Private Country Clubs are by far the best place to experience quality golf. It is very rare for a private country club to not have at the very least a quality atmosphere for golf. Sometimes their golf courses are not in the best shape, or they maybe a little boring for the above average golfer, but on the most part, it is the relaxed atmosphere that encourages golfers to play more golf.
Private golf clubs are also the best place for a productive round of business golf.
However, at a private country club, you are paying for more than golf, so make sure the club is worth it and the value to you is a fit. If you are shopping around for a private country club here are a few things to consider.
I recommend asking your trusted golfing friends what they think of their private country club. If they are good friends they will lead you away from the clubs they know are having problems.
Make sure to do some due diligence to find out more about the club they recommend. Check out the website of the private clubs they recommend. Check reviews on the club and take the negative remarks with a grain of salt. If you are seeing a lot of negative reviews then ask your friends what they know of the club’s issues.
Avoid joining a club that is doing something wrong by checking out how they deal with their online presence. If they do not have a web-site that would be the first sign the club is far behind the times.
Location Is Everything
Sometimes the closest private country club is not the best golf club. However, driving 15 miles one way to play golf will eventually start you questioning the value of being a member. Make sure to pick a private country club convenient to your business and personal needs.
Remember the Family
Don’t forget the family when choosing a private country club. Keeping the spouse and kids happy helps makes for a better quality of life. Most private country clubs have a very refreshing pool during the summer and many are now offering day care so mom and dad can enjoy a round of golf or social time with friends.
You can find out most of all of the above information from reviewing their web-site. If this info is not on their web-site..add it to your list of questions to ask during your visit.
Timing Is Everything
Plan on making two visits to the country club before you make your decision. Make your first visit on a Weekend. Many clubs will attempt to get you to come visit them on a specific date which usually is the day they know everything will be near perfect. Visiting the club on a Saturday around lunch time will give you a chance to see how busy the club will be on what is normally the peak day of usage. It also will give you an idea what you will be dealing with when you visit the club on the weekend.
Then make your second visit during the week, or on the day you feel you will be using the club the most. This will give you the chance to see the club as it will be when you use the club’s facilities the most.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a few more things you need to consider before chunking down a wad of cash to become a member.
Drive Up Appeal
Picking a private country club is like choosing a home. Actually, if you play a lot of golf and have a family who is into having a place to go, you are going to spend a lot of time at the club so it will be like your second home.
The first thing I recommend to someone shopping for a private country club is to take a close look at the ‘Drive-Up Appeal’ of a country club. After all, to join a good private club you are going to make an investment almost the same as if you were buying a home. So make sure you enjoy how it looks from day one, because you are going to be seeing a lot of the club over time.
Potholed Parking Lots Spell Problems
Does the street, or road, to the entrance of the club have any character? Is the parking lot pothole free and organized so anywhere you park you are no more than 100 yds from the clubhouse? If either one of these answers is No..I suggest you keep driving. Many clubs struggling financially will skip on making needed repairs to things like the parking lot.
Having a boring drive-up appeal, with parking lot filled with potholes and every space requiring a shuttle bus to the clubhouse would make you NOT like being a member of that club. So, keep looking. If the drive in makes you feel pampered or special..which you are..then check this place out.
One of the things many private clubs will do to prop up their image is spend a lot of money making the drive up appeal for the club top quality, but then really drop the ball on the interior of the clubhouse. The first thing I suggest you do, once you get passed the receptionist, is to look at the ceiling. If the club has ceiling tiles or recessed ceiling you can bet the clubhouse has not been renovated in a very long time. Water stains on the ceiling also tell a sad story.
The smell is important as well. Old musty maybe ok for an antique store, but not for a clubhouse. Heavy smoke smell will also give you a hint of what maybe an issue.
Check Your Hearing
While you are waiting for the club’s representative to greet you, listen closely to what you hear. If the clubhouse is quiet with some soft music playing in the background then you can take it the club is thinking of it’s members need for a calming place to go. If you walk into the noise level of a train station with people talking real loud, low hums of air conditioners and rattles of pots and pans, you might have issues later when you are after a quiet place to go and relax. There is a place for noise at a private country club, but it is not in the clubhouse.
Catch Word Warnings
Listen carefully for key phrases you may hear during your tour. They will be subtle statements towards how the private club is run. Statements like..“we currently are in the member’s building”. This is telling you are is the only building the members of the club are entitled to use even though you will be paying for all of the buildings.
Usually, the main clubhouse area is deemed the ‘Clubhouse’ meaning it is rented out most of the time at inflated prices, even to members. Booking outside events is how the club raises needed revenue. This is OK since it shows your club is utilizing its resources. Make sure to ask on how many outside events the club books a month? These events will eventually take away from the experience.
Just be aware, if there is a ‘Member’s Building’ there is probably a larger building, or section of the building, not for Member’s everyday use. If you hear this statement, you may want to stop, and think over your decision to be a member. There will be an occasion sometime during your time there where you are going to want to have a birthday party, or some other informal function for a large number of people, and the small ‘Member’s Building’ will be all you have to use without paying additional costs. So think this over carefully.
The one thing that would start your tour off on the right foot is once you stop at the receptionist to announce your arrival you are immediately..I MEAN immediately..greeted by the Club Manager..not the director of membership. I have found the more quality minded private golf clubs have an outstanding club manager who is dedicated to knowing every member of his club. A club who throws a director of membership at you probably is only after your membership fees, so be aware of how you are treated from the very beginning.
Bar and Grill
I always found that seeing how the Bar and Grill area is set up and how it is run will tell how your experience will be at the club. The Bar and Grill is one of the more important amenities of a private country club. Even before you see the golf course or other areas of the club, if the bar and grill is a mess or not convenient then that will be as bad as the bad drive up appeal. The Bar and Grill is where you will entertain guest and, even if you do not drink, will be where you spent most of your time at the club.
Having a outgoing bartender greeting you every time you come in, even if you are not a member, will go a long way. The bartender can make your bad day on the golf course a lot better.
So make sure the bar and grill is top notch.
Before you go out on the golf course to see the course, make sure to stop by the pro-shop. Check out the size of the Pro-Chop. If the space for the pro-shop at the club is bigger than your house it usually is a sign the shop is not managed effectively and there usually will be no bargains to be had.
If the pro-shop can only hold three people then again, the club does not think much of it’s golfing members.
Make sure the pro-shop is comfortable…has a place to sit and try on shoes. Had all of the golf clubs you can think of along with all of the accessories. It is always good to see your favorite brand of golf attire being sold there.
A poorly managed pro-shop can tell a lot about how well the club is run.
Now I know many of you are wondering why I put off the review of the Golf Course so late. It really would not make any difference how good or bad the golf course is if the other parts of the clubhouse are not worth the value. I know many golfers will discount the clubhouse amenities because their focus is only golf. That focus usually only last a month until they get their bill and then they ask..what the heck am I paying for? This is when the rest of the club can become part of the misery of being a private country club member.
Most of the time, the golf courses at a private country club are going to be in great shape. If there is a time the golf course does not look good it usually will only be a matter of a year before the country club gets it back into shape. In the golf community the quality of a private golf course will be public knowledge so the golf issue usually is already settled before even considering becoming a member of the private golf club.
However, still..check out the golf course. I suggest you ask for a ride past the golf holes next to the clubhouse. Many none-golf club managers or club owners will only keep the holes next to the clubhouse spotless and let the rest of the course go. So, take a ride out on the golf course for two or three holes. Look at cart paths, brown spots in the fairways or old crumbling outhouses. All signs of a hurting golf course. Since this is where you will be spending most of your time it is important that the golf be what you expect.
A private country club with a good size practice facility close to the first tee is preferable. Having a driving range without a net is a plus. Make sure there are an ample amount of spaces on the driving range so everyone can hit a few balls. A short game and putting center is a plus.
The most important part of choosing the correct private country club has to be the attitudes of membership. It is hard to find out if there is a member moral problem until you join the club.. By then it is really too late. So take the time to stop and visit with a member. If there is a problem with the club the members are going to hint at the problem by saying little things when asked…how do you like the club? If they say..It’s OK..you might suspect there maybe an issue. Just make sure to listen to how the questions are answered. A member truly happy with the club is going to sell the club with their answer.
There are a number of other things you should ask during your visit. Like how many members do they currently have and what is the limit? If they are far below the target number it could indicate they are having troubles keeping members. If they are targeting a very large number to reach their limit it would mean a very crowded club.
So, think on your feet. What is it you expect from a country club and make sure those expectations are met.
Remember, being a member of a private country club can be a wonderful life long experience..that is if you choose the right one for you. Let me know how I can help.