Joining a country club comes with many benefits like introducing you to new friends and offering the chance to enjoy your favorite activities with old ones. It can also help you expand your professional network by exposing you to potential clients and influential peers in your industry. For families, it’s often the setting for many happy memories.
Even so, country club membership takes a significant financial commitment. Before joining one, make sure it’s the right club for you by considering these important factors.
Although golf, tennis and swimming are almost universally offered at country clubs, ask about their full range of activities to make sure they suit all your goals and interests. For example, does the one you’re considering have tennis leagues matching your skill and desired competition level? Or if you prefer pickleball, find out if it has courts and leagues for this activity.
Requesting a copy of the club’s social calendar allows you to see what non-sporting activities it offers each month and throughout the year, such as Fourth of July and New Years celebrations.
When touring a club, note the age and condition of its clubhouse, other buildings and grounds. How many pools does it have and are there comfortable lounge chairs and umbrellas surrounding them? Does the fitness center feature state-of-the-art equipment? Are there attractive ballrooms and smaller spaces that members can rent for special occasions, such as a wedding or a milestone anniversary party?
If golf is the main reason you’re joining a country club, find out about the course designer and request a preview round to test the greens first-hand. And don’t forget to ask these important questions:
- What days and times will the course be available to you?
- What is the tee time reservation process?
- Are caddies required?
- Is the course walk-only or cart-only?
3. Pros and Other Staff
Who the club has on staff tells you a lot about how much it values its members’ experience. The reputations of the head and assistant golf and tennis pros are an especially important factor for those who want to improve their game or are seeking quality instruction for their kids. Likewise, the enthusiasm and creativity of the activities director ensures a social calendar full of a wide range of appealing experiences for every member of your family.
Additionally, check to see if the club invests in a dedicated facilities crew to keep the clubhouse, greens, courts and pools in top-notch shape. If healthy habits like regular workouts are a priority for you, it’s good to know that experienced personal trainers are on staff in the fitness center.
Speaking of important staff members, who is in charge of the food? Find out who the head chef is, where they’ve previously worked and what kind of cuisine is their specialty. And consider that you’ll likely want a variety of dining options that includes a snack café near the pool, an eatery for lunches and casual dinners and an upscale dining room for more formal meals.
In addition to monthly and annual activities, find out if the club hosts special events. Does it sponsor pro golf or tennis tournaments, and who’s participated in them in the past? Do these events attract the best in the sport? Do members get special access to these events, such as prime tickets, pro-am preliminary rounds and/or social gatherings where they can mingle with the pros?
To make the financial commitment worth it, you have to spend a significant amount of time at the club, which means interacting with other members. So, you might want to consider if you have close friends, neighbors or colleagues who already belong. These are also the people who can give you a firsthand review of the club. Ask them about what they like and don’t like about being a member.
7. Membership Application and Dues
The application process varies by club. Some require one or more members sponsor your application, whereas others have an open process. You’ll need to factor that into your decision about applying.
You also need to understand the full financial commitment of membership. Beyond the initiation fee and monthly dues, determine if any of the following apply:
- A minimum amount that must be spent on dining per month or quarter
- The cost of a member’s round of golf
- Locker fees
- Club or equipment storage fees
- Service charges and gratuities
- The potential for required future contributions to help pay for renovations to club facilities
8. Rules and Regulations
Most clubs have a list of regulations that members must follow. This typically relates to things like attire, pets, interaction with club staff, smoking and drinking in designated areas, parking and traffic patterns, individual sport rules, leaving children under a certain age unattended and bringing guests to the club. Review the list of rules and find out what the consequences of violating them are before you join.
Final consideration, is the club close enough to your home and/or work? You want it to be convenient to drop in any time, even if you only have a few minutes for a quick bite, an early morning workout or 30 minutes on the driving range.