Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
jorgesgolf

Downfall of the country club?

33 posts in this topic

Okay - maybe it isn't a "downfall", but I have heard stories from friends of mine that still live in the Pittsburgh area that some country clubs are having difficulty keeping the membership up and if the trend continues, these clubs may be looking at going semi-private or even public (or housing developments). Clubs that used to be "invite only" through sponsorship by a current member are now actively seeking new members by taking out ads in the local newspaper, or you can download an application off of the internet. I wanted to know if anyone else has been observing a similar trend or if this is something specific to western PA (or it may be overblown and not that big a deal in PA either).

Any thoughts?

Last thought - I have worked at country clubs, but never belonged to one and if some of these places opened their doors to the public, I would play them in a heartbeat. I was just wondering if this was a trend, blip on the radar or nothing at all.

jorgesgolf
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sign up (or log in) today! It's free (and you won't see this ad anymore)!

Sign up (or log in) today! It's free (and you won't see this ad anymore)!

Okay - maybe it isn't a "downfall", but I have heard stories from friends of mine that still live in the Pittsburgh area that some country clubs are having difficulty keeping the membership up and if the trend continues, these clubs may be looking at going semi-private or even public (or housing developments). Clubs that used to be "invite only" through sponsorship by a current member are now actively seeking new members by taking out ads in the local newspaper, or you can download an application off of the internet. I wanted to know if anyone else has been observing a similar trend or if this is something specific to western PA (or it may be overblown and not that big a deal in PA either).

Not sure of this specific issue, but I've read that a lot of courses in the Myrtle Beach area are having a hard time of it. A lot of areas overbuilt their golf facilities during the boom of the 90's, and now many are struggling to stay in business. It's expensive to maintain a course in good condition, and if a player has a choice, he's going to play at the best course he can afford. My home public course charges about $30 per 18 holes... That means I can play 100 rounds for $3000.... Last I heard that was about the cost for annual dues for a moderate private club. I don't think I've ever played 100 rounds in a year... maybe got close to that over a 2 year period during my most active golfing time. I also know that most clubs have a minimum amount that must be spent in the restaurant each month too. Most of the players I know wouldn't join such a club, not so much because of the expense, but because of the relative restrictiveness of it. Unless you have unlimited resources, you are almost committed to playing one course, eating in one restaurant. We prefer the freedom of being able to play any course, any day, and dining in a great variety of eateries, without having to worry about whether we are getting our money's worth out of our membership. Maybe that whole private club philosophy needs some serious overhauling. I know that a lot of clubs now are semi-private, giving preferences to those paying a monthly or annual dues, but also opening their doors to the general public to fill out the playing schedule. Many offer just golf memberships without the dining requirements added in. I played at a semi-private club in Florida in February... seems like a good way to go.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Last thought - I have worked at country clubs, but never belonged to one and if some of these places opened their doors to the public, I would play them in a heartbeat. I was just wondering if this was a trend, blip on the radar or nothing at all.

Having lived near, but never been to, a country club, I don't see the big deal with one. Are the tee times much better? Worth the cost? I've played a former country club course (Knollwood in LA area is run by American Golf and is public now). Besides, I rarely swim and I rarely play tennis, and I don't have (nor plan on having) a family, so I don't see the big attraction. Maybe it's just me. Would I play a new (to me) course if it were public and nearby? Absolutely! I live near some great country clubs that I wish I could play. Bel Air, Riviera (site of the Nissan Open), Brentwood, Los Angeles... but I doubt these places are cash starved.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Having lived near, but never been to, a country club, I don't see the big deal with one. Are the tee times much better? Worth the cost? I've played a former country club course (Knollwood in LA area is run by American Golf and is public now).

The places that you mentioned are those upper-echelon clubs that have a certain clientele (sp?) and will survive through thick-and-thin, no doubt. Likewise, Oakmont CC is obviously not going anywhere. I was thinking more along the lines of the lower level clubs that are somewhat the center of the community, where people of upper-middle class used to belong to, but that may not be the case anymore. It may have something to do with what Fourputt said, in that people want variety in their golf and their leisure time and don't want to be tied down to one golf course and one restaurant (where they have to spend a certain amount of money). I love Pittsburgh, but one knock on the city has been that it has problems keeping its young professionals from leaving the area. I thought that might be one reason for diminished membership in this particular region - meaning that older individuals are leaving the ranks of country club membership and younger people with the means to join are not around to do so. But - what do I know?
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The places that you mentioned are those upper-echelon clubs that have a certain clientele (sp?) and will survive through thick-and-thin, no doubt. Likewise, Oakmont CC is obviously not going anywhere. I was thinking more along the lines of the lower level clubs that are somewhat the center of the community, where people of upper-middle class used to belong to, but that may not be the case anymore. It may have something to do with what Fourputt said, in that people want variety in their golf and their leisure time and don't want to be tied down to one golf course and one restaurant (where they have to spend a certain amount of money). I love Pittsburgh, but one knock on the city has been that it has problems keeping its young professionals from leaving the area. I thought that might be one reason for diminished membership in this particular region - meaning that older individuals are leaving the ranks of country club membership and younger people with the means to join are not around to do so. But - what do I know?

The variety thing sounds about right. I need to bring my own lunch to work now-and-then just because the variety around here isn't great. I can't imagine having a minimum to spend in a restaurant over a period of time.

Now, if there were a golf-only membership for an area at a reasonable price, I can see spending money on that. Priority for a good golf course, esp. with reciprocal rights elsewhere, without worrying that I have to pay for the whole family membership and family events thing, might be up my alley. Once I'm no longer in school.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Sounds like everyone has touched a part of the reasons private clubs are looking for new ways to get new members. I think the main two reasons are the new young upper management people do not stay with the same companys or area longer than usually six years then they move to new cities for promotions in their company or new companys. Some of the older private courses are still run by the older members and they want to keep the club the same as when they joined even though the reasons have change. the older member used the club for business deals, they still are used for that reason but now many of the old members kids belong to the club thru their parents and are only using the club as a play ground for theirselfs and friends.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion you will see Private clubs which opened in the last 10 years begin to allow public play. The reason for this is b/c too many clubs opened when golf hit its boom and now they can not keep up the membership b/c people want variety and they do not want montly dues. The other reason is that this isnt the 1950's where people go to the club on the weekends and the men play golf, the woman play tennis and the kids do whatever it is that they would do. People with family's want to spend more time together... The clubs that have been private forever will never go away. They are run by old money and they would rather shut down then ever allow normal folks in to play. You will always have rich folks who want to sip scotch and smoke cigars with thier rich buddies and you have the have nots who want to enjoy golf but not to the extent of 30k per year...
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are having the same thing happen in the suburban Detroit area. As most of you may know, our ecconomy ranks near the very bottom nationally. Our area is driven by the auto industry. The last few years have been terrible and unfortunately there are only signs of it getting worse.

The country clubs around here range from the elite like Oakland Hills and Franklin Hills that will always heve a waiting list to the moderate ones that are seeing their membeship numbers drop at alarming rates. It is clearly an industry that requires disposable income. It gets tougher each year for people to justify paying a few hundred a month on dues and food minimums.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last year that mentioned one of our local clubs. Forrest Lake is a nice club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It is one of the more affluant areas in the country. At the time of the article they had a waiting list in the double figures of people trying to get out of their memberships. They have an equity based membership and to cancel you basically have to sell your membership back to the club. There were not enough new members waiting to join to offset the ones trying to leave.

A few years ago, another one in the same area, Wabeek, sent letters out to members of other local clubs offering to waive the initiation fee and give reduced dues to anyone that would join.

I would love to join one and the time is probably good for someone looking to join with all of the deals they are running. At the same time, I can't justify it right now. I play on Wednesday nights in a couples league that is all friends and family and I play on Sunday mornings with my regular group that is also all family. To justify the cost, I would have to play way more often, which my schedule won't allow, and probably give up those regular rounds to play at the club. I still would like to join a club eventually. I have always said by the time I'm 40. That give me 3 1/2 years.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There aren't too many country clubs in my area but the ones that are here are hurting. We have so many good courses around here people I talk to have a difficult time spending that kind of money to play one course all the time. Plus none of the country clubs around here have really great courses. All the real good courses are public. I don't know, I understand the desire to belong to a course for the comradery, but I have a lot of that at my muni. I know almost everyone. Its the same guys there everyday until 10:00AM when the general public invades. I don't know if every muni has that, but its almost like I am a member at the Muni Country Club.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

I live in WV...not a huge goilf stste..but we've lost several courses over the past few years to development, and had an 18 hole Championship course scheduled for construction,be cancelled. I hear that many courses will be closing due to financial reasons, or are up for sale now in South carolina...I don't know this.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking for an thread like this....

I live in Southern NH, about an hour north of Boston and I just joined this club. www.skymeadow.com

This place use to have a $15,000 Initiation fee with annual dues being $4,500.
Because membership is so low, they just dropped the Initian fee to $6000 and you can pay it off over five years. This course is always in GREAT shape and the layout is awesome too. My wife and I make $150k a year combined, so we're not rich, but we felt this was a luxury we could afford for now...

Anyway, I was wondering what you guys are paying out there for private club memberships? I've joined public courses in the past that have memberships available, but I got tired of never being able to get out because they have tournaments going off three times a week. I play well over 65 rounds a year and this place charges $85.00 for a guest fee, so I'll get my moneys worth.

I also spend about $500 a year in range balls, which I don't have to worry about anymore since this course has a grass driving range and balls are included in the price of membership.

Would love to hear from other's opinions out there...
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live in Central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg area) and there are quite a number of country clubs here. The most famous is probably Hershey Country Club with two courses (East and West) - they used to host the Reese's Cup on the Nationwide tour. They just finished a $25 million (?) renovation, and they are looking for new members. Inititation is $12,000 and monthly dues are $367 and F&B; minimum is $275/quarter. You also have to pay $18 for a cart anytime you play! It works out to $536/month, not counting the initiation fee if you play 52 rounds. Plus, Hershey is not super exlusive, in that guests of the Hershey Hotel and Heshey Lodge are allowed to play. I think Hogan was the pro here at one point. Too expensive for my blood, and Hershey is 40 minutes away from where I live...

Similar to Hershey, there are a number of other clubs that are marketing memberships, especially to the younger generation (20s, 30s). Then, there's the West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill, PA (which some regard as the best golf course in the area), that is capped at 425 members, and there is a waiting list a mile long. Either a member dies or someone leaves..
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found an interesting article this weekend on the SmartMoney website entitled "10 Things Your Country Club Won't Tell You." I think this an article people might want to read if they are thinking about joining a private club. Certainly, these are generalizations and don't apply to all clubs but I have read similar accounts in other articles I found during my web search.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found an interesting article this weekend on the SmartMoney website entitled "10 Things Your Country Club Won't Tell You." I think this an article people might want to read if they are thinking about joining a private club. Certainly, these are generalizations and don't apply to all clubs but I have read similar accounts in other articles I found during my web search.

I found the article you're talking about and most of it is CRAP... http://www.smartmoney.com/10things/i...tory=april2005 Before joining a club you should know exactly how much the int. fee is, the annual dues..etc. My place has no obligation for the Int fee or dues... If I decide to walk away after 3 months of being member, I don't owe them a dime. I pay on a monthly basis which comes out to $370 or so a month. When I was playing public courses and going to the range I was spending more than that a month on golf...
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live in Central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg area) and there are quite a number of country clubs here. The most famous is probably Hershey Country Club with two courses (East and West) - they used to host the Reese's Cup on the Nationwide tour. They just finished a $25 million (?) renovation, and they are looking for new members. Inititation is $12,000 and monthly dues are $367 and F&B; minimum is $275/quarter. You also have to pay $18 for a cart anytime you play! It works out to $536/month, not counting the initiation fee if you play 52 rounds. Plus, Hershey is not super exlusive, in that guests of the Hershey Hotel and Heshey Lodge are allowed to play. I think Hogan was the pro here at one point. Too expensive for my blood, and Hershey is 40 minutes away from where I live...

Ugh! Maybe it's the "I'm in my 20s" talking, but I've used a cart exactly once and hated the experience. I later walked the same club and had a much more enjoyable round (despite torrential rain for two holes in the walking time).
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

I found the article you're talking about and most of it is CRAP...

Most of it might be "crap" in your case, but like I said, they are generalizations and don't necessarily apply to every club that exists. Of course it is imporant to note that the club that you just joined decreased the initation fee by over half and now allows you to pay it off over 5 years. That type of deal looks like it would fall under the first point that they are trying to make.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of it might be "crap" in your case, but like I said, they are generalizations and don't necessarily apply to every club that exists. Of course it is imporant to note that the club that you just joined decreased the initation fee by over half and now allows you to pay it off over 5 years. That type of deal looks like it would fall under the first point that they are trying to make.

If you look at the site closely, there are all kinds of "10 things your blank blank blank didn''t tell you..." I'm not denying that country clubs are in tough shape, but I guess I'm lucky that they did lowe the Int fee, right? I'd still rather belong to a private club then play a 5 hour round at public course
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ugh! Maybe it's the "I'm in my 20s" talking, but I've used a cart exactly once and hated the experience. I later walked the same club and had a much more enjoyable round (despite torrential rain for two holes in the walking time).

IMHO the cart fee is not really excessive, but to require it seems to be so...

At the West Shore Country Club, you are more than welcome to walk. Being a 'full golf member' means you really pay for 'free'. All Hershey costs (monthly dues, F&B;, etc.) I mentioned were for a family....
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Advertisement
Advertisement


  • Want to join this community?

    We'd love to have you!

    Sign Up
  • 2017 TST Partners

    PING Golf
    Leupold Golf
    Snell Golf
    Talamore Golf Resort
    Lowest Score Wins
  • Posts

    • Some questions to kick off the run-up to and playing of the 2017 Masters Toonamint at Augusta National: Is Jordan Spieth the favorite to win after his collapse last year? Is it the best story in golf? If not Jordan, how about Dustin Johnson? Will Tiger Woods make the cut? Will he play? Will he surprise everyone (likely including himself at this point) and finish in the top ten? If he skips this tournament, will this be the last time anyone really cares? Last year's winner Danny Willett… does he contend again, or will his drop in play (evident at the Ryder Cup) continue? Ask any other questions you may have, and answer them, too.
    • One philosophy has pervaded my life. It's simple really, but doesn't seem to be easy to live with: "There has to be a better way." When I came to golf eight months ago, I applied this principle, as I had to everything I've ever done. Can this be better? Not just for me, but for others. I want to enjoy golf, and I want everyone to enjoy the game, even if they disagree with me or don't need any better. Recently I have been playing rounds of what some of us are calling Play 200. Each hole, I begin at the 200 yard mark (shorter par 3's excepted, of course). I start every hole from 200 yards from the green according to my Garmin GPS watch. Because I can't reach the green in one shot, I have to plan what club I'm going to hit, where I want to land it, from how far out I want to be to hit my second shot into the green. Yesterday, I shot 6 over for nine holes. It was fun. By eliminating the tee shot, I also cut my nine holes down to less than an hour and a half. I played a few holes with two other guys, so that slows it down. They didn't mind, after they understood what I'm doing. I'm practicing. I spent a hour on the range practicing my full swing. I spent a half hour chipping and putting. Then I played nine holes, (after 3 o'clock it's only $10), and was home in time to fix my wife dinner when she got home from work. That's what I call a great golf day. I left the course happy about how I spent my day. My driver is not reliable. My three wood isn't either. Even if it was, I would still keep playing from 200. Some say, "That's not golf!", but if you take the driver out of the bag, is it still golf? If you tee off with an iron every hole, the game has changed. If you "move up," to what? is it still golf? Yes. All of that is golf. So why not do something that works, that takes over half of the frustration out of the game? Why not try something that makes the game more fun, esp if you are over 100 avg.?   Thank you for the folks who have written in support. I know this is a place where people who push the envelope are not popular. I have run into this in many places where the status quo is well-protected. I push the boundaries. I think to myself, "How can this be better," and I work on it. This might be a way to get people to stay playing golf, when they might otherwise give it up. Golf is hard. For more than half of those who try it, it's too hard. They give up. This is way outside the box, but if you think that a without a driver, the game isn't the same, either. It's all golf. Once I can hit my driver, I'll be back on the tee box. Where the fun is one stroke more. Best wishes. Enjoy the process. Think outside the box.
    • I work at a Stations casino. Ours is a second tier house, not a break-in joint. And everything you said is true about 1999. After 2008, it is decidedly NOT true. Only the Wynn dealers have any chance of getting close to a hundred K a year. The vast majority are still making 30% less than 2006, or even less. We make $18 an hour in our casino. All of us. Even the lousy dealers. I've been doing this five years. I have been in Vegas for eleven. You have great insight, for someone who doesn't know. Today I begin forty hours a week, after working 24 hours a week for the last three years. It took THREE YEARS to gain full-time employment in my industry. I took home $25,852.65 last year. My wife does not have health insurance where she works. For the first time in several years, she'll see a doctor. Golf is expensive. Lessons are expensive. Disrespect is cheap. Esp here.
    • Good post. One slight correction is the split in his MP 29 & 14 was between the 4 and 5 iron rather than between the 3 and 4. An interesting side note...his Cobra driver was 43.625" and his 5 iron was 37.75" which used to be pretty standard at the time, but is short compared to most modern specs.
    • Here's the irons he's using.
  • TST Blog Entries

  • Blog Entries

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. BreakingBadly
      BreakingBadly
      (34 years old)
    2. dreamcrusher28
      dreamcrusher28
      (45 years old)
  • Get Great Gear with Amazon