Thinking about joining a private club....pros and cons

13

Comments

  • davep043davep043 Members Posts: 3,420 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @az2au said:

    @Bluefan75 said:

    @d_macl said:
    " I have never understood joining a club if you do not want to join in with the club membership."
    Did a trial membership (6 mos) at a local club. Glad I only did a trial, as I learned about what would be a better fit. Was looking forward to meeting some golfing folks and a little friendly competition. Instead, all of the member tournaments/events required you to have a handicap. This required 20 x 18 hole rounds. My membership ended before I had established a handicap. I never ended up playing with any other members. Was never invited to play (maybe don't include people without handicaps in the results, or something?) ; was not what I expected at all. Was fun at times but overall an awkward isolating experience.
    Costs were about 500 bucks a month. I like to walk, but figured out that I didn't like walking that course, as the 9th hole was a couple miles from the clubhouse. Wasn't really designed for walkers, and realized that was important after carrying clubs a couple miles back to the car after 9. Fees were interesting, I guess typical. Cart fee was 30$ per person, so when I took my son we had to pay $60 for the cart. Never understood why you didn't pay for one cart. It'd be like renting a car, then having your passenger pay to rent the same one LOL. Standard in the golf industry I guess?
    I'll keep looking for a club that doesn't frown upon walking; a bonus would be allowing you to wear a hat in the clubhouse:)

    I find the handicap thing a bit odd. Don't you start to get a cap once you hit 5 scores? And then as more get added they start to take more? This doesn't make sense.
    Lots of other reasons it sounds like you dodged a bullet, but I think there was a miscommunication somewhere.

    You can also use rounds already played to populate it.

    Both are absolutely correct, you receive an official USGA Handicap after posting 5 18-hole scores (or an equivalent combination of 9-holers), and you can enter any rounds played before you initiate your handicap. But I've seen a few places that have more stringent handicap requirements for in-house competitions, including a minimum number of rounds posted within a certain time frame. Even so, to require 20 rounds after joining a club seems pretty excessive.

  • OK_GolfOK_Golf Members Posts: 614 ✭✭✭✭✭

    All,
    Love these threads! I've been in a constant state of "should I" or "shouldn't I" on the private club question for about five years and have yet to pull the trigger. Fast forward to this year, I recently turned 40 and realize I'm not getting any younger and I had rotator cuff surgery in April and really see how much I miss playing golf right now!

    So would those who have made the choice in the past help me make a decision:
    Club #1. Most conveniently located club (10 minutes from house, 20 minutes from work, close enough that I could stop there on the way other places); lower cost; decent but not great golf course; (very) weak non-golf amenities (club house / restaurant; locker room) ... club is having some issues; might close in the next year and allows limited outside play
    Club #2. Great golf course (design and conditions) probably 3rd or 4th best course in the city; not that conveniently located (15 minutes from home ... not bad; but ~35 minutes from work and not really close to anything else I do around town); probably 20 to 25% more expensive than Club #1; nice practice area with indoor practice facility for winter; GREAT clubhouse and locker room (but not really anything else non-golf related)

    I am 100% certain I would use Club #1 more frequently (including just to practice), but I've got a pretty strong feeling I would enjoy club #2 more when I'm there. Also, club #2 used to be very exclusive (and much more expensive to join) say ~20 years ago so I have this sort of "Wow, I can't believe I can join this place" going on with #2.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks WRXers.

    WITB
    Driver: Ping G20, 8.5*, stock tour Stiff
    3 wood: TaylorMade SLDR TP, stock TP stiff, 15*,
    Hybrids: Callaway XR Pro stock pro stiff 18* & 23*
    Irons: Callaway Apex (2014) 5-AW, KBS Tour-V 110 S
    Wedges: Mizuno MP-T 56*; Callaway X Series Jaws 60*
    Putter: Scotty Cameron Select Fastback
  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @OK_Golf said:
    All,
    Love these threads! I've been in a constant state of "should I" or "shouldn't I" on the private club question for about five years and have yet to pull the trigger. Fast forward to this year, I recently turned 40 and realize I'm not getting any younger and I had rotator cuff surgery in April and really see how much I miss playing golf right now!

    So would those who have made the choice in the past help me make a decision:
    Club #1. Most conveniently located club (10 minutes from house, 20 minutes from work, close enough that I could stop there on the way other places); lower cost; decent but not great golf course; (very) weak non-golf amenities (club house / restaurant; locker room) ... club is having some issues; might close in the next year and allows limited outside play
    Club #2. Great golf course (design and conditions) probably 3rd or 4th best course in the city; not that conveniently located (15 minutes from home ... not bad; but ~35 minutes from work and not really close to anything else I do around town); probably 20 to 25% more expensive than Club #1; nice practice area with indoor practice facility for winter; GREAT clubhouse and locker room (but not really anything else non-golf related)

    I am 100% certain I would use Club #1 more frequently (including just to practice), but I've got a pretty strong feeling I would enjoy club #2 more when I'm there. Also, club #2 used to be very exclusive (and much more expensive to join) say ~20 years ago so I have this sort of "Wow, I can't believe I can join this place" going on with #2.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks

    2 and I really don’t think it is a tough choice. Everything you wrote other than accessibility was a clear lean to 2.

  • caniac6caniac6 Members Posts: 2,892 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @OK_Golf said:
    All,
    Love these threads! I've been in a constant state of "should I" or "shouldn't I" on the private club question for about five years and have yet to pull the trigger. Fast forward to this year, I recently turned 40 and realize I'm not getting any younger and I had rotator cuff surgery in April and really see how much I miss playing golf right now!

    So would those who have made the choice in the past help me make a decision:
    Club #1. Most conveniently located club (10 minutes from house, 20 minutes from work, close enough that I could stop there on the way other places); lower cost; decent but not great golf course; (very) weak non-golf amenities (club house / restaurant; locker room) ... club is having some issues; might close in the next year and allows limited outside play
    Club #2. Great golf course (design and conditions) probably 3rd or 4th best course in the city; not that conveniently located (15 minutes from home ... not bad; but ~35 minutes from work and not really close to anything else I do around town); probably 20 to 25% more expensive than Club #1; nice practice area with indoor practice facility for winter; GREAT clubhouse and locker room (but not really anything else non-golf related)

    I am 100% certain I would use Club #1 more frequently (including just to practice), but I've got a pretty strong feeling I would enjoy club #2 more when I'm there. Also, club #2 used to be very exclusive (and much more expensive to join) say ~20 years ago so I have this sort of "Wow, I can't believe I can join this place" going on with #2.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks WRXers.

    2. Stay away from a club with issues.

  • DancinDancin Members Posts: 290 ✭✭✭✭

    @OK_Golf said:
    All,
    Love these threads! I've been in a constant state of "should I" or "shouldn't I" on the private club question for about five years and have yet to pull the trigger. Fast forward to this year, I recently turned 40 and realize I'm not getting any younger and I had rotator cuff surgery in April and really see how much I miss playing golf right now!

    So would those who have made the choice in the past help me make a decision:
    Club #1. Most conveniently located club (10 minutes from house, 20 minutes from work, close enough that I could stop there on the way other places); lower cost; decent but not great golf course; (very) weak non-golf amenities (club house / restaurant; locker room) ... club is having some issues; might close in the next year and allows limited outside play
    Club #2. Great golf course (design and conditions) probably 3rd or 4th best course in the city; not that conveniently located (15 minutes from home ... not bad; but ~35 minutes from work and not really close to anything else I do around town); probably 20 to 25% more expensive than Club #1; nice practice area with indoor practice facility for winter; GREAT clubhouse and locker room (but not really anything else non-golf related)

    I am 100% certain I would use Club #1 more frequently (including just to practice), but I've got a pretty strong feeling I would enjoy club #2 more when I'm there. Also, club #2 used to be very exclusive (and much more expensive to join) say ~20 years ago so I have this sort of "Wow, I can't believe I can join this place" going on with #2.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks WRXers.

    Yep 2 with the amount of information you provided. If you're asking the question then the money must be a concern to you because it shouldn't even be a question given what you listed. 20 vs 35 minutes from work doesn't seem like it should be an issue. Neither is close enough to fit anything meaningful in during lunch hour and neither is too far away to preclude doing something before or after work. If 1 is really having issues then they will probably be open to letting you join as a trial member with no initiation, so assuming 2 will still be available in a year it wouldn't hurt to see what 1 is like. Just make sure you closely read any contract they have you sign.

    The warning signs are all there though. Limited outside play now with club issues and a so so course is going to increase more and more as the owners try to do anything to survive. Watch for the ads in local golf magazines - Come play an exclusive private course! (that's desperate for your money because we can't get anyone to join up). You're joining a private course for certain benefits. Make sure the one you pick is going to be able to meet your expectations. Don't pay an initiation fee for a course in financial trouble. Unless it's a brand new course where the first owners took on too much debt, any course not thriving now is only going to get worse.

    The boom in golf is over. It's back to what it always was with a certain percentage of the population interested, but with a lot more course owners competing for that pie.

  • vinprun71vinprun71 ConnecticutMembers Posts: 103 ✭✭✭

    Number two like the others have said. Financial issues are concerning. I also enjoy quality food and drink options after a round on the weekends, so that would weigh into my personal decision if it were me.

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  • OK_GolfOK_Golf Members Posts: 614 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks all for the feedback ... I guess it was too obvious that I wanted to join #2, huh? :smile:
    To give a little additional info:
    Club #1 has no initiation fee, but does require a one-year commitment. Almost two years ago the club was bought by a real estate developer who announced plans to close the course and turn it into a residential/commercial development. Two years hence the club still operates and the owner has made statements like "as long as the the club makes money we aren't in a hurry to stop operations." Rumor is he is having trouble with permits/approvals for the planned development for some reason. The one-year commitment is void if they close the club (maybe that was obvious).
    Club #2 is currently running a special that gives 50% of the "normal" initiation fee and $100 monthly credit on dues for ~1 year. They ran a similar special last year, but it was a 70% discount on the initiation fee and two years of the $100 credit. I put "normal" initiation fee in quotes, because its hard to tell what the market will really bare for their initiation ... apparently it ain't what they call "normal".

    So the advice to look at club #1 on a 'trial' basis and go to club #2 if I don't like it, is not a bad idea, but I would hate to spend a year club #1, end up not liking it (or maybe worse end up liking it and it closes for the real estate development) and in the mean time have the 'special' that club #2 is running be gone when I come back to them.
    I feel like the only real downside to Club #2 is I don't think I'll go out there very often just to practice (maybe in the winter due to the indoor facility) and I probably won't go out there as much for the proverbial "4 or 5 holes after work" because it adds ~30 minutes to the drive home (35 minutes out to the club from work, then 15-20 minutes back home is almost an hour of driving) whereas club #1 is on the way home from work and closer into town making it easier to stop off at.

    I'm sort of an "analysis paralysis" type of guy so all this discussion is great!

    WITB
    Driver: Ping G20, 8.5*, stock tour Stiff
    3 wood: TaylorMade SLDR TP, stock TP stiff, 15*,
    Hybrids: Callaway XR Pro stock pro stiff 18* & 23*
    Irons: Callaway Apex (2014) 5-AW, KBS Tour-V 110 S
    Wedges: Mizuno MP-T 56*; Callaway X Series Jaws 60*
    Putter: Scotty Cameron Select Fastback
  • caniac6caniac6 Members Posts: 2,892 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @caniac6 said:

    @OK_Golf said:
    All,
    Love these threads! I've been in a constant state of "should I" or "shouldn't I" on the private club question for about five years and have yet to pull the trigger. Fast forward to this year, I recently turned 40 and realize I'm not getting any younger and I had rotator cuff surgery in April and really see how much I miss playing golf right now!

    So would those who have made the choice in the past help me make a decision:
    Club #1. Most conveniently located club (10 minutes from house, 20 minutes from work, close enough that I could stop there on the way other places); lower cost; decent but not great golf course; (very) weak non-golf amenities (club house / restaurant; locker room) ... club is having some issues; might close in the next year and allows limited outside play
    Club #2. Great golf course (design and conditions) probably 3rd or 4th best course in the city; not that conveniently located (15 minutes from home ... not bad; but ~35 minutes from work and not really close to anything else I do around town); probably 20 to 25% more expensive than Club #1; nice practice area with indoor practice facility for winter; GREAT clubhouse and locker room (but not really anything else non-golf related)

    I am 100% certain I would use Club #1 more frequently (including just to practice), but I've got a pretty strong feeling I would enjoy club #2 more when I'm there. Also, club #2 used to be very exclusive (and much more expensive to join) say ~20 years ago so I have this sort of "Wow, I can't believe I can join this place" going on with #2.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks WRXers.

    2. Stay away from a club with issues.

    I have no idea why the post came out with such bold print. I didn't intend to look like that.

  • DonatelloNobodieDonatelloNobodie Members Posts: 166 ✭✭✭
    edited Aug 16, 2019 5:20pm #70

    Consider the initiation fees. That's money gone, regardless of how long you're a member. They've got your money, so you need to accept whatever comes along - assessments, bad conditions, dues increases, stupid rules, etc. Only choice is to walk away. Change of ownership and bankruptcy can see your initiation fee and membership simply go away. Same if you relocate. Even "refundable" initiation fees have fine print that prevent refunds, like needing a new member to replace you. Google for membership lawsuits.

    Post edited by DonatelloNobodie on
  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I still don't understand the purpose of initiation fees, it's nothing but a money grab. If the course needs more money to run they should raise dues. It's an extremely inefficient solution from a revenue standpoint and the vast fluctuations of initiations over time show that.

    How would you feel if you paid multiple thousands to tens of thousands at some places to buy in, and then in future they significantly lower the initiation? Did it magically get cheaper to maintain the course? Probably not. Or vice versa if the club gets busy so they raise initiation does that make sense? It's just a money grab and a sunk cost to try to convince people to stay.

    Situations with equity are exception and a little different.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @pinhigh27 said:
    I still don't understand the purpose of initiation fees, it's nothing but a money grab. If the course needs more money to run they should raise dues. It's an extremely inefficient solution from a revenue standpoint and the vast fluctuations of initiations over time show that.

    How would you feel if you paid multiple thousands to tens of thousands at some places to buy in, and then in future they significantly lower the initiation? Did it magically get cheaper to maintain the course? Probably not. Or vice versa if the club gets busy so they raise initiation does that make sense? It's just a money grab and a sunk cost to try to convince people to stay.

    Situations with equity are exception and a little different.

    In general... Operating expenses are covered by dues. Assessments and initiation fees cover capital improvements.

    And to answer your question on how would I feel if I paid a bunch and then it got lowered, I’ve been in that situation and honestly never thought once about it because I knew how it worked when I joined. I’ve also been on the other side of the equation as well. This isn’t hidden from people. It also makes perfect sense to me as the market will always dictate what clubs can charge. I just don’t get why this is a big deal. You make a decision based on available information. That will likely change in some way over time. I’m not going to spend time looking back and every decision and worrying about some theoretical loss when I have been able to enjoy using the gain for whatever time.

    I get why you don’t want to pay an initiation fee. That’s a decision that you make but they do make sense and do defer capex that would otherwise turn into assessments. You may or may not agree with that capital expenditure but they are going to happen.

  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 10,965 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    If the club is fully subscribed and has a waiting list (like many were back in the go-go 90's) then it's perfectly sensible. Might as well get as much money up front from new members as possible.

    It gets trickier when the club is short on members. Yeah, it's great to get a few thousand right up front for the new members who are willing to pay it. But surely it leads to some people not joining at all, which costs in the long run. It's a balancing act.

    One thing that's different today versus a couple generations ago is the much smaller likelihood of a 25-35 year old actually knowing they'll being around the same area for a decade or more. it's just crazy (IMO) to splash out 5K, 10K or more nonrefundable if you might be taking a job halfway across the country three years from now.

    “1lb beefstak, with
    1pt bitter beer
    every 6 hours.
    1 ten-mile walk every morning.
    1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
    And don't stuff your head with things you don't understand.” 
  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    So if initiations are for covering capital expenses, why are initiations so dynamic? That's illogical. Do they only decide to improve things when the market is hot? That would also seem illogical and if anything the opposite is probably true.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    If you want to make capital improvements it should be via assessments, ie members paying for it. Or you could do it via dues, money is fungible and doesn't really matter. But I have no idea how depending on a fluctuating thing which changes often year to year in price and quantity, ie is dependent on people joining or not makes sense. It's stupid and it's inefficient.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • LeftDaddyLeftDaddy Members Posts: 772 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 19, 2019 5:51pm #76

    I joined a nicer but further away club recently (and left the less nice but close club to do it). I haven’t regretted it so far. It’s a good bit more expensive, but the golf is much higher quality. I go out there every bit as much as I did before, though it does add about 40 minutes to my golf day.

    But it’s worth it.

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    Callaway 2013 X-forged (3-5), Project X PXI 6.0
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  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @pinhigh27 said:
    If you want to make capital improvements it should be via assessments, ie members paying for it. Or you could do it via dues, money is fungible and doesn't really matter. But I have no idea how depending on a fluctuating thing which changes often year to year in price and quantity, ie is dependent on people joining or not makes sense. It's stupid and it's inefficient.

    I’ve never belonged to a club where there is this major fluctuation you talk about. I know it happens but of the clubs I currently belong to this isn’t the case. The one I have belonged to the longest has gone up twice in the last 12 years. Once by 12.5% and once by 11%.

    And you can keep telling me how stupid it is but I’m telling you that dues cover opex and initiation fees and assessments cover capex (or opex shortfalls) as a general rule. And, yes, the weighting on that could shift based a shift in initiation fees.

    And while that might bother you as I noted, it doesn’t bother me even a little bit.

  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't care what the general rule is, my whole point is the general rule is stupid. Saying that's the rule doesn't mean anything.

    If you ran a restaurant and you wanted to upgrade your restaurant and you needed money to do that, what would you do? You would either try to do more business or charge more. You would probably charge all customers more, not just new customers, so I have no idea why new members are responsibly for cap ex via initiations. Again, illogical and not seen in other industries with significant capital outlay.

    Sometimes in service industries like a golf lesson people get to retain the old rate and then new costs are passed onto new people but I don't see any similarities with running a golf course.

    Majority of clubs have fluctuations in initiation, some literally from thousands down to zero. Maybe yours in an exception but certainly not the norm. I highly doubt over 12 years the initiation has never been reduced. Going up is only one half of fluctuation.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • DonatelloNobodieDonatelloNobodie Members Posts: 166 ✭✭✭

    @pinhigh27 said:
    I don't care what the general rule is, my whole point is the general rule is stupid. Saying that's the rule doesn't mean anything.

    If you ran a restaurant and you wanted to upgrade your restaurant and you needed money to do that, what would you do? You would either try to do more business or charge more. You would probably charge all customers more, not just new customers, so I have no idea why new members are responsibly for cap ex via initiations. Again, illogical and not seen in other industries with significant capital outlay.

    Sometimes in service industries like a golf lesson people get to retain the old rate and then new costs are passed onto new people but I don't see any similarities with running a golf course.

    Majority of clubs have fluctuations in initiation, some literally from thousands down to zero. Maybe yours in an exception but certainly not the norm. I highly doubt over 12 years the initiation has never been reduced. Going up is only one half of fluctuation.

    Initiation fees are not intended to raise capital. They are to get members to have a long term stake in the club and discourage short term memberships. Without initiation fees, there would be a tendency for players to jump in and out of the membership roll. Many clubs feel that they'd rather have a more stable membership roll of long time members, rather that having members come and go on a yearly basis. There are arguments both for and against that position. Clubs that are full can get away with having initiation fees. Those in need of members (becoming much more common today) will sometimes lower or eliminate initiation fees, often upsetting current members, who paid the fee. A tough decision for club management.

  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @pinhigh27 said:
    I don't care what the general rule is, my whole point is the general rule is stupid. Saying that's the rule doesn't mean anything.

    If you ran a restaurant and you wanted to upgrade your restaurant and you needed money to do that, what would you do? You would either try to do more business or charge more. You would probably charge all customers more, not just new customers, so I have no idea why new members are responsibly for cap ex via initiations. Again, illogical and not seen in other industries with significant capital outlay.

    Sometimes in service industries like a golf lesson people get to retain the old rate and then new costs are passed onto new people but I don't see any similarities with running a golf course.

    Majority of clubs have fluctuations in initiation, some literally from thousands down to zero. Maybe yours in an exception but certainly not the norm. I highly doubt over 12 years the initiation has never been reduced. Going up is only one half of fluctuation.

    You highly doubt what now? My factual statement or your ability to understand the difference in your opinion vs what other people are fine with?

    Your angry ranting or chip on your shoulder or whatever is fine but when it leads to calling someone a liar based on no evidence you might want to scale it back a bit. I told you that I had been on both sides and I’m telling you this club has only gone up in 12 years. I’m also telling you how successful and completely full with a waiting list clubs do business.

    I’d also tell you that I once joined a club with a $0 initiation fee (lived in the neighborhood) and it is the only one I’ve ever regretted joining.

  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    OK then like I said it's probably an exception. I've seen vast fluctuations of literally thousands of dollars in multiple states I've lived in, during last 5 years.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • Schley Schley Love ya don't tell ya enough! Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaMembers Posts: 1,219 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Initiation fees are not new and have been around since private clubs in the US probably since the post WWII era. There are two purposes as others have noted and I will back those up here. 1. They are for capex, but also that is invested until utilized and the club gets a return on that investment so provides a small amount of appreciation. It isn't like the moment you write a check, the next month new carpet in the locker room appears. 2. It separates equity members from lesser members as member owned clubs, which gives equity members voting rights on club issues (rules, assessments, etc.). Initiations are refundable at some clubs and not at others. At those that do refund many times not given until another member joins to replace your initiation fee.

    Private clubs need money for capital improvements and one of my clubs itemizes it out of the dues (dues=$835, capex=$100) as an example. This money is set aside for capital improvements and I think a good philosophy as opposed to assessing members every 3-5 years for whatever. It is the board to decide which capex items to push for a vote to utilize that fund.

    For those that don't like initiation fees, then don't join. However, it is the cost of entry and no way those are going away anytime soon.

  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    You know, I was thinking about this a bit and I think one of the problems in understanding may be different "tiers" of clubs. If initiation is only $5K then I'm sure that it is not as big of a factor in CapEx as I was talking about. I don't want to get into a money discussion here because it isn't appropriate and it serves no one but the places I'm talking about using it for CapEx are many times that number.

    I'm going to give you an example of a club where I have the known facts and figures as it was sent to my email just this morning. The initiation fees collected for full golf members for the last fiscal year were $770,000 (hint, they didn't add 154 new members). That doesn't include junior golf, executive golf and social which are significantly cheaper but still more than way more than $5K. This club is full and has a waiting list for golf members (they'll take as many social as want to join I think). The members are being assessed for a large project but it is a very small amount of money. The reason for that is the initiation fees. I'm pretty sure every single member is happy that initiation fees are being used to cover a large part of the project.

    Note: This is not a club in my avatar and I'm not going to share which one it is so you'll just have to believe me or not. It is, however, a factual representation of a real club.

  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    It just sounds to me like it's basically putting costs of improving club onto new members. I'm not sure why that is their burden to bear. I guess you could say it's a reward for loyalty?

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • Bluefan75Bluefan75 Members Posts: 3,998 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @pinhigh27 said:
    It just sounds to me like it's basically putting costs of improving club onto new members. I'm not sure why that is their burden to bear. I guess you could say it's a reward for loyalty?

    And what about when the current members joined? Did they not pay initiation? Were no improvements made then? Heck, everyone is getting a free ride from those who put in money to open the club in the first place.

    Myopia can be a terrible thing.

  • Luando85Luando85 Asheville, NCMembers Posts: 18 ✭✭

    I would pay anything and drive any where (within reason) for faster rounds and less crowds.

  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 10,965 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't know why the people who run country clubs are so obsessed with having different "pots" of money they pretend are somehow not just dollars in the club's bank account.

    Clubs don't charge $30,000 initiation fees to fund capital improvements. They charge $30,000 initiation fees because potential new members are willing to hand over $30,000 for the privilege of joining. It's really that simple.

    My club has all sorts of capital expenditure needs pending. But we're not in an area where anyone is going to pay half that much or even a quarter that much to join one of the dozen or so clubs all competing for a very limited pool of potential members. So we charge our couple dozen incoming members each year $3K or $5K or whatever the current number is and we're glad to get it.

    We don't charge less because our capital needs are less, we charge as much as the market will bear. Same as any club.

    “1lb beefstak, with
    1pt bitter beer
    every 6 hours.
    1 ten-mile walk every morning.
    1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
    And don't stuff your head with things you don't understand.” 
  • Bonneville85308Bonneville85308 Members Posts: 1,729 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 20, 2019 2:32pm #88

    @Luando85 said:
    I would pay anything and drive any where (within reason) for faster rounds and less crowds.

    I once joined a club that was a 50-55 minute drive each way from home. I could play a weekend afternoon round there in 2.5 hours or less. Not only did that club have a high percentage of the membership that probably played less than a dozen round per year, literally nobody teed off after 11am or so. Not to mention the dues were half of the clubs closer to home, and the course was a better design. I found it hilarious that even with the round-trip drive time, a round of golf there took far less total time than playing a round at the public course 5 minutes from home, where playing in less than 4.5 hours on a weekend afternoon was impossible, and less than 5 hours was a 50/50 chance. I don't think I would have joined a club 50 minutes from home at that time unless I knew I could fly around on the course. For some reason I found driving time to be more enjoyable than sitting on every teebox waiting.

  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @Bluefan75 said:

    @pinhigh27 said:
    It just sounds to me like it's basically putting costs of improving club onto new members. I'm not sure why that is their burden to bear. I guess you could say it's a reward for loyalty?

    And what about when the current members joined? Did they not pay initiation? Were no improvements made then? Heck, everyone is getting a free ride from those who put in money to open the club in the first place.

    Myopia can be a terrible thing.

    Right but then they're done. If you theoretically stay somewhere for 30 years you pay just as much for improvements as the guy who stays for 5, assuming initiation stays the same. I'm saying thats illogical.

    Not sure how thats myopic.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • pinhigh27pinhigh27 Members Posts: 9,707 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    The whole point is if you claim it's for improvements then it shouldn't be dynamic. But most of them are dynamic because they're simply charging what the market will bear.

    It's kinda weird nobody has given a solid answer, just the equivalent of " that's the way it is."

    Well so is everything else, until it changes.

    How to be in better shape for golf?
    Become a better athlete.
    Don't worry about golf specific.
    Compound lifts w/ linear progress
    Don't forget the mobility work.
    More results, more functional

    Spin is not your enemy, everything is a trade-off.
    17 * 1700 goes really far, but doesn't go very straight or consistent
    8* 3500 goes really straight, but doesn't go very far
    Answer for most is somewhere in the middle.
    Pga tour driver avg launch conditions: 11* 2700
  • GolfnuckGolfnuck Members Posts: 614 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 20, 2019 4:53pm #91

    Based on actual facts for my club everything az2au has written is correct.

    At our club we have a separate entity that holds the initiation fees and it is from that entity that we pay for all capital costs. A separate budget is prepared annually and approved by the membership. We are not an equity club so initiation fees are not refundable.

    The operating entity receives all the members dues and various fees (food minimums, locker fees etc) as of now we do not have any capital assessments nor can management made any payments of a capital nature from the operating funds. An annual operating budget is prepared annually and approved by the membership.

    Our club is able to maintain this structure because we have a very healthy waitlist and have always had good sized waitlists (over 90 members in all categories combined).

    In the past 7 or 8 years we have seen an average inflow from our initiation fees in excess of $1,000,000 annually.

    IMHO the reason that we put all initiation fees towards capex is because it is the way new members "monetize" the capital costs that have been paid for by current and prior members.

    Of course those that say having to pay a non refundable initiation fee ensures retention of members is also true.

    Due to the size of our waitlist our club now risks have a massive slow down in new members and consequently new initiation fees so we face the prospects of:
    1. Reducing our annual capex budget. This impacts ability to attract future members.
    2. Borrow from the bank and pay interest from the operating entity and principal pay down from capital entity. This impacts ability to attract future members as they have to pay down the loan.
    3. Initiate a "capital" charge as an addition to the members monthly dues. This impacts current members as they are now having to fund capex in addition to what they have paid in initiation fees.

    Or a combination of all 3.

    IMHO clubs that have minimal or zero initiation fees are including a capital charge within their monthly membership dues. There is no free lunch.

    Which is the best method ......... who knows.

    pinhigh27 - are you a member of a private club?

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