There are no shortages of amazing opportunities to join a private gold club in the area that we live in. Ruby Hill, Castlewood, Blackhawk and Diablo just to name a few. While each club offers their own unique experience, there are uniform policies, prices and practices to consider before you choose whether to join.
Initiation Fees: This is the initial cost to gain access to the club. Such fees will vary over time based on economic factors of the club (e.g. capacity rate, operating income, cash flow, etc.). You may pay a $5,000 initiation fee while five years later a new member may get in at a bargain for just $1,500.
Monthly Dues: After you pay the initiation fee, then there will be a minimum monthly payment in order to ensure that the club has a consistent monthly cash flow to cover operating expenses (and hopefully turn a profit). Monthly dues will vary from one club to another so it is important to inquire as to the exact charges so that the new monthly bill will fit within your budget.
Minimums: This is a minimum monthly spend on food or in the golf shop, for example, may also be required of each member. Sometimes these minimums will supplement monthly dues but the “use it or lose it” approach with minimums ensures that the club is generating consistent revenue on a monthly basis.
Separation Policy: Eventually there may come a time for you to leave the private golf club, but doing so may present some challenges. At some clubs, you just stop paying your dues and you are done. For others, you may not be able to officially leave until a new member is found to replace you. Make sure to check out the separation policy when you sign up so that there are no big surprises later.
In addition to these primary factors to learn more about there are other (deeper) factors to consider:
- Is the club equity, non-equity or for profit
- The process of joining-sponsored by current member, letters, etc.
- Kid programs
- Cash or non-cash club and tipping policies
- Guest rules
- Extra services-Social, lessons, food, tournaments, etc.
The best overall advice is to do a little homework and construct a comprehensive list of questions before going in to meet with a potential sales-person. It is very easy to get blinded once on property and faced with a salesperson leaving you with all your unanswered questions looming under your financial investment.