When deciding to join a country club, it is important to take into consideration whether it is a public club or a private club. The differences between the two can give you a completely different golfing experience. One may be a better fit for your lifestyle, depending on how you plan to utilize the club.
Private Country Club: The atmosphere at a private club is typically quite different than a public club. Members have to pay hefty membership initiation fees, followed by hefty annual membership fees. With these fees, members often expect a certain level of service and experiences. Clubs who have these additional fees to work with are able to provide an exceptional experience for their members. They also only offer a limited amount of memberships in order to grant their members ample use of the facilities, and some people may wait for years for an opening to become available so they can join.
Those who aren’t members of a private country club will seldom have the experience of playing on their courses unless they are a guest of a member. Many private clubs are surrounded by residential developments, and those who live in the developments are able to become members based on the fact they live in the country club development. The clubhouse often serves as a central location for such developments, where community events take place and where neighbors meet to socialize.
You’ll also find many amenities at private clubs that won’t be found at a public golf course, as membership fees help fund and maintain fitness areas, swimming pools, dining rooms and tennis facilities. Private country clubs are often a whole social experience in addition to the game of golf. Many consider them to be a home away from home, a place they go to relax or even use it as a place to conduct business meetings with associates over a game of golf or cocktail.
Semi-Private Clubs: Often found on resorts, but can be available in other places where the demographic for a private membership alone doesn’t exist, semi-private clubs offer a little of the best of both. While they have memberships available for premiere tee-times and priority access to club amenities, they also are able to offer their services either to the public, or those staying at the resort associated with their club.
Since many clubs have multiple clubhouses or more than one golf course, they may only open a portion of them to the public. They may also have blackout dates for when non-members can use the club. These clubs give non-members the country club experience that they may not otherwise have unless they are members.
Public or Municipal Courses: People who choose to utilize public courses are typically only interested in the golf aspect, as most public courses don’t offer the recreational and social amenities that country clubs do. They typically operate by having golfers play for each round that they play, and can range in quality depending on the price point of a game.
Many people who choose public courses do so in order to play at several different courses without being tied down to just one. It gives them the opportunity to play without the associated membership fees of a country club. They also tend to be more low key, with looser rules and guidelines for play, and have more players who are new to the game or are just out with their buddies for a little fun. It can be hard to play a serious round of golf at a public course, because many don’t have pace of play rules.