How Country Clubs Work: What You Should Know Before Joining One

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How Country Clubs Work: What You Should Know Before Joining One

Perhaps you've watched a lot of movies featuring characters who belong to country clubs, but you've never actually been to one yourself. In that case, you may feel that you have a decent idea what clubs are all about, but you're rather fuzzy on the details.

For those content to keep watching on-screen characters enjoy the country club life, that's probably good enough. However, if you are considering taking the plunge into membership, you'd better first learn a little more about what that entails. The following guide to how country clubs work will help to get you started.

What Is a Country Club?

A private country club is a membership organization for golf, recreation and social activities. Clubs often boast expansive facilities with top-rate golf courses, dining options, pro shops and more.

Some organizations bill themselves as country clubs. Others refer to themselves as golf clubs. Is there a difference? Although the terms are largely interchangeable, as a general rule, a golf club's main focus is golf while a country club offers a broader range of programs or facilities.

What Are the Costs?

Because a country club is a private organization, you must pay for the privilege of membership. The fees cover the costs of maintenance, upgrades and staffing for the facilities and allow the club to offer activities and amenities to the members.

Initiation Fee

At most clubs, there is a one-time fee that you must pay in order to become a member. This initiation fee is often the largest lump sum that you will have to pay to the club. Some clubs refund this amount if you leave the club, but not all do.

Annual Dues

Unlike the initiation fee, to keep your membership in good standing, annual dues must be paid to the country club on a regular basis. These typically range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month, but there are, of course, outliers on both ends of the spectrum.

Additional Charges

Many clubs have fees on top of the annual dues. For example, you may be required to spend a particular amount on-site every month, or you may have to pay for the use of lockers or carts. An additional fee to consider is an assessment, which is a larger fee that is levied in order to cover the cost of major expenses, such as renovations.

What Benefits Come with Membership?

Country club fees are not for naught. Rather, when you join a club, you'll be entitled to a wide range of benefits. Although you may not take advantage of all of them, some will surely appeal to you. Specific amenities vary, but there are some common ones that are included in membership at most clubs.

Golf Privileges

The top reason that many people join a country club is for the golf. Members usually have first access to tee times; at some clubs, they do not even have to book in advance. Thanks to membership dues and a heavy emphasis on quality, private clubs can have some of the best courses around.

Informed Instruction

Many country clubs employ golf pros who know all about the game and are trained to help others improve their skills. Joining a country club can give you access to their services.

Dining Facilities:

Country clubs often have a restaurant on-site. This can be a great place to grab a drink after a round of golf or bring the family for dinner.

Personal Service

There's nothing that can make you feel quite so good about yourself as clubhouse attendants who greet you with a smile and golf pros who know your name.

Clubhouse Use

Members may be able to rent the club facilities for private events, such as birthday parties or wedding receptions. Clubhouses also make excellent meeting locations, as you can see in the video below:

What Rules Are There?

Every organization has rules or guidelines, and a country club is no exception. When considering joining a club, it is a good idea to find out what the rules are and determine whether they mesh with your approach to golf and to life.

Country club rules may cover topics such as:

  • Dress Code: It is not unusual to have guidelines for what players can wear on the course.

  • Phone Use: Setting restrictions on phone use ensures that one player won't hold up a game to take a business call.

  • Gender Mixing: Some country clubs prohibit men and women from golfing or dining together. Others don't allow women at all.

  • Guests: There may be limits on how many guests you can bring and when you can bring them.

  • Business Talk: Although the club is sometimes a good place to network, many do not allow you to spend your time there trying to drum up business.

As you can see, many club rules serve to create a pleasant golfing environment. Some clubs, however, are still clinging to antiquated ideas about gender privilege. Make sure you know what kind of club you're getting into before you join.

Keep in mind, while many rules are explicit, some are an unwritten part of club culture. Through visits to the club and conversations with members, try to find out about both before you join.

How Can You Determine Whether Membership Is Right for You?

No two country clubs are exactly alike. Although you hopefully now have a better idea of how country clubs work, the only way to know for sure whether joining a local club is right for you is to spend time learning more about it.

You should consider:

  • Scheduling a visit to the club.

  • Talking to current or past members.

  • Asking about the application process and costs.

  • Reading the fine print to make sure you know the ins and outs of membership at that particular club.

The very best way to find out how country clubs work is to become a member yourself. Membership grants you access to the people, facilities and culture of the country club. Be sure to do your homework first, but when you find a club that is a good fit for you, all that's left to do is to sign up.
Posted: 4/3/2018 1:20:12 PM by Brian Curtin | with 0 comments

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