My fellow golfers,
New to the forum, but looking for a bit of guidance and perspective, given the investment. I'm 33, and my wife and I are moving to the Chatham, NJ area with our two kids this fall (both under the age of 2). Because I'm absolutely infuriated with how populated the public courses are in the area, I've made the decision to join a private club. I've reached out to most of the private clubs in the area, and have landed on a preliminary ranking, outlined below. For me, I can play any private course and have a great time - but I'm really trying to understand the culture of the clubs themselves, given that this is more of a family investment. I'm looking for a community similar to Echo Lake in Westfield or PCC in Edison (I just know too many at both of these clubs and really want to meet new people who reside in the Chatham/Summit area).
1. Canoe Brook: The most expensive option by far, but seemingly one of the best run. The Jr. membership initiation is much higher than others, but you get 36 holes and seems to be a really close nit club. It's also a 3-5 minute drive from Chatham.
2. Brooklake: I love this course - I just think it's beautiful with all of the water. Course also plays extremely quick. Incompetent management, and seems to be more focused on events and weddings to non-members, than making their members happy. Nonetheless, in my opinion, it's an incredible value and not too far from chatham. May not give us the family feel we're looking for - more of a place to get a quick round in, but I could be wrong. Anyone have any perspective?
3. Essex County Country Club: Great history, great course - but no one seems to be getting back to me regarding membership options, which may be a testament to how it's run. I'm not going to give up on them yet because it seems like a great club. Anyone have any perspective on what it's like being a member there?
4. Spring Brook CC: Interesting place, that seemingly provides decent value - but the clubhouse is kind of old and seems to be in the shadows of Morris County CC. Doesn't seem as close of a club community, but definitely more tight knit than Brooklake. Again, these are surface level assumptions based on the discussions I've had with staff, and the tours that I've been on.
5. Basking Ridge CC: No initiation fee, reasonable dues - but seems to be a much larger membership base that requires scheduling a t-time. Haven't played the course or been immersed in the club, but seems like it's in decent shape and people enjoy it there. Scheduling a t-time is a huge downside for me, though.
**Note: Fairmount CC in Chatham is not being considered, as my first interactions with them were unfavorable. Morris County CC also not being considered because their Junior Initiation is the same as the regular - just the dues are slightly lower. MCCC's dues are higher than Canoe Brook, and I don't like it nearly as much.
For those familiar with any of the clubs mentioned above, I'd be immensely appreciative for any additional insight, guidance, context, and/or experiences as I look to close the loop on this process in the coming months. My gut is telling me to just pay the high initiation fees at Canoe Brook because it seems to check most, if not all, of the boxes and has an awesome membership base. 36 holes ain't bad either!
Thanks in advance everyone.