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First Timer - Affordable Clubs around Maplewood/Union/Ironbound, NJ


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After years of wanting to join a club, the deck may finally be shaping up to pull the trigger Summer 2020. I'll be moving back to Jersey (somewhere in the Union/Maplewood/Ironbound area) and am looking for recommendations on affordable options (likely max out around $5k for the year all in, food minimums, etc.). Even better would like to do a season preview to see if the private club thing is for me before laying out an initiation fee. I'll be 31 so may qualify for some junior memberships but seem like different clubs vary their cutoff.

 

Wishlist:

- Above all, good golf. Would plan to make good use of the practice range and short game area and ideally shoot out for a few holes on weekdays. Being able to go 36 on a weekend if I have the time is big.

- <30 minute drive (realize its a moving target without having my housing locked in)

- Younger membership demographic

- Non-tipping/ doesn't require a caddie - big fan of caddies but know this will add up

- Guest-friendly policy -- know some clubs restrict how many times the same guest can play in a month or year, but prefer to not be limited if I want to bring the same guys up a few times a season

 

Thanks in advance

 

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Greetings!

 

5k all in is going to be tough, but the fact that you are under 35 helps. Most clubs have food/beverage minimums and/or assessments to go along with cart and caddy fees.

 

You can check out Maplewood Country Club. They had a program where you can try the course for a year, at no initiation fee and discounted dues. However, they do have a caddy program so you may have to take one on weekend mornings. Overall, I am not a huge fan of the course. Only 2 par 5's and it ends with a par 3. I think it is known more of a social club.

 

Suburban in Union is an excellent course. Golf only, so if you are looking for a pool, there is none. Also, has a caddy program so you may need one on weekend mornings. Not the longest course from the tips, but it is a fun and challenging layout.

 

Shackamaxon in Scotch Plains has affordable dues. Also has a caddy program. I am not a huge fan of this course as well.

 

That being said, it does not hurt to reach out and test these places.

 

If you want to drive a little farther out west or south, check out Metuchen Country Club in Metuchen or it may be even in Plainfield. One of my favorite tracks. No driving true driving range. Has a caddy program but I do not think it is required to take one. Email them about dues.

 

The best bang for your buck IMO is New Jersey National in Basking Ridge. Golf only, but an excellent course. No initiation fees, food minimums or assessments. You can walk the course anytime, so that saves you on cart fees. The restaurant is open to the public, if that matters to you. You can hit any club you want on the range. If I lived closer to the area, this would be my top choice. You also have reciprocal privileges to a few other courses as well.

 

Check out Colonia Country Club in Colonia as well.

 

You can try and reach out to Echo Lake in Westfield, but they are pricier. Same with Canoe Brook.

 

I hope that gives you an idea. Good luck on your search and feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions.,

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Really appreciate the recommendations; I have some homework to do.

 

I think I would be willing to up the max a bit if could find a place that doesn't require caddies on weekend mornings. Figure ten rounds is an extra $1,000 minimum right there. Totally fine with no pool but prefer a social place to get a beer and meet new people or get into a card game.

 

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forest hill field club also worth checking out. 5k is a low bar. i mean glenwood down near old bridge will certainly fit your budget / caddie rule but if you scour GWRX, you'll see comments on its condition and operation. all the places njgolfer11 plus watchung valley mentioned are worth looking at. most clubs do have caddie programs or if not forced cart use, and i can't imagine any that allows the same guest more than 12x a year, if that. because at that point, 1 guy can join and just bring his old regular foursome as 3 guests all the time...

 

since you have a price cap, 1 way to sort of figure out what clubs are looking for members & thus running deals is to see which are associated with services that provide outside play. that would be things like boxgroove, clubcorp play away, troon prive, openrounds, rotaclub, & golfpass (no, not the rory mcilroy one, this one - http://www.golfpass.co/). you could also try & see which places are associated with soho golf club. those associated with eligo will be outside your budget. thought process here is if a club's willing to open itself up in some way to non-direct member play, they need the revenue and/or exposure. for example, essex fells is associated with 1 of the aforementioned programs.

 

good luck.

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