Whether you are an avid golfer looking to level up your game or a recent retiree or empty nester who is looking to start or return to the game now that you’ve got more time on your hands, a golf club membership can be a great way to meet new people, improve your skills and have access to some truly beautiful courses.
Golf club memberships offer a range of amenities, from top-notch golf courses to luxurious clubhouses. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to know which membership is right for you, and challenging to make sense of why costs differ so drastically from club to club. In this guide, we'll break down everything you need to know about golf club memberships so you can make an informed decision and start enjoying the ultimate golf lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
6 Things to Consider When Researching Golf Club Memberships
Size of the Club
The size of the club is probably the first and perhaps most obvious factor when comparing golf club memberships. Large clubs often boast more amenities and a more bustling social scene, whereas smaller clubs usually have fewer amenities and a more intimate social scene. Although it may be counter-intuitive, larger clubs can actually be less expensive because there are more members to split the capital and operational costs.
Caliber of Amenities
The next consideration is the caliber of amenities. Many golf clubs will offer members access to a fitness center, spa, clubhouse, and one or more restaurants. Are these amenities top-of-the-line? Or are they more middle-of-the-road? If you’re looking for white tablecloths and five-star service, it’s worth really exploring the level of quality that each club offers when it comes to amenities.
Of course, the caliber of amenities isn’t limited to the non-golf activities either - the course itself, the staff, and the number of leagues and tournaments should also be considered. For exclusively golf-focused clubs you’ll want to really hone in on the maintenance of greens, the quality of clinics, the number of golf staff, and their qualifications and experience.
Aging vs. Newly Renovated Facilities
Golf clubs come in all ages and stages. From slightly dated, to recently renovated to built in the last ten years, the age and current state of the facility is an important factor when choosing a golf club membership. After all, members are asked to pay for renovations and repairs, so understanding what projects the club has recently completed and what might be on the horizon is important as past projects can impact assessments and upcoming projects can affect member’s access to amenities and impact the experience of club membership.
Dues Allocation vs. Initiation Fee Allocation
Next, it’s important to understand both dues allocation and initiation fee allocation. Dues allocation refers to the portion of your membership fees that go toward the club's operating expenses, such as employee salaries and facility maintenance. Initiation fee allocation, on the other hand, refers to the portion of your fees that go toward capital improvements, such as building renovations or new construction. The age and size of the club can directly affect both of these fees.
Once you have a short list of potential golf club memberships, it’s vital to inquire about reserve funding. This refers to the amount of money the club has set aside for future capital expenses, such as equipment upgrades or major repairs. A club with a healthy reserve fund is better equipped to handle unexpected expenses and ensure the longevity of its facilities.
Operational vs. Capital Assessments
At many clubs, these two assessments can come up unexpectedly, so you may as well ask about them before joining. Operational assessments are fees charged on an ongoing basis – usually annually – to cover the club's operating expenses. Capital assessments, on the other hand, are one-time or ongoing fees charged to cover the cost of major capital improvements. This expense can also be presented as a ‘debt assessment’ if it is used to pay back a loan from an already completed project.
Understanding Golf Club Membership Costs
The age, caliber, size, and amenities of a golf club all impact membership costs, which is why the rates can vary so widely. Understanding these different factors and their impact on price is valuable as you begin your search for the right golf club membership.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the wonderful amenities, bustling social scene, and pristine greens that many clubs provide – don’t forget to ask about upfront fees vs. ongoing fees, reserve funding, and operational vs. capital assessments to avoid unexpected expenses, get a clear picture of the required investment and to make sure the club is financially sound.
Choosing the right golf club membership requires careful consideration of a range of factors, from the size and caliber of amenities offered to the club's financial health. By keeping these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision and enjoy all the benefits that come with a high-quality golf club membership.
In an area saturated with golf and country clubs nearly as far as the eye can see, The Springs in Rancho Mirage, California offers members an exceptional golfing experience at a value-driven price. Our golf club memberships are available for residents and non-residents alike, and give members access to an 18-hole Desmond Muirhead Signature course, a 30-tee driving range, plus a short game area and putting green. Widely regarded as one of the friendliest clubs in Coachella Valley, The Springs takes golf seriously, but not too seriously.
Learn more about golf memberships at The Springs via our Membership Discovery Guide, a comprehensive guide to life at The Springs.