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National Membership- Recommendations Please!


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I know this thread has been done on a few occasions, however, I'd like to revisit this and would really appreciate any assistance. I travel to the US every summer for 3 weeks (I'm Irish but don't hold that against me!). I have done this every summer for the past decade and have grown somewhat tired of doing trips around various golf resorts across the nation. Don't get me wrong they are all fantastic, but I'm at the point now where I'd really like to spend the entire time in 1 location and not jump around the country. Therefore, whilst I fully understand they make very little financial sense I'm in the market for a National Membership (its my upcoming 40th bday present to myself!).
 
As I'm always in the US in either July or August that rules out southern states, I can't take the heat and the courses are out of season. I'd most probably be targeting the north east and pacific northwest states. I'm open to any suggestions, just looking for a top notch private track with great practice facilities. I'd like to keep the initiation fee under $30k and yearly dues under $6k. 
 
Any club suggestions, advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated, along with any suggestions on how to break this to my wife!
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Before anything you might want to narrow down the location a little bit. Simply listing all of the private clubs in the northwestern and northeastern US would give you thousands of options and wouldn't be very helpful.  I'd pick 2-3 specific metropolitan areas (i.e., Seattle, WA or Philadelphia, PA or etc.) and then start looking at course options in those places.

 

About 90% of the private courses I'm familiar with (including my club) offer non-resident memberships which I believe is what you are wanting since you plan to stay in one place. A non-resident membership should offer you unlimited privileges at one specific club. A national membership would give you multiple course options but would most likely limit the amount of times you could play at each one. 

 

For what it's worth, non-resident memberships typically come with lower initiation fees and monthly dues also.

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I think one important question would be is this purely based on the golf, or are other amenities or proximity to other activities important to you.  If you're planning to play every day for three weeks, I'd personally also consider a club with multiple courses for some variety.  

 

Here are a couple of options that I'm aware of that might be worth considering:

  • Saucon Valley Country Club - 3 courses, about an hour outside of Philly, has hosted a number of USGA events.  They also have a trial program for 2021 where you could check it out before fully committing:
    • https://www.sauconvalleycc.org/membership/summer-experience-program
  • Northland Country Club (Duluth, MN) - Donald Ross design, last I heard they had a non-resident membership for something like $1K/year, although that could have changed
  • If you wanted to change up location year-to-year (or even in a given you, given you'd be in the states for multiple weeks), Dormie Club could be a good option with Hidden Creek (NJ) and Victoria National (IN).  
  • Kingsley Club
  • Inverness Club

Some of these may be more exclusive than others in terms of needing connections to get in.

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White Bear Yacht Club, St. Paul MN  $9500 initiation (10% off if paid in full) and $3k a year includes up to 30 days. Great Donald Ross course. Nice area to spend a summer month in. Great fishing if you are into that. 30 minutes from airport.

 

The Dormie Network would really be a great fit for you as it lets you travel around and play 6 different courses and is within your budget. If you go this route, watch the golf auctions every year as Dormie puts a membership up in almost all of them and you can get the initiation and first year cheaper than the list rate.

 

 

 

 

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Glens Falls Country Club    The course is one of the best in the U.S. (ranked #86 in Golf Magazines 2020 "100 best" list). It's a 110 year old Donald Ross gem and one of the best Ross courses you will find outside of Pinehurst. It is well preserved and conditioned and you'll find a warm welcome and good craic. It's the perfect course and club in the perfect location for a three week U.S. summer holiday, located 30 minutes north of Saratoga Springs which is one of the nicest summer vacation spots in the U.S. with lots of excellent restaurants and the famous racetrack and also close to all of the summer outdoor activities that the Adirondack mountain region offers, including boating, fishing, hiking and historic sites from the American Revolution. It's a three hour drive to NYC if you want to take a side trip to the Big Apple. I'd rent a place in Saratoga, but don't wait too long as the nice ones are taken fast during the racing season. If you choose three weeks before or after the racing season there is more availability and lower cost. You can thank me later by letting me join you for a round (I'll pay the guest fee and supply the Jamesons and/or Guinness).😄

 

Link to Club website: Glenns Falls CC

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Thanks for the suggestions gents! 

 

I'm not set on a specific area yet which I know makes it hard for some to make suggestions, however, I really enjoy some of the courses I've played in the NJ, NY (especially Long Island) and MA areas. Glens Falls, White Bear & Sacuon Valley all look interesting and I'll do some research into them. What I do know is that its all about the golf, looking for a great track and great practice facilities, anything more than that is a bonus but by no means necessary. 

 

I'm curious if anyone has played many (or has any recommendations) of the courses in the MT, CO, WY, ID areas. There seems to be a bunch of nice looking clubs in those states, I've pretty much exclusively stuck to either coast for my golf over the years. 

 

Again, thanks to all for the input!

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1 hour ago, rightroughallday said:

...its all about the golf, looking for a great track and great practice facilities, anything more than that is a bonus but by no means necessary. 

 

I'm curious if anyone has played many (or has any recommendations) of the courses in the MT, CO, WY, ID areas. There seems to be a bunch of nice looking clubs in those states...

 

Again, thanks to all for the input!

If it's all about the golf and you don't care if there is nothing else to do within 100 miles,  Ballyneal (CO) would be at the top of my list. It's in the middle of nowhere, but one of my favorite courses.

 

Similarly, Rock Creek Cattle Company (MT) is very cool: a great course in the middle of nowhere but a homey clubhouse and good food. 

 

One of the previous posts suggested The Kingsley Club (MI). That is also a good choice and is close to Traverse City in case you want to have more activities besides golf and practice

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There are lots of excellent resorts in the US not requiring an initiation fee to join. Personally I would prefer the ability to visit different locations each year and not be locked in to a single club.  Everyone's tastes and finances are different however.  Some excellent options where spending three weeks would be memorable:

 

Pebble Beach (5)

Pinehurst (9)

Bandon Dunes (5)

Cabot Links (3)

Firestone (4)

Greenbriar (2)

Mission Hills (3)

 

All the above have multiple courses providing good variety.

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What club do you play out of in Ireland?  A club in the Dublin area or other?

 

Are you looking for a place that isn't too busy or are you OK with that?  Golf in the US has been super busy most places the last 12 months.  Why private?  There are lots of levels of 'private' in the US.  Are there other activities you or the fam would like in those 3 weeks?

 

There are many many options depending on where you look and what you want.  

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Ballyneal isn't going to work for him. He wants to spend 3 weeks in one area with great practice facilities. Ballyneal does not have great practice facilities although the par 3 and main course only having 50 or so people a day will give a lot of playing time. 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do during the hottest part of the year with days often 100 F or higher and he'll be dreaming of being back in Ireland.

 

Kingsley is at least 30 minutes from Traverse City so you have a little more to do than Ballyneal but it's also remote.

 

For CO most of the mountain courses with national memberships and good  practice facilities will be too expensive given your requirements. Frost Creek was listed as $30k/$5790 in a local mag last year which fits and has a nice range and practice area, but I would be worried about lodging costs in that expensive area. Regular private courses in CO do not have national memberships and the really good ones are over $6k on the annual.

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On 2/18/2021 at 11:53 AM, cristphoto said:

There are lots of excellent resorts in the US not requiring an initiation fee to join. Personally I would prefer the ability to visit different locations each year and not be locked in to a single club.  Everyone's tastes and finances are different however.  Some excellent options where spending three weeks would be memorable:

 

Pebble Beach (5)

Pinehurst (9)

Bandon Dunes (5)

Cabot Links (3)

Firestone (4)

Greenbriar (2)

Mission Hills (3)

 

All the above have multiple courses providing good variety.

 

Greenbrier also has the private sporting club attached. Initiation for the sporting club is a lot higher than you noted, but plus side is access to the 2.5 courses in the resort, plus the 18 hole Fazio course and the 9 hole par 3 course that are set aside for sporting club members. I believe membership initiation is included with owning property, so if owning you place in the US is of interest it could work out.

 

At one point I think Oakmont national members, that would be a great opportunity if they still offer it and you could find your way in.

 

You mentioned no to the southern states, but the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst has a good national member deal, 36 holes, and puts you right in the heart of a golf mecca if you want more options... but it will be hot in the summer.

 

I wish I knew more about the membership options at the mountain clubs because it is a beautiful time to be in the GA, NC, TN mountains and there are a lot of good courses in the area - especially around Cashiers, Asheville, Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk, and Highlands. I have no idea the cost and suspect several of these would be over budget but some of the top names to check out include: Linville CC, Blowing Rock CC, Elk River, Mountain Top, Linville Ridge, Grandfather, Diamond Creek. 

 

 

 

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