If you want to be a member of the top 1% of America’s country clubs, you will need to do more than own a set of Ping Zing II’s. Most top tier country clubs are highly selective in their membership and have a process of enrollment that can be bizarre.
If you want in, you will have to jump through some hoops. We have compiled this guide to showcase some the things potential members will have to do to be considered for membership in America’s most prestigious country clubs.
We can’t guarantee membership, but with the help of this guide, you will be able to see if the club of your choice is a good fit and what you need to be prepared for.
Augusta National Golf Club
Home to the Masters Tournament you probably won’t become a member. As harsh as it sounds, the club has a limited member list (around 300) and a hefty annual fee (reports range from 50,000 US to 500,000 US).
The saying around Augusta is “if you have to ask, you’re not allowed.” This is because membership to Augusta is by invitation only. You must be nominated by a current member and then once approved you are placed on a waiting list. At the time of this writing, the waiting list is around 300 people.
Caddy’s at the club leaked information about the membership process of the dominantly male club. In a 2002 USA Today reported on the club, and its members. One of the caddy’s reported that a member liked to walk his dog on the course in the morning until he was told he couldn’t do that because “the dog wasn’t a member.” Reportedly, the member then paid guest fees for his dog and was allowed on the course.
You can play the course though. If you are friends with a current member, they can invite you to play. Each member can have 4 friends at any time. So if you are as lucky as a dog, you might be able to step foot on the greens with the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Condoleezza Rice.
Seminole Golf Club
Even more exclusive is the Seminole Golf Club in Florida. This club is so exclusive that legendary pro golfer Jack Nicklaus was turned down for membership. No one in the club is talking. However, it is reported that you must take on some serious hurdles to be a member.
What exactly those hurdles remain in-club only. We aren’t even sure if this men’s-only club has 150 members or 300 members. The don’t host any PGA tournaments and are tight-lipped about every aspect of their green fees.
Doing any internet research will yield little else than articles and stories talking about what they don’t know about the club. Strange as it may be, the golf is worth it. The course is a typical beautiful Florida style course right on the Atlantic Ocean.
Big Horn Golf Club
Big Horn is in a residential area of Palm Desert, California. This means you must own property there to be considered for membership. On top of that, you must pay membership fees that average about $325,000 for initial membership and $15,000 annually.
Top members include Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and late, great, Payne Stewart.
If you are in the area and have the cash laying around, it is highly worth buying the property to be a member. Not that any is for sale, but you just never know. Membership has its privileges though, and this course does not disappoint. Except, of course, for not letting you in if you aren’t a member.
Aside from the extremely exclusive clubs, the top percentile of country clubs will be by invitation only. You will have to know, or get to know, someone that is currently a member and have them nominate you.
Country clubs like to brag about their members as much as their members like to brag about the club. The more ammunition you give them to fire off about you, the better your chances of becoming a member.
Once you have made the short list, the membership criteria will change based on the course. The first thing will always be the money. Initiation fees as well as upkeep, annual and sometimes even monthly fees are required.
Pony up the dough and you are on to the next steps. This can include pretty much anything the club owners want, but in general, you just need to prove you belong there.
Some clubs will require a handicap, for example. Provide the proof you are better than their worst, and you could be accepted.
You must also agree to certain things golf-related, such as dress code and cleat selection.
It is Worth It
All in all, timing and who you know are the major keys to gaining admittance into these elite clubs. However, if you are patient and follow all the rules, you will be admitted before you know it.
And you will have the clout. Being able to say you belong to one of America’s most prestigious golf clubs is more than just bragging rights. Being able to play when you want is a great feeling. Being a member of a country club also means you are accepted into a tight-knit circle of like-minded individuals.
Friendship aside, the golf is fantastic. The courses will be some of the best manicured and cared for courses you will ever step foot on. Not to mention the tournaments and ProAm events they may host.
You can easily play a round with a celebrity or pro golfer any day of the week and be able to add that to your photo albums.
When the hoops are jumped through, the membership approved and you take that first swing of the club on a crisp Sunday morning, you will know that is was all worth it.