Country Club Questions

 byrne092 ·  
byrne092byrne092  110Members Posts: 110
Joined:  in Courses, Memberships and Travel #1

Hey all - I am looking to join a local club very soon. I have visited 5 and have it narrowed down to 2-3. In my area there are a ton of choices (i think approx. 24), but proximity is always a major factor and the next being up front cost/exclusivity; so I already have that pretty much figured out.

Being as this is my first time joining a country club, is there anything I should look into that is not apparent on the fees and dues list?

Biggest factor is the course, but getting an idea of the members would be nice too since that's who I hope to start getting some regular games in with. Not sure the best way to do this other than multiple visits?

I am in the St. Louis area, if anyone here has any insight, I would appreciate it!

Posted:
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Comments

  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and Southwest 16047Members Posts: 16,047
    Joined:  #2

    Yes, the course is essential but to BOD's, the club culture is what makes a club a great place. Make sure to ask about playing with some active members and or board members that will help you get to know others. Additionally, ask for a copy of the clubs charter or rules and read it before signing. Plus, most clubs that have a pro-active membership committee have a few members that help out with new members getting acclimated but don't go at it expecting them to hold your hand. Being a joiner in tournaments even leadership roles play a key part in making the club your happy place. FYI: I been on the BOD of two equity clubs, plus held membership and finance committee roles, plus low-index and Interclub team player. Good Luck.

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  • GolfWRXGolfWRX Warning Points: 0  11 Members Posts: 11 #ad
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  • caniac6caniac6  3049Members Posts: 3,049
    Joined:  #3

    I would ask if there are any major projects coming up. I would think you would want to avoid any long course or clubhouse shut downs, and assesments.

    Posted:
  • Schley Schley Love ya don't tell ya enough! Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1275Members Posts: 1,275
    Joined:  #4

    You won't regret it if you do your due diligence. A couple things come to mind and you probably have some of the below already covered.

    1. inquire about assessments and when they had their last and for how much.
    2. ask how dues increases are handled. Most clubs will give the board discretion (inflation rate) for an increase without a vote.
    3. do you know any members now? They are usually the best way to grow your network. Also weekly games held by the club and tournaments will grow it quickly.
    4. F/B minimum. Know what it is and if it is in the winter as well you will have to plan on going to the club (if open) during the winter to dine.
    5. Any reciprocal benefits?
    6. If you have to pay an initiation, is that refundable at all? Some places are, others aren't.

    Good luck

    Posted:
  • vinprun71vinprun71 Connecticut 133Members Posts: 133
    Joined:  #5
    1. Dues not listed on documentation provided (capital, golf fees, etc)
    2. Minimums and when those need to be reached
    3. Any equity?
    4. Food menu: Is it up to snuff or not? Biggest factor is the thought of, "Would I want friends and/or family to join me at the club for a meal/event?" If the food doesn't live up, you may want to remove it from your list.
    5. Events: If you have a family or plan to have one, what events are available for you to attend at the club?
    6. Quality of instruction available
    7. Caddie program or lack thereof
    8. Tee times required or games organized upon arrival?
    Posted:
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  • WRX8802WRX8802  13Members Posts: 13
    Joined:  #6

    If you are not going to be paid in immediately, ask about playing restrictions--both with respect to tee times and member events. I would also suggest paying attention to your age and January 1 to make sure you don't miss any application cutoff that might affect your initiation fee--for example, because you turned 40 or because you didn't get your application in prior to an initiation increase. Final word of advice, be weary of joining a club where you don't know many members.

    Posted:
  • DancinDancin  325Members Posts: 325
    Joined:  #7

    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    Posted:
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  • burnsniperburnsniper  607Members Posts: 607
    Joined:  #8

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    Posted:
  • byrne092byrne092  110Members Posts: 110
    Joined:  #9

    All great advice! Thanks.

    I understand your comment on equity/non, but the ones I’m looking at are very reputable (been around for a very long time). As far as number of clubs I mentioned, that’s kind of a skewed in the sense that it’s encompassing a fairly large area (city, country and almost getting to rural parts of the area).

    The assessment question is definitely on the list. One had a debt service increase due to remodeling, so I’d be curious how that will factor into assessments moving forward as well.

    I’ll post some updates as I progress.

    Posted:
  • byrne092byrne092  110Members Posts: 110
    Joined:  #10

    County*

    Posted:
  • DancinDancin  325Members Posts: 325
    Joined:  #11

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Posted:
  • byrne092byrne092  110Members Posts: 110
    Joined:  #12

    @Dancin said:
    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    I like that recommendation. I never thought to check out the maintenance shed or speak with the grounds crew. I will definitely do both.

    Posted:
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  • Schley Schley Love ya don't tell ya enough! Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1275Members Posts: 1,275
    Joined:  edited Oct 23, 2019 2:52pm #13

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Posted:
  • raynorfan1raynorfan1  3745Members Posts: 3,745
    Joined:  #14

    @Schley said:

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Most of the "Benevolent Dictator" models are cases where the dictator 100% owns the club and there is no board to answer to.

    TBH I don't think either model is fundamentally better; I've seen clubs that are really well run by committees of members, and some that have been run into the ground by committees. I've seen owner/operators build and maintain amazing clubs...and I've seen them destroy amazing clubs.

    Posted:
  • DancinDancin  325Members Posts: 325
    Joined:  #15

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Most of the "Benevolent Dictator" models are cases where the dictator 100% owns the club and there is no board to answer to.

    TBH I don't think either model is fundamentally better; I've seen clubs that are really well run by committees of members, and some that have been run into the ground by committees. I've seen owner/operators build and maintain amazing clubs...and I've seen them destroy amazing clubs.

    That's what I meant. Single owner so while the board can advise, it really doesn't matter what they say.

    Posted:
  • Schley Schley Love ya don't tell ya enough! Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1275Members Posts: 1,275
    Joined:  #16

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Most of the "Benevolent Dictator" models are cases where the dictator 100% owns the club and there is no board to answer to.

    TBH I don't think either model is fundamentally better; I've seen clubs that are really well run by committees of members, and some that have been run into the ground by committees. I've seen owner/operators build and maintain amazing clubs...and I've seen them destroy amazing clubs.

    Well that is a different model and there aren't many of those around. In that case the owner can do whatever they want, thus 100% owner.

    Posted:
  • ladygolfer2ladygolfer2  49Members Posts: 49
    Joined:  #17

    If you have a wife that golfs, check into how the women are treated. And don't ask the male members, ask the female members. Sexism is still rampant at private golf clubs. Sadly, I am speaking from experience.

    Posted:
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  • raynorfan1raynorfan1  3745Members Posts: 3,745
    Joined:  #18

    @Schley said:

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Most of the "Benevolent Dictator" models are cases where the dictator 100% owns the club and there is no board to answer to.

    TBH I don't think either model is fundamentally better; I've seen clubs that are really well run by committees of members, and some that have been run into the ground by committees. I've seen owner/operators build and maintain amazing clubs...and I've seen them destroy amazing clubs.

    Well that is a different model and there aren't many of those around. In that case the owner can do whatever they want, thus 100% owner.

    There are a ton of them; maybe not the majority, but in the Golf Digest Top 50 alone you have:

    Augusta National
    Pebble Beach
    Sand Hills
    Muirfield Village
    Pacific Dunes
    Whistling Straits
    Riviera
    Kiawah Ocean
    Shadow Creek
    Pinehurst #2
    Alotion Club
    Gozzer Ranch
    Bandon Dunes
    Pikewood National
    Erin Hills
    Victoria National
    Spyglass Hill
    Ballyneal
    TPC Sawgrass
    Old MacDonald

    Obviously, a number of these dictators have elected to open their course up to the public; but the owner/operator is alive and well, even at the top of the rankings.

    Posted:
  • Bluefan75Bluefan75  4057Members Posts: 4,057
    Joined:  #19

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Most of the "Benevolent Dictator" models are cases where the dictator 100% owns the club and there is no board to answer to.

    TBH I don't think either model is fundamentally better; I've seen clubs that are really well run by committees of members, and some that have been run into the ground by committees. I've seen owner/operators build and maintain amazing clubs...and I've seen them destroy amazing clubs.

    Well that is a different model and there aren't many of those around. In that case the owner can do whatever they want, thus 100% owner.

    There are a ton of them; maybe not the majority, but in the Golf Digest Top 50 alone you have:

    Augusta National
    Pebble Beach
    Sand Hills
    Muirfield Village
    Pacific Dunes
    Whistling Straits
    Riviera
    Kiawah Ocean
    Shadow Creek
    Pinehurst #2
    Alotion Club
    Gozzer Ranch
    Bandon Dunes
    Pikewood National
    Erin Hills
    Victoria National
    Spyglass Hill
    Ballyneal
    TPC Sawgrass
    Old MacDonald

    Obviously, a number of these dictators have elected to open their course up to the public; but the owner/operator is alive and well, even at the top of the rankings.

    Who is Augusta National's 100% owner?

    Posted:
  • raynorfan1raynorfan1  3745Members Posts: 3,745
    Joined:  #20

    @Bluefan75 said:
    Who is Augusta National's 100% owner?

    Augusta National, Inc.

    https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch/BusinessInformation?businessId=443734&businessType=Domestic Profit Corporation&fromSearch=True

    It's actually rather opaque as to who the ultimate shareholders are, but it is not fundamentally "owned" by the members.

    Posted:
  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and Southwest 16047Members Posts: 16,047
    Joined:  #21

    Most of the clubs I've reviewed and visited are Benevolent dictator owned, a smaller percentage is equity and some Corporate (big company) owned. A benevolent dictator is one or two partners who own the club outright yet may have a loan on the property, and typically have management in place over each department which makes up a management committee that reports to the owner(s). They have authority over day-to-day operations but acquiesce to the owner's wishes, as it should be. All clubs have either member/management Rule books or a Charter. A Charter is like an HOA Charter, it defines all variables and holds effective power, whereas rule books are dynamic.

    The best IMO is the Benevolent Dictator owned model, especially if he/she is an active member and isn't an owner to defray taxes on income from other sources, though that may happen to some degree. What should be considered is the magnitude of the initiation fee and the owners purpose for owning and how they will get a return on their investment. Also, at corporate-owned clubs, anything can happen to the club, anytime, and often it's a surprise to all.

    Posted:
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  • Bluefan75Bluefan75  4057Members Posts: 4,057
    Joined:  #22

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Bluefan75 said:
    Who is Augusta National's 100% owner?

    Augusta National, Inc.

    https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch/BusinessInformation?businessId=443734&businessType=Domestic Profit Corporation&fromSearch=True

    It's actually rather opaque as to who the ultimate shareholders are, but it is not fundamentally "owned" by the members.

    Really. Interesting. I always thought it was essentially owned by the members....

    Posted:
  • GolfWRXGolfWRX Warning Points: 0  11 Members Posts: 11 #ad
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  • Schley Schley Love ya don't tell ya enough! Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1275Members Posts: 1,275
    Joined:  edited Oct 23, 2019 5:51pm #23

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Schley said:

    @Dancin said:

    @burnsniper said:

    @Dancin said:
    If one of your 2-3 is non equity, all things being equal, go with that. Equity memberships in lower tier clubs are like rat hotels and it will be tough to get your equity back. You say there's 24 competing private clubs in your area - more than a few of those will be struggling with that much competition. Read the contract very carefully and know what you are getting into.

    I actually recommend the opposite. If you pay an initiation fee to a non-equity membership that money is just going to someone else and you get no representation/vote/ownership say in the direction of the club.

    That being said, I don’t every think you should count on getting your downstroke back even in an equity club that says it’s refundable - this just doesn’t really happen anymore. Older generation members of my club theoretically get their initiation back after they leave, however it only comes out of surplus funds and people wait 10-20 years before they get paid after leaving the club.

    I've found that clubs run by a benevolent dictator are generally better run and have less issues which is why I stated that. Clubs with voting members always have factions that want different things. One other thing I wanted to say is look closely at the facilities and take a really good look at the maintenance shed and have a talk with the grounds crew. If the main clubhouse facilities look dated or run down compared to other clubs, despite what they tell you, you will be getting hit with assessments at some point in an equity club because they will want to keep up with the neighbors. If the main facilities are great but the maintenance shed is a mess or the grounds crew doesn't seem that excited about being there, you may be joining a club that prefers putting money into things other than the golf course and there could be a lot of deferred maintenance on the course and irrigation system that will result in an assessment at some point.

    Any benevolent dictator is such because the rest of the board is allowing him to be. All clubs have bylaws and procedures on committees/boards. It is a democratic process on paper, but if the rest of a board/committee always votes with the club president on everything, then they become a benevolent dictator. The point of a club's board is to ensure there is proper oversight of club decisions and to give those elected the voice of those electors. If there is a benevolent dictator it is terrible bylaws which need to be re written or the rest of the board are cow tailing to the president.

    Most of the "Benevolent Dictator" models are cases where the dictator 100% owns the club and there is no board to answer to.

    TBH I don't think either model is fundamentally better; I've seen clubs that are really well run by committees of members, and some that have been run into the ground by committees. I've seen owner/operators build and maintain amazing clubs...and I've seen them destroy amazing clubs.

    Well that is a different model and there aren't many of those around. In that case the owner can do whatever they want, thus 100% owner.

    There are a ton of them; maybe not the majority, but in the Golf Digest Top 50 alone you have:

    Augusta National

    Sand Hills
    Muirfield Village

    Riviera

    Alotion Club
    Gozzer Ranch

    Pikewood National

    Victoria National

    Ballyneal

    Obviously, a number of these dictators have elected to open their course up to the public; but the owner/operator is alive and well, even at the top of the rankings.

    I wouldn't list public courses for this discussion as it is on private cc models, thus I have taken out the public courses.

    The overwhelming majority of private golf/cc's are equity or member owned, particularly in cities with size, equity clubs are the norm. Also corporate owned clubs I wouldn't classify as under a BD model either, like in Discovery Land Co. or Dormie Club, ClubCorp. There are not many places where Dick Youngscap is the sole owner and operator, although another example would be Pat Ruddy at the European Club.

    Posted:
  • Schley Schley Love ya don't tell ya enough! Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1275Members Posts: 1,275
    Joined:  #24

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Bluefan75 said:
    Who is Augusta National's 100% owner?

    Augusta National, Inc.

    https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch/BusinessInformation?businessId=443734&businessType=Domestic Profit Corporation&fromSearch=True

    It's actually rather opaque as to who the ultimate shareholders are, but it is not fundamentally "owned" by the members.

    They are set up as a for profit entity so they don't have to disclose their financial records publicly like many private clubs which are set up as non-profits. As to who owns the club, I don't think there is enough information to know if it is or isn't owned by the members. It could be, or it could be owned by the Jones/Roberts family in a trust even AFAWK.

    Posted:
  • burnsniperburnsniper  607Members Posts: 607
    Joined:  #25

    Three other things to consider:

    1. Will the club give you a copy of the financial returns and do they look good (little to no debt). If the club won’t give you a copy run, don’t walk away.
    2. How old is the club? While not always the case (especially in areas where manufacturing and other industries have left), clubs from the golden age of golf are usually more financially sound.
    3. Initiation Deals. Contrary to what most people think, clubs that are running deals on initiation fees (not including junior executive or similar structures) are usually the weakest financially. That being said, if there is no initiation fee at all, there is effectively no risk in joining.
    Posted:
  • burnsniperburnsniper  607Members Posts: 607
    Joined:  #26

    @Schley said:

    @raynorfan1 said:

    @Bluefan75 said:
    Who is Augusta National's 100% owner?

    Augusta National, Inc.

    https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch/BusinessInformation?businessId=443734&businessType=Domestic Profit Corporation&fromSearch=True

    It's actually rather opaque as to who the ultimate shareholders are, but it is not fundamentally "owned" by the members.

    They are set up as a for profit entity so they don't have to disclose their financial records publicly like many private clubs which are set up as non-profits. As to who owns the club, I don't think there is enough information to know if it is or isn't owned by the members. It could be, or it could be owned by the Jones/Roberts family in a trust even AFAWK.

    Also, I believe that Augusta is truly unique because the Masters is profitable and there are no clubs that run their own championship at the same scale. I wouldn’t be surprised if there where multiple entities (non for profit, members; for profit aspect for the Masters, etc.) actually involved in the ownership and operation of the club.

    Posted:
  • raynorfan1raynorfan1  3745Members Posts: 3,745
    Joined:  #27

    Regardless of the discussion of actual ownership...

    Is there any debate that the Chairman of Augusta - be it Clifford Roberts, Hootie Johnson, or Billy Payne - operates as a benevolent dictator?

    Posted:
  • GolfWRXGolfWRX Warning Points: 0  11 Members Posts: 11 #ad
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  • HackerDaveHackerDave  1433Members Posts: 1,433
    Joined:  #28

    In my opinion, one of the most important things to look at is debt level. Times are good and interest rates are low so clubs are spending (and borrowing) to "improve" the membership experience. Thats all well and good but should times get a bit tougher, assessments are sure to follow and that leads to members leaving and the downward spiral begins. The next thing to look at is how easy is it to leave the club. This is a double edged sword. You want it easy should you need/want to leave, but if its to easy to leave, when the economy takes a downward turn, members leave and the load is left to those that remain.

    I don't want to sound like a pessimist, but you do need to protect yourself. This is entertainment after all, and you don't want to find yourself trapped in a club with no way to escape.

    Outside of the financial things, think about how you want to use the club. Can you walk when you want (assuming you like to walk), is it female friendly if your spouse/sig other plays. Do you like tournament play? Take a look at the annual tournament calendar. They may have to many or not enough. Check out the food. You have to buy it so hopefully its good. Any big projects on the board? If so, the club could be closed for some time or a nine shut down etc. It would suck to join and then find out they are blowing up the course.

    Posted:
  • DonatelloNobodieDonatelloNobodie  170Members Posts: 170
    Joined:  #29

    If you are putting down an initiation fee, take great care in looking at the sustainability of the club. Too many people simply pay & hope. Look at financials. Avoid clubs with debt. Look at operating expenses vs. revenue. Look at the balance in capital reserve (avoids the need to borrow for projects). Find out if there were assessments in the last several years. Find out if there are plans for significant capital projects.

    Get membership numbers and history. Is there a waiting list? Has membership increased or declined over the last several years.

    Consider any initiation or equity fees that you pay as money gone forever, despite promises of refunds on leaving. Unless there is a waiting list to replace you, you won’t get get anything back. (Google country club membership lawsuits). If the club goes bankrupt, closes, or gets sold, your membership can be gone. Lots of horror stories out there. I have neighbors who each lost $50K initiation in a club that went chap-11 two years after they joined. Clubs are struggling these days and many will close before supply and demand are back in balance.

    Research any joining deals or discounts. You’ll be disappointed to pay full asking price, only to learn that others obtained substantial discounts. Everything is negotiable,

    Finally, there is the club culture. Unless you know members and have played there, you have a tough time determining if you’ll like being a member. Hang around the place on weekend mornings and observe the vibe of the place. Your regular playing group will make all the difference in your enjoyment.

    Posted:
  • 68bronco68bronco  58Members Posts: 58
    Joined:  #30

    Taking a cue from Club Pro Guy...

    Don’t forget to ask for headshots from all weekend Bev. Cart girls.

    :D Sorry, I had to do it!!! :D

    Posted:
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  • byrne092byrne092  110Members Posts: 110
    Joined:  #31

    Is it normal to ask for financials? I guess if it is an equity club it should be a fair question. The one club did disclose the current debt when I asked why the debt service fee had gone up.

    Headshots :D

    Posted:
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