Country Club Bargains

If you have some cash lying around, or got a big refund from the IRS, now may be the time to shop for that country membership you’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford.

If you have some cash lying around, or got a big refund from the IRS, now may be the time to shop for that country membership you’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford. Like many other businesses across the country, exclusive country clubs are reeling from the recession and many are cutting prices to boost membership and stay out of the red. Thousands of members have dropped their memberships or suspended them to save cash, according to a recent survey by the National Golf Foundation, cutting membership in some clubs by as much as 30% or more.

Of the nation’s roughly 4,400 private clubs, about 700 have reported facing a serious financial crisis. The tactics the clubs are using to fight back vary. About 500 clubs nationwide have responded by discounting initiation fees, putting them on an installment plan, or waiving them altogether. Some are inviting so-called affiliate members, who pay no initiation fee and then have a few years to decide whether to become a full-fledged member. Although club membership is traditionally by invitation only, some clubs are aggressively advertising their no-initiation-fee promotions, while others are trying to beef up revenues by allowing public play.

Not all country clubs are offering deals, so you may need to do some legwork in your search for any potential bargains. A good first step is to find country clubs in your area, which you can do at The Golf Membership Spot. The site lists clubs by state and also includes a Buyers Guide that features a checklist of important questions to ask before you submit an application.