Bay Area Private Clubs

 WestCoastHacker ·  
WestCoastHackerWestCoastHacker  176WRX Points: 80Members Posts: 176 Fairways
Joined:  in California #1
A few questions for those of you familiar with the private club scene in the Bay Area. I have heard that San Francisco Golf Club is notoriously hard to join - wondering if it is the same for Olympic and the Cal Club? Do you really have to be well connected in the city to get an invite to join or can you have a membership application nominated by the membership committee? Do any clubs in the area do national memberships?



Thanks in advance.
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  • ebrasmus21ebrasmus21 Serial Shanker CA 6026WRX Points: 1,702Handicap: 2.7Members Posts: 6,026 Titanium Tees
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    Steph, we know you're out there. We know you're a WRX'er. Give us the details on Cal Club.
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  • golfdummygolfdummy  153WRX Points: 74Members Posts: 153 Fairways
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    Some of the clubs in the Bay area are notoriously difficult to join. Of the three you mentioned, Cal club will most likely be the most attainable. You could possibly join Olympic as a downtown member but there is a fairly substantial waiting list to be a full member. San Francisco golf club will be a very difficult one. They have a very limited membership and it is basically an invite only club. You obviously are going to have a better chance at any of these if you already know a member or hooefully members.
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  • timmy8151timmy8151  1111WRX Points: 130Handicap: 15.2Members Posts: 1,111 Platinum Tees
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    SFGC is so exclusive they rejected Scott McNearly's (founder of Sun Microsystems) application. As noted above best shot into Olympic is the downtown club.



    Some other clubs which I've heard are easier to join (assuming you want to pony up the initiation) are Lake Merced in Daly City and Green Hills in Millbrae. Also heard that Mira Vista in Richmond.



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  • raynorfan1raynorfan1  3825WRX Points: 347Members Posts: 3,825 Titanium Tees
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    SFGC is probably one of the 5 hardest clubs to get into in the country (among courses that actually have active memberships). It might be #1.



    Olympic is one of the easier clubs to get into, if you're patient and play the long game. They offer a national membership that's a pretty good option if you live outside of the area.



    Cal Club is somewhere between the two.
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  • Jordan SpeethJordan Speeth  1091WRX Points: 88ClubWRX Posts: 1,091 ClubWRX
    Joined:  edited Aug 24, 2017 #6
    Olympic requires five member "sponsors" and "seconders" to propose a new member and after a few years' wait, the Board reviews the application and votes the new member in or not. The only distinction between "downtown" or "golf" membership is when an active member decides that he wants to play golf several times a week and have the privilege of bringing guests, he can fork over a check for $50K to get on the waiting list for the golfing privilege, which only means that they don't pay greens fees like active members do. The golf privilege also has additional monthly dues and tee time priority. It is the finest golf and athletic club in the world IMO and the best part about it is that it's an athletic fraternity more than anything else....nothing snobby about it. In fact, it's about the most blue collar "country club" you'll ever come across.



    SFGC, which is a few blocks away from Olympic, is very tough to get in and it's more like you have to be "born" into it. If you're not from a society family, it's going to be pretty tough. But there's one club that's even harder to join than all of them and most of its members also belong to Cypress Point. That's Burlingame Country Club in Hillsborough.



    Most of the other good ones have been mentioned. There are lots of options and lots of great golf courses in the Bay Area. I'd stick to the ones with modern irrigation and drainage because many of the older courses are tough to play in the winter months. After all, that's why we live in the Bay Area....to play golf year round, right?
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  • Jack PearsallJack Pearsall  3479WRX Points: 264Members Posts: 3,479 Titanium Tees
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    Tried to play SF club forever and no way so far. Thought Jack might get on with a big rock booker but that flamed out, no room in the Rock Star Foursome for JP. Membership? If you have to ask, you aren’t getting in...Heard that the number of rounds played there is tiny! SF Golf club and Augusta are about equally hard to get on....Augusta might be easier....membership? Haha haha.....

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  • gravel42gravel42  41WRX Points: 58Members Posts: 41 Bunkers
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    A friend of mine in the industry got me on SFGC on a Monday (no play for members), pretty sure that was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I don't think I'll ever get to play Cypress either, unless I somehow luck into that....

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  • dasamsdasams  335WRX Points: 90Members Posts: 335 Greens
    Joined:  edited Apr 1, 2019 #9

    Back in the 90’s, I was hitting balls at the Mission Bay range in SF. Chatting w the guy next to me who happened to be a member of SFGC. I was new in town (and new to golf) and didn’t know anything about it. Played it a dozen times. Awesome to look out over the course and neither a golf cart nor cart path to be seen. We lost touch so no more rounds for me but nice to have that experience 😀

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  • jjthomp2jjthomp2  278WRX Points: 139Handicap: 3Members Posts: 278 Greens
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    How is Orinda CC from a course standpoint?

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  • carreracarrera Northern California 2625WRX Points: 189Members Posts: 2,625 Titanium Tees
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    Re: Orinda - the course was renovated in 2015 with a new irrigation system, all new tees and bunkers, all greens expanded to original sizes (and a few completely rebuilt), hundreds of trees removed, several cart paths removed, and sand capping around all greens. The club has a great superintendent in Josh Smith who has continued to improve it. Course doesn't get a lot of play (25K rounds per year) and no tee times. Some restoration pics here: http://www.hochsteindesign.com/blog/2017/3/9/orinda-before-after

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  • pappaf2pappaf2  3489WRX Points: 160Members Posts: 3,489 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Apr 1, 2019 #12

    On -, @carrera said:

    Re: Orinda - the course was renovated in 2015 with a new irrigation system, all new tees and bunkers, all greens expanded to original sizes (and a few completely rebuilt), hundreds of trees removed, several cart paths removed, and sand capping around all greens. The club has a great superintendent in Josh Smith who has continued to improve it. Course doesn't get a lot of play (25K rounds per year) and no tee times. Some restoration pics here: http://www.hochsteindesign.com/blog/2017/3/9/orinda-before-after

    I always enjoy seeing the pictures Hochstein posts of OCC on Instagram. It look so good!

    Thanks for posting this link, I hadn't seen all these pictures. #12 green :o

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  • jjthomp2jjthomp2  278WRX Points: 139Handicap: 3Members Posts: 278 Greens
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    On -, @carrera said:

    Re: Orinda - the course was renovated in 2015 with a new irrigation system, all new tees and bunkers, all greens expanded to original sizes (and a few completely rebuilt), hundreds of trees removed, several cart paths removed, and sand capping around all greens. The club has a great superintendent in Josh Smith who has continued to improve it. Course doesn't get a lot of play (25K rounds per year) and no tee times. Some restoration pics here: http://www.hochsteindesign.com/blog/2017/3/9/orinda-before-after

    Appreciate that, i was looking at those online as well. Looks like they've done a fabulous job with the renovation. Hope to play it at some point this year!

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  • ShakesterShakester  609WRX Points: 132Handicap: 9Members Posts: 609 Golden Tee
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    I know someone who is a member of SFGC and he's told me that they only have 100 members at one time. Meaning someone would have to quit the club or well...die for the next person on the list to get on. I don't know if thats true or not, but I'm not sure why he would lie about that.

    Some overlooked clubs would be Peninsula, Sharon Heights and Palo Alto Hills. I've got to play Palo Alto Hills and its a beautiful course. Not sure about how the membership works or how difficult it is to get on.

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  • carreracarrera Northern California 2625WRX Points: 189Members Posts: 2,625 Titanium Tees
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    SFGC has many more members than that...not close to 100. But yes, it is one in and one out.
    PA Hills membership info: https://www.pahgcc.com/club/scripts/section/section.asp?NS=M Basically know two members and write a check.
    Sharon Heights is super high $$ to join (location, location, location).
    Peninsula is also expensive to join (same location point). Some people do a "derivative" membership that pleases the whole family by getting a social membership at Peninsula (that gets the family a "country club experience", and a golf membership at (male only) Cal Club.

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  • GC7GC7  135WRX Points: 86Members Posts: 135 Bunkers
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    Cal Club would be the best course with any chance of membership hopes in the area. If you want a great place to play golf without all the exclusive fuss then look into Stanford. It's wonderful with a great history and design. They have private members and you might get to play with some really smart students, faculty and fellows.

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  • carreracarrera Northern California 2625WRX Points: 189Members Posts: 2,625 Titanium Tees
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    GC- that would be great to play the Stanford course as a member (even though the course has changed a great deal over the last decade to accommodate Sand Hill Road and the campus), but in all my years in the Bay Area I have not known anyone (with no affiliation with the school) who joined the course as a member. Is that possible -not for me as a Cal guy who would sooner quit the game before joining "Stanfurd GC", but for the benefit of other board members?

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  • grega79grega79 San Mateo, Ca 1WRX Points: 2Members Posts: 1 Starters
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    You do not have to be a Stanford Alum to become a member, but I think it would probably help quite a bit if you had some sort of connection to the school. It is a very nice course, but it is lacking the typical country club amenities. I also seem to recall that the membership cost $50-100K a few years ago when I had talked with someone about it. Palo Alto Hills is a nice course, a lot of elevation changes, my next door neighbor growing up was a member and I played it a few times with him, last time I looked it was $125K for proprietary membership there.

    I have also been kicking around the idea of joining a club and was leaning towards Green Hills in Millbrae. It is fairly reasonable to join compared to a lot of clubs in the area.

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  • ButterCutter2ButterCutter2 NYC 340WRX Points: 96Handicap: 4Members Posts: 340 Greens
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    meadow club, stanford & lake merced (in that order) are also worth checking out for membership.

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  • bwantlandbwantland  30WRX Points: 53Members Posts: 30 Bunkers
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    On -, @ bnr204 said:

    meadow club, stanford & lake merced (in that order) are also worth checking out for membership.

    I live in Marin County (where Meadow Club is located) and my understanding from some brief conversations is that Meadow Club is an approximate 7-10 year timeline for full proprietary membership, although I haven't revisited those talks in a couple years.. I'm not at all familiar with timeline or $$$ for Stanford, and I believe Lake Merced is an easier process. LMGC pricing tends to correlate more with the economy compared to some others in the area (e.g. SFGC, Olympic and probably Cal Club now).

    As always, it helps to know where someone that's interested is located. Even in Marin County, it would take me 30 minutes to get to Meadow Club because of its location, so for anyone coming from further locales (the City, East Bay), that could easily become untenable with the bridge traffic.

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