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Status of private clubs in your area?


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I was having a discussion with a friend the other day regarding the future of private golf clubs.  I quipped the number of private clubs will continue to decline in the coming years.  His retort was there are no shortage of members where he plays.  I ask what's the average age of the members, and he says about 65.  The fact in the next 10 years at least half of the membership will have passed away or have stopped playing seemed to be lost on him.  I also mention the next generation of people that would need to join said club to keep it afloat are now saddled with student loan and mortgage debt.  Let's not forget younger people don't look favorably at the idea of a private clubs that aren't inclusive for everyone ect.
Wherever you may be, are the local private clubs starting to get hard up for new members?

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Clubs here (FL) seem to be a bit ahead of the curb. Perhaps they're already used to the aging population as FL is well older in general.

 

They started to cater to younger demographics already. Some offer daycare/camps during the weekends for those with kids. Also I've seen multiple tiers of membership like weekends only or 72 rounds are year etc. 

 

Overall I think it's up to the individual club. Times change that's a fact, a well run club will think not only of the next year, but the next 5 years, 10 years etc. 

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2 minutes ago, Warrior42111 said:

Clubs here (FL) seem to be a bit ahead of the curb. Perhaps they're already used to the aging population as FL is well older in general.

 

They started to cater to younger demographics already. Some offer daycare/camps during the weekends for those with kids. Also I've seen multiple tiers of membership like weekends only or 72 rounds are year etc. 

 

Overall I think it's up to the individual club. Times change that's a fact, a well run club will think not only of the next year, but the next 5 years, 10 years etc. 


That's a good point.  I've talked to a few people from different clubs around here and it seems like they're making a shift from the last gasp of the baby boom generation to the younger types.  If you are someone who is close or at retirement and you've got some money for a private club, you probably sold your house for a big profit and left CA.  

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Here in Southern CA, CC memberships for younger folks 40 and under and non existent. Such a long waiting list that they are no longer adding anyone to a 4yr long wait list. 

They have full memberships (non jr.) but there is also a multi year waiting list for that as well. Initiation also isn't a static # as some members have to sell their membership or its a flat rate. some over 100k. normal under 40 folks usually can't afford that. maybe im the outlier. who knows

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29 minutes ago, Dr.Zevia said:


I should qualify I live in the bay area of CA.  Very left leaning here, and cost of housing is extremely high.  But that's why I proposed the question.

Vancouver, BC might also be a bit left leaning too.

It also ranks the least affordable for housing in NA.

 

Many of the premier private clubs here have very long wait lists....likely a 2-4 year wait.

With initiations coming in around $60000-$100000 for the top 6 privates.

 

https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-most-unaffordable-city-housing-north-america

Edited by KBong
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I'm a Millenial obsessed with golf and I don't think I'm alone, at least if my social media feeds are to be believed.

 

I also have no interest in joining a private club, mostly due to the costs involved. I think the vast majority in my age group and economic position are probably in the same boat. Around me, at least, private clubs are pretty damn expensive, and with volatile job and housing markets and an uncertain path to eventual retirement, I cannot possibly commit the required amount of money to a country club.

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3 minutes ago, KBong said:

Vancouver, BC might also be a bit left leaning too.

It also ranks the least affordable for housing in NA.

 

Many of the premier private clubs here have very long wait lists....likely a 2-4 year wait.

With initiations coming in around $60000-$100000 for the top 6 privates.


I'm not saying they will all go away, especially some of the very high end ones, since there will always be the super rich.  I wouldn't compare Vancouver to the SF area when it comes to politics. 

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3 minutes ago, david.c.w said:

GA here.

 

Absolutely packed.  We have a 5+ year waiting list right now.  Has never been like this in the history of the club.

 

Most members joining the wait list are under 40.  Your friend knows whats up.

 

 

 

 


That's good for your area.  A basic house doesn't cost a million dollars and you're not taxed to death like CA.

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6 minutes ago, MaineMariner said:

I'm a Millenial obsessed with golf and I don't think I'm alone, at least if my social media feeds are to be believed.

 

I also have no interest in joining a private club, mostly due to the costs involved. I think the vast majority in my age group and economic position are probably in the same boat. Around me, at least, private clubs are pretty damn expensive, and with volatile job and housing markets and an uncertain path to eventual retirement, I cannot possibly commit the required amount of money to a country club.


My exact point. Are we seeing the last batch of the traditional private club memberships.  Maybe the lower tier of clubs become open to the public.

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At my club we are currently full (300 memberships) with a 3+ year waitlist, and our average member age is <45 years old. They also recently informed us all that the initiation fees going forward were increasing by 100%, and the waitlist has continued to grow even with the price change. 

 

FWIW all of the other private clubs near me (10-15 approximately) also have multi-year waitlists full of people.

 

I think private clubs will be just fine for at least the next 5-10 years. After that, who knows....

 

 

Edited by Abh159
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In my area, I think it depends on the desirability or exclusiveness of the club: 

The exclusive equity membership clubs seem to be fine. These are old money clubs.

Second tier clubs, e.g., 50 K initiation range, seem to be stable but a couple of them associated with real estate developments have, for the first time, advertised for outside, non residence owning, non equity, members. These clubs are in affluent areas, e.g., 2 million dollar homes, so I guess they just don't have golfers buying these properties or the homeowners can't afford club dues in addition to their mortgages.

Third tier clubs, e.g., 5K initiation and non equity membership, seem to be struggling and actively looking for members. Some of these are no longer truly private and are managed by companies like Club Corp. 

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Every single private club in our city has a waiting list AFAIK.

 

Most (all ?) of the semi-privates are also sold out of memberships and some have even put limits on the number of rounds that "members" can play.

 

Will that change sometime in the next few years? Perhaps, but for now the golf club business is a good one to be in.

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1 hour ago, MaineMariner said:

I'm a Millenial obsessed with golf and I don't think I'm alone, at least if my social media feeds are to be believed.

 

I also have no interest in joining a private club, mostly due to the costs involved. I think the vast majority in my age group and economic position are probably in the same boat. Around me, at least, private clubs are pretty damn expensive, and with volatile job and housing markets and an uncertain path to eventual retirement, I cannot possibly commit the required amount of money to a country club.

Same here, my dude. Millennial who's either golfing or thinking about golfing. I'm well into my career and we can easily afford the cost of most of the local clubs, but they don't interest me. I'm a muni rat at heart and at $30-40 with a cart it would take a lot of rounds to make a club make sense.

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2 hours ago, Dr.Zevia said:


I should qualify I live in the bay area of CA.  Very left leaning here, and cost of housing is extremely high.  But that's why I proposed the question.

Also in Bay Area.  That's a pretty blanket statement, as there are still areas of very red.  

 

As for the original question, CC prices have gone up the roof since Covid, and junior tournaments are near impossible to get in.  

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2 hours ago, Dr.Zevia said:

That's good for your area.  A basic house doesn't cost a million dollars and you're not taxed to death like CA.

 

Left Los Angeles last spring after ~15 years to move back to Vegas largely because of this.

 

I have multiple income streams and do pretty well for myself but the amount of money I was basically just giving away in CA - and not just taxes but ALL the ways they find to nickel and dime you to death - while getting practically nothing for it finally broke me.

 

 

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Currently I'm in the Roanoke area.  Prior to that I was in the Orlando area.  


My private club in Orlando was doing quite well and doubled their initiation given the improvements they made to the clubhouse and driving range.  I think the rest (CCO, Keene's Point, Alaqua Lakes, Interlachen, etc.) were doing fairly well.  I think Lake Nona has had a dropoff, but Isleworth is still big time.  Bay Hill isn't exactly private, but I don't think they are hurting.  

The members at my club in Orlando were mostly in the 40's to 60's with a lot of junior members.  I know Alaqua Lakes is pretty similar.  CCO was more older clientele.

 

In Roanoke they've had some issues in recent years reading up on some things.  However, from what I gathered a couple of the clubs went from 500 members to 450 members.  That's still a lot of members and the fact that the club is struggling financially at 450 members is more of an indictment against management than the drop in members, IMO.  

I'm a member at Roanoke CC and it's not struggling.  It has a wide range of clientele, age-wise.  Although most of it is 30-70 years old.  It's a true CC so they have a pool, tennis/pickleball courts, etc.

 

You have to remember that most private clubs don't need to make a profit or are not trying to make a profit.  They are just trying to basically break even with enough to keep re-investing into the club.  If they return too much of a profit, they'll lose tax exempt status.

 

That's the thing I think that keeps private clubs going versus public courses that need to make a profit.  I think public golf is is in trouble because even if the course is profitable, often times land developers will seek the land because they can build something else there that will be more profitable.  That leaves public courses having to seek locations out of the middle of nowhere so land developers are not so prone to build over it

 

With private clubs that are in great locations, they can keep the land and do just enough to suit their members needs.

 

 

 

 

 

RH

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3 hours ago, Dr.Zevia said:


That's good for your area.  A basic house doesn't cost a million dollars and you're not taxed to death like CA.

He also doesn't have inflated income like in CA.  A $150k/yr job in S. CA can be half as lucrative in the majority of the country.

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I am sad to report that our club (we’ve been members for 24-years) went semi-private a couple of years ago. Our club was always in pristine shape with a challenging 18-hole Geoffrey Cornish layout. We hosted the LPGA Friendly’s Classic golf tournament for four years. Since we were bought out, the new ownership has done next to nothing to maintain our course. The bunkers are in need of drainage repair and fresh sand. The cart paths are in horrible shape, the fairways have become very “thatchy”, and the rough gets mowed twice each month. At least they are maintaining the greens as our putting surfaces are smooth and quick usually running between 10 and 11. The ownership has informed us that “public play will save the day”. They will never go back to private. Another private course in our area has gone to semi-private this year. That leaves two private clubs within a thirty mile radius of my home. My town has four public courses that are packed each day. We miss the country club atmosphere. The fine dining, the pool and tennis, a manicured golf course with course availability almost every day (never needed a tee time during the week, just show up and tee off), and especially golfers who know etiquette and pace of play. 

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3 hours ago, KBong said:

Vancouver, BC might also be a bit left leaning too.

It also ranks the least affordable for housing in NA.

 

Many of the premier private clubs here have very long wait lists....likely a 2-4 year wait.

With initiations coming in around $60000-$100000 for the top 6 privates.

 

https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-most-unaffordable-city-housing-north-america

I'm a member of one of these courses, and demand and usage has never been higher.  So much so, that we are not even accepting applications.  I know Point Grey (not my club) has 70+ people on waitlist (this isn't anecdotal as they post the list in their lockerroom and I saw it with my own eyes) and tons are from my demographic (40-50).  I also know the ritzy tennis clubs in the area are quoting 7 year waitlists to new applicants.  I think this all points to stratification (while most people have economic constraints, there is a subset that have never had more disposable income, especially in the professional service class (doctors, lawyers)). 

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35 minutes ago, vangolf said:

I'm a member of one of these courses, and demand and usage has never been higher.  So much so, that we are not even accepting applications.  I know Point Grey (not my club) has 70+ people on waitlist (this isn't anecdotal as they post the list in their lockerroom and I saw it with my own eyes) and tons are from my demographic (40-50).  I also know the ritzy tennis clubs in the area are quoting 7 year waitlists to new applicants.  I think this all points to stratification (while most people have economic constraints, there is a subset that have never had more disposable income, especially in the professional service class (doctors, lawyers)). 

Yes, another private here had 80 people on the wait list last year and stopped taking applications.

 

I know another member at a private here....the Covid play was so heavy last year....they told members they could only play 9 holes per day on the weekend....it didn't go over well and policy only lasted 1 weekend....lol.

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4 hours ago, Abh159 said:

At my club we are currently full (300 memberships) with a 3+ year waitlist, and our average member age is <45 years old. They also recently informed us all that the initiation fees going forward were increasing by 100%, and the waitlist has continued to grow even with the price change. 

 

FWIW all of the other private clubs near me (10-15 approximately) also have multi-year waitlists full of people.

 

I think private clubs will be just fine for at least the next 5-10 years. After that, who knows....

 

 

This "transitory" inflation we are experiencing is being overlooked among other things that won't be equal or normal in 5-10 years. So, hard to say what anything will look like much less the golf industry. 

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