What Know Before Joining a Golf Club

what to know before joining a golf club

By Bradley Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction – MBA, PGA

If you have become addicted to golf over the last few years, get in line with everyone else. Golf has enjoyed a resurgence, with more rounds of golf played in 2021 than ever before. An estimated record 529 million rounds of golf were played last year. Thus far, in 2022, participation and rounds played continue to show positive signs for the golf industry. Many private golf facilities that have struggled for years with building a sustainable membership now enjoy a waiting list of potential new members. Before you join a private country club and pay the substantial initiation fees, take your time and analyze some key aspects of membership at a private club. This article will provide some practical guidance to ensure that the golf club you join will fit your unique needs as a golfer.

Why Do You Want to Join a Golf Club?

I have met a few golfers in my career whom the golf bug has bitten and compulsively spend money on new golf clubs, golf lessons, and membership dues, only to find out that maybe golf isn’t for them after all. Time, work, and family commitments can interrupt the intentions of the most addicted golfer, and suddenly, they are unable to use the club as they expected. I am sure you will evaluate the wonderful benefits of joining a private club. Still, it would help if you also considered digging through the many negatives and risks involved in this decision. Let us look at some of the critical factors in your decision process.

The Golf Course

The golf course is the core product offering at any private country club. Have you thought about the type of golf course you enjoy playing? How important is the golf course playing conditions for you? Remember that this will be the golf course where you play the lion’s share of the time, so I advise you to choose your golf course wisely. Once you join any private club, the golf excursions to destination facilities may no longer be in your golf plans. Monthly dues with golf cart fees can easily surpass $500. If the cost is not a vital issue for you, then it is not a problem. But if you are on the financial fence about analyzing the playing benefits of a private club, you should calculate the number of rounds you plan to play each month. If you plan on playing once or twice a week, remember that $500 a month can go a long way in paying for a cart and green fee at many area public courses. If you love the golf course and plan to play a lot more golf, joining a private golf club is probably a good decision.

Membership Culture

Every private club will have an established culture that may or may not match well with your perception of what a club should be like. This is a crucial aspect in your decision to understand the social and behavioral aspects of the club members. To connect with other members, which is usually a goal of most golfers, investigate the men’s and women’s tournament programs and social events. Try to understand the underlying expectations of the membership and make sure that the club culture fits your expectations of becoming a dues-paying club member.

Club Amenities

Many private clubs provide more benefits than just the golf course for their membership. You should consider all the club amenities and determine how important they are to your enjoyment of the club. Do you need to consider others besides yourself in this decision process? Is a spouse going to be playing golf as well? What about young children? Do they have plenty of activities for these important family members?  Does your family want to enjoy other amenities besides golf, such as the swimming pool, tennis courts, or the latest craze for private clubs…pickleball? Are you a foodie who enjoys dining out? If so, does the food and beverage operation provide the quality and consistency to keep you returning for more? Is there a fitness center? What is the practice facility like, and do they offer members a quality golf improvement program? Although the golf course is the primary product to consider, the club’s additional benefits and services should also be evaluated.

Future of the Club – Asset Management

Understanding the club’s financial strength can be challenging for many potential private club members. It would help if you looked for signs of deferred maintenance of the golf course, clubhouse, and any other amenities included in the membership. Deferred maintenance is problems or issues with the club assets that have not been fixed or improved. There are generally two reasons we see deferred maintenance at private clubs. The first is the lack of financial resources to fix problems when they arise. You want to spot areas at the facility that do not meet your standards. When playing the golf course, look at the golf course conditions. What are the conditions of the sand bunkers? Are they well-kept, with plenty of sand in all the bunkers? What are the conditions of the fleet of golf carts? How well maintained are the cart paths? Does the club swimming pool need any repair work? Are the tennis courts in good playing condition? What is the overall condition of the clubhouse? It would help if you were not afraid to identify as many potential issues as possible and then bring them up with the appropriate membership personnel. This is one of the most important aspects of joining a private club because you do not want to be surprised with a year-end assessment of a few thousand dollars to cover the cost of unexpected clubhouse improvements.

Due diligence in your search for the perfect golf club is not always fun but is an essential process. Membership at a private golf club can often become an important piece of a golfer’s lifestyle, providing years of enjoyment, rewarding friendships, and connection to a community of golfers.


If you’d like to study with Bradley Turner and other PGA Master Professionals, contact the College of Golf today.

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