A Perspective on Golf Memberships

For about $350 per month I
could become a member of
Rideau View Country Club

I received a promotional email the other day regarding membership opportunities at Rideau View Country Club and it got me thinking about golf memberships, the cost, the value for the cost, the desire to have one, the desire to have a better one, etc.

I have never really known the world of golf from any other perspective other than a member of a club. With that said, I have never known golf from the perspective of a member at a private club. Every golf course, golf club, or golf & country club I have ever been a member of has been completely public. As a junior I was a member at Talbot Park Golf Course in St.Thomas, ON (no link because the course does not exist anymore, it’s now a Walmart plaza). After Talbot Park closed, I moved to Pleasant Valley Golf and Country Club, also in St.Thomas ON and was a member there for one year. I didn’t play much golf through University with the exception of the summer between my 2nd year and 3rd year where I did experience golf as a public player. When I finished my Masters, I starting working part time at Metcalfe Golf in Ottawa and have been there for 5 years (I know I am not technically a member, but close enough).

For about $320 a month, plus
$6,500 initiation fee I could become
a member of Club Link

Being a member has always been about two things, neither of which are the status that comes with being able to say you are a member of club x or y. First and foremost, being a member is about golf (go figure) and second, it is about the sense of belonging to something that is more than a golf course, its a community. This is not to say I don’t desire the status that comes with being a member of a private course (specifically a prestigious one). Professionally, I spent a few years in the world of  squash (administratively, I am not that good of player), which provided me an interesting but incomplete idea of what life was like in a private club (incomplete because I wasn’t actually “one of them”, I was simply an often uninvited guest for a week here and there).  An interesting side note, I had a conversation once with an individual who had been in the world of private clubs (squash clubs) for many years and they didn’t even consider a “membership” at a public course truly a membership, but rather a season pass. To them a  true membership was only found at member owned clubs, where you purchased an actual share in the club when you joined, to me it is all semantics.

For $380 a month I could
become a member at
Carleton Golf and Yacht Club

Given the financial resources, I would like to think I would join a private club. While I do harbor this idea that being a member of a private club does provide some status and a sense that you have “made it”, this is not the reason I would join. No, the reasons I would make the jump to the private club come back to the golf. For one, private clubs don’t see the jammed tee sheets like the public course do (unless you are a member at ClubLink) and two, 8 times out of 10 the private courses are in better shape than their public counterparts. Lastly, many private courses have reciprocal play arrangements with other private courses, more golf is never a bad thing (note, many public courses are also starting to do this).

As for reality, I will likely continue my part time employment arrangement with Metcalfe Golf for the foreseeable future. Going from paying public course membership fees to private course fees may not always be that big of a jump, but going from being payed and getting free golf, to paying private club fees would have a rather detrimental impact on my wallet (what’s the lottery worth this week?).

If you are looking to join a private club, here are a list of most of them in the Ottawa area:

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