I love playing golf. I’ll play every weekend, in the evenings after work (at least in the summer!), on my vacation days. You get the idea. What I don’t like is trying to book a tee time, especially at the busiest times of the week. So for that reason I thought maybe it would be worth joining a club so I get priority. I realized though that I knew next to nothing about how much it was or even how to do it. So I thought I’d write this post!
Bottom line, how much does it cost to join a golf club? Memberships are generally quoted on an annual basis and cost up to $7,200 per year for a private country club. There will often be a requirement to spend a certain amount per quarter on food and beverage (up to $1,500 per year) and there may be an initiation fee of up to $15,000 for the most exclusive clubs. There are many clubs which charge significantly higher amounts than this though.
So, you might be thinking “woah, there’s no way I can afford that” or even if you can then you might be wondering what you actually get for your money. Well, read on and I’ll dive deeper in the glitzy world of golf club memberships.
How Much Is A Typical Golf Membership?
For a start, most private golf courses in the United States are more like country clubs. They’ll often have multiple facilities other than golf which you can take advantage of. To get an idea of how much one of these tony clubs cost I did some research and checked out a club just for you guys! Here’s what it will cost you to get your foot in the door (and keep it there!)
First up, it should be noted there are various categories of membership. Lots of clubs off individual plans if you want to join by yourself or family plans to include your significant other and kids (provided they’re under a certain age and live with you). There are also different classes of membership which may only include partial access to the various facilities on offer. I’ll cover off as many examples as I can below!
Memberships are split into 4 different age ranges – full members are those aged 40 and over. Junoir members are aged 21-35. Transitional members are 35-39. There’s also a category for clergy but you’re unlikely to qualify for that!
Additionally, there are 4 different categories of membership available. They are:
- Full – which gives you access to all of the facilities at the club.
- Sports – access to all sporting facilities but only 12 rounds of golf per year
- House – access to the clubhouse and all dining and social facilities but no access to any sports
- National – for members who live outside of the immediate area (normally determined by number of miles from the club)
For regular memberships for Full members the initiation fee is $15,000. You have to pay this upfront and then there are additional monthly dues of $633. The initiation fee drops to $8,000 for Junior and Transitional members with monthly dues ranging from $315 to $515 depending on your age. For those Special members the initiation fee is only $1,000 with monthly dues of $342.
The monthly dues then drop for people only wanting a Sports membership, with initiation fees topping out at $3,500 and monthly dues at $421. This gets a bit cheaper for Junior and Transitional members.
Finally the cheapest membership is for House only members where initiation fees are positively a bargain at $1,500 and monthly dues only $221.
As you can see it’s not exactly cheap to join a full service golf and country club but the some of the other perks can absolutely be worth it. Check out what you get for your money in the next section.
What Does A Golf Membership Include?
A membership to a full service country club has lots of advantages. There are many facilities you can take advantage of to make those large membership dues worth it!
The reason most people join is to play golf. The country club I talked to had a championship standard golf course that measure just over 7,000 yards from the back tees. Practice facilities include a driving range, a putting green and a chipping green so you can dial in every aspect of your game before you set foot on the course! There’s a full time roster of PGA qualified pro’s who can give you lessons as well as a fully stocked pro shop filled with the latest equipment for you to try. They also handle club fitting, repair and re-gripping and will even replace the spikes in your golf shoes for you!
There are extensive tennis facilities at the club including recreational play all the way up to organised leagues and tournaments for members to take part in. To accomodate all this there are 12 hard courts which are all floodlit for night time play! Just like with gold there are full time tennis pros to take you through your paces and if you prefer to practice alone there are ball machines for rental.
The clubhouse is home to a number of formal and informal dining rooms that can host a variety of celebrations and special occasions. They are also where the majortiy of the clubs social activities happen. There is a minimum food and beverage spend of $150 a quarter and at least $800 a year for all members thoguh so that will need to be factored in to the calculations when deciding if you want to join!
There are extensive fitness facilities on site with a fully equipped gym to help you stay in top shape. There are also a number of personal trainer on hand should you require a bit of extra one on one attention.
Finally, there’s the pool area. In the summer there’s nothing better than heading down to your club on a lovely weekend and spending time hanging out around the pool with your buddies sipping a cold beer or a fruity cocktail (I’m not judging!)
What Is The Application Process For A Golf Club Membership?
This normally starts with the prosective member (you!) filling out an application form which is submitted to whoever is in charge of membership services. Most clubs will require two sponsors – these are other members of the club who are willing to vouch for you and say you will be a stand up club member.
The committee will then meet, normally once a month or once a quarter to consider new applications. Normally there will be a bit of a background check to make sure you’re the kind of person who will fit in well at the club. If you are then you shouldn’t have any problems with this part and you’ll be accepted as a new club member.
What Is The Most Expensive Golf Membership?
Ok, so first let me start by saying that a lot of golf clubs don’t publish their membership rates online. These were some of the most expensive ones I could find figures for after scouring various websites. I’ve limited myself to the USA but there may be others around the world that are even more pricey!
- The Bridge, Bridghampton, NY – Initiation fee of $1m (!) with annual dues currently unknown. Safe to say if you can afford a million dollar club membership you’re probably ok with the monthly fees. Membership is limited to about 150 people.
- East Hampton Golf Club,East Hampton, NY – Initiation fee of $400,000 with annual dues unknown. Members must have a net worth of $1m or more (which cannot include their home) or earn an annual salary of $200,000 or more. Yes, that means you have to produce you pay slip to get in!
- Liberty National, Jersey City, NJ – ok, what to say about Liberty. It’s initiation fee is $500,000 with annual dues of $29,000. Not too bad compared to the above two right? Well, this course looks out over the Hudson towards Manhattan so you can imagine it’s pretty exclusive. It cost $250m to build (making it the most expensive golf course ever constructed) and has a helipad, naturally, a marina and a boat that can hold 200 of it’s favorite members!
- Augusta National, Augusta, GA – home of the US Masters, of course this was going to be on the list. It’s actually not that bad (relatively speaking). It will cost you up to $500,000 in initiation fees but then only $10,000 per year. The difficulty will be getting membersip. Almost no amount of money can buy you entry, guests are not allowed. However, every US President wince WW2 has played here and honory membership is given to the winner of the US Masters each year. I’ll let you decide if it’s easier to become President or win the tournament!
What About St Andrews?
Ahh yes, the home of golf. Surely that must be on the list right? With a really long and very exclusive wait list? Well…not really no. St Andrews is actually a public course meaning anyone can simply call up and book a round….kind of. As you might imagine it’s incredibly popular so rounds often book up months and years in advance. There are ways to play it though and I’ll write a future article all about those…