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Difference of Private and Public Country Clubs

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.

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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.

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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.

Teaching Pros for Your Learning Style

When choosing to join a golf club as a beginner, it is important to choose a place that is fitting to the individual needs. With so many different offerings available, be sure to find a club that is willing to teach at your level. Clubs of all types exist, some filled with golfers who have been playing for decades, and they just celebrated their youngest member’s 70th birthday, while others are filled with young families who want to introduce their child to the sport at a young age.

If you are just learning to golf, be sure to find a place with a variety of teachers. Some pros specialize in teaching women, while others have a knack for teaching children. As your skills progress, you’ll want to make sure there are teachers who can help you at every level. There are constant ways to learn the sport, and different ways to teach different people, so it is important to find someone you are comfortable with and someone who helps you to improve.

Before joining the club, see if the club is able to offer a trial lesson with one of the pros, or see if you can talk to them about their teaching style. You may find that you love the club, but if they aren’t able to offer someone to help you learn that fits your needs, then it isn’t the right match for you. Feeling comfortable with the teaching pro is going to make a huge difference in your ability to learn, and how much you learn to like the sport.

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If you have children, you want to make sure the pro is experience in teaching in their age range. It takes a different teaching style to work with youngsters. Women also play golf differently than men, so if you are a woman who wants to learn to improve your golf game, make sure that they have either female pros or pros who have taught women before.

It’s also important to see what kind of practice facilities they offer. Do they charge for use of the driving range? What about the putting green? Some driving ranges charge by the ball, while others include the use of the range in their membership package. Practice facilities are one of the most important parts of learning to play and love the sport, because there is no stress of pace of play, and you can just hit balls to your heart’s desire.

Be sure to find out how strict the pace of play rules are, or if there is a slow time you’re able to play at your own pace. For a beginner, it is hard enough to play a decent round, compounded with the stress of a ticking clock can take away the fun of the game. As you improve, you’ll appreciate the pace of play rules, but until that time flexibility is nice. If not, be prepared to have many unfinished holes, but know that with time this will improve.

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Finding the right golf professional to teach you the game of golf makes all the difference in the appreciation of the game. It is a game that requires constant improvement, and learning to ways to keep the game interesting and fresh. There are many different types of teaching professionals out there, so find one that you’re comfortable with, and who is willing to work with whatever specific criteria you have, and then join the club where they work. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll be out soaking up the sun on the golf course in no time.

The Social Aspect of a Golf Country Club

Stereotypically, golf clubs are stuffy places with dress codes and strict rules where people play a round of gold and then enjoy a stiff drink or two in the club bar afterwards. The times are changing in the world of country clubs as they become not only golf clubs, but sports clubs and social clubs. When considering joining a country club, look into what type of social activities they offer, both golf related and not.

Clubs, now more than ever, want to offer their members more than just a place to play golf. Clubs want to be a place where their members can go to relax, socialize with friends, and have a good time in addition to playing golf and other sports. These are all the parts that add value to becoming a member of a country club, and can be an important part of the decision making process when choosing which club to join.

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Look for clubs that offer special golf tournaments, invitationals, men, women’s or junior’s leagues. Some places have twilight leagues, or weekly shotgun start tournaments. Some places have monthly pools, or clinics for improving long stroke. New to the game of golf is glow golf, which lets people play golf at night in an easygoing game. Some places have a hole in one lottery where the club restaurant throws a party every time someone gets a hole in one, funded by a small fund that golf members contribute to each quarter. These added events add interest and a social aspect to an otherwise age old game.

Country clubs typically host several social events throughout the year, from brunches, to children’s campouts on the course, to adult only cocktail parties. Live music or bands are a common fun social event that brings together members of all ages. If there is a pool, look for pool parties for the kids, or ladies fitness nights. There is no shortage of social events that clubs can host.

Look for a place that has a men’s only lounge if relaxing with a scotch and cigar every once in awhile is a priority. If massage and facials are more of a desire, look for a place with a spa for relaxation. Some places offer adults only lounges, for members who are of legal drinking age, or card rooms for boardgames and card tournaments. Some places are now offering cyber lounges where members can grab a cup of coffee while surfing the net.

Surprising Amenities Your Golf Club May Offer

Golf clubs aren’t just golf anymore. They are leisure clubs, sports clubs, recreation clubs and social clubs. When you join a club, you may be getting a lot more than access to a place to play golf. When you join a club, you become a part of a community brought together by similar interests and passions.

Social Events: Many clubs host special events throughout the year, catered towards the differing interests of members. The golf department may have Member-Guest Invitationals, or Ladies nights. They may also host special holiday brunches, live music, golf course campouts for the kids, glow golf tournaments, or comedy or casino nights.

Fitness: Most golf clubs have the added benefit of fitness centers and gyms with flexible hours so members can access them at their convenience. They also typically offer a variety of classes, for teenagers to retirees, all specifically tailored to the learning type and capabilities of their members. Utilizing the fitness center at your golf club will help ensure you’re ready for anything the club may offer.

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Aquatics: From swim teams to swim lessons, having a pool at the club adds a different element of fitness to your routine. From starting off the little ones with tot swimming lessons, or an adult looking for a low impact but high resistance workout, swimming is an excellent added amenity. Aside from swim lessons, some clubs may even offer aqua aerobics or water Zumba classes, for a new twist on your normal workout.

Dining: After a game of golf, there is nothing like sitting back with a cocktail to reflect on your round. Throw in a dinner after a particularly good game, and you’ll be pretty happy. Many clubs require members to spend a certain amount of money on club dining each month, quarter, or year. This helps keep the Dining Room up and running. Look for variety, some places have snack carts on the course, casual or family dining rooms, men’s only, adults only, and formal options.

Spa services: When you need to take some time to pamper yourself, utilizing your club’s spa services is a great way to do it in a place you’re already comfortable. Some offer women’s only spas, others are mixed, and can provide their members with a variety of spa services, including massage, skin care, nail care and some even hair care. Even if your club doesn’t offer full on spa services, they may provide saunas or steam rooms in the locker room as an additional way to relax and rejuvenate.

Tennis & Racquet Sports: Indoor and outdoor tennis courts are a huge added value to a golf club membership. Indoor courts, as well as squash, racquetball and pickleball are all great year-round options to keep your membership valuable even if you live in an area when the golf course may close for the winter. These are all great sports to keep you active and in shape for golf season.

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Vehicle Detailing: Believe it or not, some clubs with valet service also offer vehicle detailing and washing. Clubs cater to what their members want and need, so if they see a population of their members needing the service, they’ll be happy to offer it. That way, while you’re off relaxing or playing a round, you come back to a spotless car. Now how’s that for service?

Childcare: Clubs recognize that it won’t always be easy to utilize many of their amenities if you have little ones in tow, so they offer childcare services. Many also offer kid’s clubs or game rooms where kids can have a good time while their parents are off doing adult things.

Keeping Up with Country Club Technology

With technology constantly evolving, there are few things untouched by it, and golf clubs are no exception. While many clubs are rooted in tradition, often dating back for decades, and have the lifestyle to go with it, making sure they stay current with technology makes things easier and keeps the next generation of members interested in joining. Not only will it add to your experience in the clubhouse, but it can also improve your golf game with just a little information provided by a device that picks up on things that you may not have been able to with a bare eye.

Mobile Apps: Many country clubs are offering mobile apps for their websites. Not only do mobile apps for your club make it easy to stay abreast of what’s happening around the club, but they allow you to reserve a tee time, order lunch as you finish up your game so it’s waiting when you finish, and much more. Clubs can ping members with specials going on as they arrive in the vicinity of the clubhouse. You can also reserve a massage on the go, keep your scorecard on the mobile device, and even update your GHIN score. Tennis ball machines even have the technology to be controlled by a smart phone.

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Cyber Lounges: Because clubhouses have become such social hubs, it’s important that they stay current with modern technology. Wi-fi is a must nearly everywhere, and many members utilize their club as a place to go to conduct business or school work. Some clubs are even going so far to create cyber lounges with coffee shops similar to the feeling of going to a Starbucks for the afternoon. It isn’t the traditional country club atmosphere, but as people’s expectations and desires change, clubs have to stay current.

State of the Art Sound: Many clubs offer ballrooms and business meeting space. As technology advances, they are installing the best sound systems, that are often controlled remotely from a mobile device. Not only sound, but lights, screens and even calling for assistance can be done quickly and easily at the press of a button on a tablet or by using an app on a smart phone. This takes the experience for social events and meetings to an entirely different level.

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Golf Simulators: One way to make sure that members have access to golf no matter the weather, are golf simulators. The technology for these devices is constantly evolving, giving users a much better experiences that are much more realistic and accurate than they had been in the past. Some of the higher quality simulators can even help analyze your swing, and offer ways to improve based on the data they received during a game. These simulators can also receive software updates to add new courses to the list of options, so you continually can have a variety of places to play.

Golf Devices: Look for a Pro Shop that not only carries, but is immensely knowledgeable about the many gadgets that can improve your game thanks to technology. There is no shortage of technological advancements to the game of golf. Swing analyzers that are attached to your golf club use Bluetooth to communicate with an app on your smart phone to provide valuable feedback regarding each swing you take. Digital tracking works with a smart phone to map out your entire game, keeping track of your score and what type of clubs you used.  Even laser rangefinders can completely change the game. Having a golf professional who can teach you to use these devices will make a huge difference with your game.

Golfing in the Off Season

For many areas of the country, golfing is a seasonal sport, and half the year the course may just be buried under feet of snow. But just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you have to hang up your clubs for the season. Look for a club that can offer you amenities in the off season to help keep your game in tune. Not only is it good for your game, but it keeps things interesting and gives you something to look forward to during the colder months when it is easy to stay sedentary.

Indoor golf simulator: Look for a club that has an indoor golf simulator option for the winter months. Some clubs include use of such a device with their memberships, while others provide it an an added cost. This can depend on whether the club owns the simulator or leases it. With an owned simulator, fees may be minimal or nonexistent, whereas with a leased one the club can negotiate to always have the newest technology.

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The fun part about using a golf simulator is that you can typically choose from playing your game on one of several courses. You can simulate playing at a tropical paradise you only ever dreamed of visiting otherwise, all while you’re buried under feet of snow. That way each round you play all winter can be at a different course, which adds a little variety to your game.

The machine also calculates your swing which is great for helping you to fine tune your game. This makes it a great teaching and practice tool all year round. They are usually fairly accurate so they provide useful feedback for each swing and game.

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Some courses are fortunate enough to offer their members an indoor drive by range in the winter. This can range from a large space using special balls to simulate yardage, or smaller facilities may offer just a simple practice net so you can work on your swing.

Indoor putting green: Keep your putts in practice by utilizing the indoor putting green. Because putting is typically done in a fairly small space, many clubs are able to offer an indoor putting green. Short strokes are just as important, if not more important, than than long drives. Some companies even make versions of this that you can use in your own home and store away when you aren’t using. This can be a great way to work on an often overlooked part of the game.

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Winter Fitness Options: If your clubs has a fitness center or a gym, talk with the personal trainers about golf strengthening exercises you can use during the winter to help keep your muscles strong and ready to play once the course opens again. There are many different ways to keep fit all throughout the year even if you aren’t constantly able to play a full 18 holes of golf. Some fitness centers at golf courses even offer golf fitness classes to help keep their members in top shape for their round of golf.

Reciprocal Golf Courses: When all else fails, look for a golf club that offers reciprocity at other golf courses… Preferably ones that don’t have to worry about foul weather. That way when the snow flies, so can you. Straight to warmer weather and a change of scenery when it comes to your golf course. Some clubs are part of a network of clubs that offer discounts or seasonal memberships at sister courses. Before joining a club, check to see which, if any of these amenities they offer to help make your decision.

Things to Consider Before Joining a Country Club

When joining your local country club, there are several aspects to consider before deciding. Different clubs offer different amenities, so it is important to find one that will fit your particular lifestyle. If you plan on only playing golf, look for a place that doesn’t have any other bells and whistles so you know your membership fees will be going directly to a part you’ll be using. If your family wants to be involved in the club, look for childcare services or summer camps for the kids. If your wife is an avid reader, see if the club offers a book club. There are endless options for club amenities.

How will you use the club? If you’re planning on solely using your country club membership as a golf club, look for a membership that matches those criteria. If you’re looking for it to be a place to hang out and relax, see what type of leisure activities are offered. Many clubs offer fitness centers, which can eliminate your need for an additional gym membership elsewhere. Others offer tennis, racquet sports, aquatics and many other sports.

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will you use the club? Consider how often you will use the club. If you’ll be going there each Friday for dinner, in addition to your Sunday morning golf game, look for a place with a great dining room. Ask if you can try a meal there before joining. If you’ll be using it for your daily workout, make sure their open hours correlate with what time of day you plan on exercising. If you’ll only be playing golf in the summer, and otherwise not using the club, see if the club offers a seasonal membership.

 

What amenities are available? Be sure to check out what amenities the club offers and see which ones you would utilize. Many clubs offer tons of different amenities you may not have even thought would exist. Some offer gentlemen’s cigar lounges, spas for the ladies, tennis, racquetball, squash, daycare, chess clubs, weekly golf tournaments, indoor golf simulator, and some will even have vehicle detailing services! Look to see which options you would utilize and use this to help you decide which club is the right one for you.

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Does the club’s personality match yours? Country clubs traditionally are very formal with strict dress codes and expected behavior for their members. If you’re more of a laid back person, considering finding a family friendly club that may have relaxed guidelines as people veer away from the strict guidelines. Or if you like both options, some places will have both a formal and casual dining room which gives you the power to decide how dressed up you want to be for dinner. If you’re old school, look for a club with traditional rules. If you’re eco-friendly, find a place that is conscious about what chemicals they use to treat the golf course and cleaning the clubhouse.

Do they offer lessons to help you best utilize the club? So your club offers tennis, but the closest you’ve been to a tennis court was your ping pong table at your cousin’s house as a kid. How are the tennis pros? Do they offer different lesson types so you can learn the sport and utilize all of the different parts of your membership. The same can be said about any sport the club offers, from aquatics to skeet shooting. Look for a talented team of professionals who are dedicated to teaching their members a new sport or brushing them up on existing skills.