Questions to Ask When Joining a Country Club in Palm Springs

Nov 15, 2021 Valerie Roca

All country clubs in Coachella Valley aspire to be the “best,” but with nine cities sharing the same climate, amenities, and close proximity, how are you to decide which country club is best for you?

Choosing a country club is too big of a decision to use price as a guide. By the end of this article, you will be asking clubs the right questions to uncover important details needed to get the most out of your new country club lifestyle while avoiding hidden membership costs and fees. 


Country Club Memberships: Costs, Dues & Fees

Three types of memberships to consider when joining a country club are:

  • Resident Memberships
  • “Social” Memberships – Non-golfing membership for non-residents.
    • Not all country clubs offer social memberships.
    • Some clubs require an invitation for social membership.
    • Racquet sports memberships such as Tennis and pickleball
  • Golfing Memberships – Membership access to golf course facilities.
    • Social memberships are often required with golf memberships.

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The following charges are standard for all country club memberships in Coachella Valley:

  • Dues – Monthly or annual charges for the operational costs of maintenance, staffing, and upgrades.
    • Dues can vary depending on certain factors such as member age and family size.
    • Ask if dues are included in your HOA membership fees.
    • Ask if new membership requires a deposit on dues.
  • Initiation Fee – A one-time charge for joining a country club membership as a resident or non-resident.
    • If joining a country club as a new resident who needs a golf membership, there may be separate initiation fees, one for the resident membership, and another for the golfing membership.
    • You can ask if the initiation fees are payable in installments.
  • Capital Fee – A monthly or annual charge to fund capital projects either retroactively or ongoing. (capital expenditures).
  • Reserve Contributions – A charge for reserve funds that clubs use for budgeting large future projects.
    • Ask if a reserve contribution is itemized on a separate line or automatically included (to avoid hidden charges).

Determining how much a country club is going to cost – and, more importantly, if a club is worth joining or not – requires understanding more than basic membership fees. There are detailed questions you can ask to better assess the financial health of a country club, questions that will help determine if joining a specific country club will lead to unexpected membership costs later on.


Questions to Assess the Financial Health of Country Clubs

The best country clubs supplement or fund capital expenditures by charging capital fees, reserve fees, or initiation fees. Larger projects, such as clubhouse renovations and sports court improvements, may require additional funding.

Ideally, funding for large projects should come from reserves. However, if a country club does not have enough funds in its reserves, then members are sometimes charged a one-time capital assessment fee.

In order to avoid being surprised by a capital assessment fee, ask a country club these questions before joining:

  • “When were your last operational and capital assessments implemented, and what data is available?”
  • “What was your most recent capital improvement, and how was it funded? Through reserves? Capital assessments? Or both?”

If the latest capital improvement was paid for by its members via a capital assessment instead of reserves, you’ll want to know – especially if there are high reserve contribution requirements.

The best country clubs in Coachella Valley will have a history of well-funded reserves and incremental operational assessment increases, reducing the overall likelihood of frequent capital assessments.

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Uncovering Hidden Country Club Membership Costs & Fees

Assessments aside, there are some additional membership fees and costs that can vary from club to club, so it is always helpful to understand what is included in the fees, and what is an additional charge.

Some questions to ask country clubs about hidden costs include:

  • Golf Carts – Country clubs sometimes charge a cart fee for every round of golf. However, this can be included in a monthly or annual charge.
    • If you own a cart, ask about obtaining a cart license or an annual trail fee.
  • Waiting Period Fees – Some country clubs charge a fee to reserve your place on the waiting list.
    • If a country club charges a waiting period fee, find out if it is a flat fee or annual, and if it is refundable, transferable or applicable to joining costs
  • Fitness Classes – Sometimes fitness classes are not included with membership dues.
  • Storage – Cart, bag, and locker storage is typically an additional cost.


Questions to Ask About Resignation and Transferring a Country Club Membership

Resigning or transferring your membership is probably not what you’re thinking about when joining a country club, and that’s precisely why you should pay particular attention to these two policies.

  • Resignation – What is required to resign? Is written notice enough? Is there a waiting list of members who need to resign before you can? What fees are associated with resignation?
  • Transfer of Membership – Are there any fees associated with transferring a membership, and can these fees be waived with an upgraded membership plan?  


Questions to Ask About Programming

Choose a country club that has the best programming for your needs. Some country clubs are family-oriented, while others are ideal for retirees, traveling professionals or corporate members. The more questions you ask about the programs, the more you’ll learn about the type of lifestyle a country club offers.

Ask a country club questions about:

  • Intro Clinics – Will golf professionals help improve your swing? What kind of basic skills are taught? Do they ever demonstrate new golf equipment and technology?
  • Activities – What court activities are offered? Do many children live at the club, and if so, what types of family activities are provided to better accommodate them?
  • Dining – How many days and nights are dining services provided for members?


Questions to Ask Country Clubs About “Fitting In”

Asking a country club about your specific interests is always a great idea before joining. Country clubs have many small social groups and other niche activities that are oftentimes not listed on promotional materials. It’s not just bocce and pickleball (although there is plenty of that)!  

Be sure to ask country clubs questions about:

  • Onboarding – Are there any special programs for new members to get orientated?
  • Calendars – Can you see all of the planned events to get a better sense of the social community?
  • Club List – Can you ask for a list of social clubs to quickly find someplace you belong?   
  • Unlisted Events – What are some smaller social activities and upcoming club events?


Still Have Questions to Ask Country Clubs Before Joining?

If you have more questions to ask about the costs associated with joining a country club, or just want to know what to expect, our free Membership Discovery Guide covers everything you need to ask when joining a country club, including questions not covered in this article.




Get Your Membership Discovery Guide

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