spend $8,000/year, plus monthly minimums to play one course, when for $3,000/year he could play three? Plus, it's a non-equity club so if the roof goes bad he doesn't get an assessment! 

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All three are beautiful courses. I used to own a condo next to Avalon Lakes. LPGA played there before the move to Squaw Creek. 

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15 minutes ago, famousdavis said:

I only play at private clubs.  

No Pinehurst or Pebble Beach, no St Andrews or Carnoustie?

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24 minutes ago, famousdavis said:

I only play at private clubs.  

In San Diego?   you never stop by Torrey Pines?   

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33 minutes ago, famousdavis said:

I only play at private clubs.  

Go away troll.

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42 minutes ago, famousdavis said:

I only play at private clubs.  

That is your prerogative. You are missing out on a lot of great golf courses.

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

No Pinehurst or Pebble Beach, no St Andrews or Carnoustie?

He doesn’t have his own parking spaces there...

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23 hours ago, geo63 said:

All three are beautiful courses. I used to own a condo next to Avalon Lakes. LPGA played there before the move to Squaw Creek. 

Wow! A former local! But actually, the LPGA tourney got started at Squaw Creek, since that was the home course of the founder of the tournament. Then, for whatever reason, the tourney moved to Avalon Lakes, the original design which was flat a pancake. I don't think Dye paid a whole lot of attention to it. Old Avalon across the road had more elevation change, which isn't saying a whole lot! 

Then Avalon Lakes was bought by the owner of American Waste, as well as the hotel and resort, and the LPGA tourney either went away for a few years, or went back to Squaw Creek while Dye redesigned the Lakes course. Once the LPGA tourney went back there, and I got a chance to see the place, I swore that Dye must have moved about a million yards of dirt to create that course! It's a masterpiece! And the lady pros raved about it! 

It's nice to have a course owner so dedicated to the game. There's a local am tourney called Greatest Golfer in the Valley run by the Vindy. The youth section of the tourney gets to play a qualifier and the final at Avalon Lakes! How sweet is that?

Edited by Buckeyebowman

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7 hours ago, Buckeyebowman said:

Wow! A former local! But actually, the LPGA tourney got started at Squaw Creek, since that was the home course of the founder of the tournament. Then, for whatever reason, the tourney moved to Avalon Lakes, the original design which was flat a pancake. I don't think Dye paid a whole lot of attention to it. Old Avalon across the road had more elevation change, which isn't saying a whole lot! 

Then Avalon Lakes was bought by the owner of American Waste, as well as the hotel and resort, and the LPGA tourney either went away for a few years, or went back to Squaw Creek while Dye redesigned the Lakes course. Once the LPGA tourney went back there, and I got a chance to see the place, I swore that Dye must have moved about a million yards of dirt to create that course! It's a masterpiece! And the lady pros raved about it! 

It's nice to have a course owner so dedicated to the game. There's a local am tourney called Greatest Golfer in the Valley run by the Vindy. The youth section of the tourney gets to play a qualifier and the final at Avalon Lakes! How sweet is that?

Your right. I forgot about when it was the Phar-Mor at Squaw Creek for a few years. 

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I live in the DFW metroplex and you pretty much only have two choices for private courses. 

1. Clubcorp owned course (majority of which tier 2) 

or 

2. Private invite only club that you have little to no chance of ever stepping onto unless your a well known billionaire or former president (dallas surprisingly has a ton of these exclusive clubs due to the extreme upper tier business wealth). 

 

If your a casual golfer than DFW is perfect due to the vast selection of good Public courses scatter across the city. For a casual golfer public is the way to go 

For the more serious Clubcorp is actually cheaper. Most of the tier 2 memberships are $300-400 and get you unlimited access to over 10 facilities that are scattered across the city so your pretty much guaranteed to have a facility within 15 minutes of both your job and house. 

Advantage is price and condition of the course. I consider myself a step above casual and I could easily spend $20 twice a week on buckets of balls ($40 total) and then $50-100 for green fees on a public course if I didn't have a membership (I would be paying more money to play both an inferior practice facility and course). 

 

 

 

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It's amazing the differences in perspective depending on what part of the country you are located in. Years ago, when I was in the wine business, I played a round with a winemaker on a course near Paso Robles. It cost $65 at the time, which he assured me was about the cheapest golf you could play in the area. He wanted to take me to a different course, which was more expensive, but they had a tournament that day. 

I played last Saturday for $35, and was pissed! I didn't think the course was worth that kind of money, but they have no problem getting play, so it's what the market will bear. What kills me is that the economists will tell you that this location is in "Appalachia". Yet, the parking lot was jammed with people spending money like they have it! Which apparently they do! Makes we wonder about those economists. 

I've played Pete Dye tracks for less (Fowler's Mill) by using GolfNow. Now that's a golf experience. Here in NE Ohio we are kind of blessed. We've been losing population overall, and we are "overbuilt" for golf! Too many courses for too few golfers so rates came down to compete. We've lost some courses in the process, some low rent, but some nice ones too! 

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