July 29th, 2023

Joining a Golf Club - A Brief Guide with Practical Advice

There is a plethora of benefits of joining a golf club, including being able to enter competitions, inclusion in special events, getting a handicap, reciprocal rights to play at other sister clubs at a lower rate or even without charge, and having access to unlimited golf. However, the process of becoming a member can seem very challenging and daunting, even if you've been playing for years. For this reason, we have gathered some helpful tips on how to simplify the process of joining a golf club.

Do Your Research Thoroughly

If you plan to play golf on a regular basis, you may want to join a club that is not very far away from where you live. Still, if you've been mesmerized by a golf club in another state and have the time and financial resources to travel there often, you shouldn't hesitate to try to obtain a membership at that particular golf club.

Regardless of the distance between your residence and the golf club, you should do your research and learn as much as you can about the club you're seeking to join, as each golf club caters to a different type of clientele. To obtain as much information as possible about the club of your choice, you can:

  • Visit the website of the golf club
  • Read the reviews of members
  • Ask a member about it if you know one
  • Book some tee time there

Look Up What Type of Memberships the Golf Club Offers

Choosing the right membership will prevent you from spending too much, as you may not afford or need the standard membership the golf club offers. There are numerous other types of memberships, such as:

  • Country membership: a lot of golf clubs offer significantly discounted memberships to players living outside of a certain radius from the club, so if you pick a destination you visit annually, near a popular holiday spot, you can opt for this kind of membership
  • Flexible membership: tailored to suit individual requirements, flexible golf club memberships entail you paying a reduced subscription and then paying a fee to play, which is usually per round, and this type of membership is perfect for those who wish to become a golf club member but cannot commit to playing regularly
  • Youth membership: at most golf clubs, young adults can benefit from a discounted rate, which is a transitional rate between the junior and the full, ordinary subscription, and they will usually offer lower rates for those up to the age of 30 or even 35
  • Academy membership: for beginner players, a starter or academy membership is ideal, as it usually includes a lower rate with lessons taught by a professional player and a limited number of free rounds on the course
  • Social membership: for those who would like to see how being part of a particular golf club is, a social membership may be the answer since it allows you to try a year as a social or associate member, giving you the use of the club and the chance to participate in social functions, but no golfing rights

Connect with a Member

If you're fully committed to joining a golf club and enjoy all the benefits it offers, you will need a referral from a current member before you're allowed to apply. Therefore, you will need to befriend someone who's already a member of the golf club of your choice. Sometimes, a member may approach you and invite you to join the club they belong to. While this is the easiest way to get into the golf club, it's not guaranteed it will happen, so you will have to put some effort into the process.

But what if you don't know any members personally? In this case, you can ask a friend who might know one to put you in touch with them, and, hopefully, they will be open to the idea of referring you to the golf club after they get to know you. If this doesn't work either, you can inquire with the golf club, and the leadership may be willing to introduce you to a current member who might serve as your sponsor. They will teach you all you need to know about being a member, as well as the rules and perks of it.

Learn About the Fees

Golf club fees vary greatly, but one thing is for sure – it's quite expensive to become a member, with the initiation fee ranging between a few thousand dollars to $1 million. According to a study of private clubs led by Golf Digest, only 30% of the responding golf clubs had a price for initiation of $7,500 or less.

It is worthy of note that some golf clubs distinguish between equity and non-equity memberships, so those with equity in the club will have to pay a higher initiation fee. The equity membership structure is one in which the member owns a portion of the golf club along with other members, whereas the non-equity membership structure refers to people willing to become members of the club who do not own a part of it.

In addition to the initiation fee, there are other fees you need to consider if you wish to become a member, such as:

  • Annual fees: members must pay a yearly fee to keep their membership, and some clubs charge this in monthly installments, the average cost of this fee being $520
  • Food and drink fees: some golf clubs require members to spend a certain amount of money at their restaurants, snack counters, or bars each month or year, which usually costs members between $50 and $100
  • Assessment: these are special fees that are over and above the normal dues, which help fund large expenses or projects, and they range between $100 and $200

The Takeaway

In conclusion, joining a golf club is not only challenging and difficult if you don't have any friends who are members, but it's also quite expensive. Nevertheless, the main question you should ask yourself is, "Is it worth it?". If the answer is yes, then we encourage you to do all in your power to become a member and enjoy all the benefits and amenities the club has to offer!