Country Club Membership Initiation Fees. Negotiable?

OK, I've never belonged to a private club but I am thinking about joining one this year. I am planning to re-relocate (moving back to San Diego) and I am looking in the Rancho Santa Fe area. This is an expensive area but I am not totally loaded so I need to find the best deal possible. From the little research I have done so far there the pricing is around 100K+ for initiation into several clubs in that area, The Crosby, Santaluz etc. What I really want to know is are these 'asking' prices or are they set in stone? Then down the road can I sell the membership if I move or want to change clubs? Do memberships typically appreciate? Thanks!!!
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OK, I've never belonged to a private club but I am thinking about joining one this year. I am planning to re-relocate (moving back to San Diego) and I am looking in the Rancho Santa Fe area. This is an expensive area but I am not totally loaded so I need to find the best deal possible. From the little research I have done so far there the pricing is around 100K+ for initiation into several clubs in that area, The Crosby, Santaluz etc. What I really want to know is are these 'asking' prices or are they set in stone? Then down the road can I sell the membership if I move or want to change clubs? Do memberships typically appreciate? Thanks!!!
I don't live in your area, but I have a couple of thoughts:
1. Whether or not memberships may be sold is dependent on the nature of the club and its policies. Equity clubs generally allow members to sell out. One local club literally sells its own stock instead of asking for an initiation fee.
2. Initiation fees are occasionally negotiable. As well, many clubs reduce initiation fees for "young" new members (i.e. younger than 30, or perhaps younger than 40). Another local club prorates initiation fees based on the new member's age; a younger member joins for a lower up-front cost.
3. Some high-end clubs actually appreciate a member's initiation fee if he or she sells out. One club further southwest in Virginia pays an 8% return to any member that resigns his (men only) membership. This has provided incentive for folks to join, since the $125K investment adds up quickly.
Hope this helps.
WW
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In short, most clubs who control the selling of the memberships do not negotiate fees, but they negotiate terms. But really, everything you ask depends on the desirability of the club. If they are desperate for members, then everything is negotiable. If they don't need you, then you have little negotiating room.
Every club can be different on how they approach the equity of your membership. Some clubs consider your initiation fee simply a fee that gives you access to the club, but you have no equity and get nothing in return if you leave the club or worse, kicked out. Other clubs consider the initiation fee your equity share and that cost can change over the years up or down. When you want to terminate your membership, some clubs let you sell your equity share to another potential member on your own as long as they are approved, but most clubs make you sell the membership back to the club for a pre-determined amount. It would not be unusual for you to receive in return only 2/3 or some other fraction of your equity share in return.
In short, it's not a great 'investment'. It's better to count on the fact that you will lose money if you leave the club and if by some miracle it turns into a bigger equity value, it's your lucky day. True, there are the really nice, exclusive clubs that may offer a decent return for your leaving, but not many.
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Like others have said, the payment can be negotiated, but the price usually cannot be. They might have some incentives to join that they'll throw in, but the price is usually the price.
The one way you could make money is to get in while a club is new and/or low on members. The club I work for started out in the high 20s, with the intention of eventually topping out at 75k. Right now, we are high 40s and were the only club in the area selling memberships this fall. So for those who got in early, their 20-something grand will probably be worth a lot more when we fill up.
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Like others have said, the payment can be negotiated, but the price usually cannot be. They might have some incentives to join that they'll throw in, but the price is usually the price.
The one way you could make money is to get in while a club is new and/or low on members. The club I work for started out in the high 20s, with the intention of eventually topping out at 75k. Right now, we are high 40s and were the only club in the area selling memberships this fall. So for those who got in early, their 20-something grand will probably be worth a lot more when we fill up.
Not totally true. I know many golf clubs here in SW Cincinnati that are hurting for members. Walk in, open the check book and see the initiation DROP on the spot, if you ask.
Not a good deal for someone who may have joined 18 months ago for $5K down, and then you walk in during a membership drive and get in for 1/2 that or less. Usually this does not apply to the clubs that charge large initiation fees, $25K+
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There are a couple of reasonably priced clubs in the Rancho Santa Fe area ,check Morgan Run C.C. and Lomas Santa Fe C.C. The Farms is middle of the road pricewise and is a stellar track .The Crosby has the best set of par 3s I've played ,The Bridges is flat out spectacular and pricey .Ther is a club in Vista called Shadowridge that is a great track and has the most single digit members of any club in S.D. and it is very inexpensive ,if you want a players club ,check it out .
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With the this economy the way it is right now, EVERYTHING is negotiable!!! I would dare say if the club your speaking with doesn't want to negotiate, you don't want to be a member there. Look for a good players course and go from there. I would find a good playing assistant pro and take him out to lunch. He should be able give you the skinny on the best combo of good course and good deal.
good luck
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To be a member of Rancho Santa Fe GC, I am pretty sure you have to live in the district, which means you are in for a cool $1m, for the most modest of properties. (Median prices are $3.2m). I am down the road in Solana Beach, and have been looking at nearby properties recently.
I think it would be hard to negotiate on the fees, as there are many out of town members, and they arent exactly short of cash, either. That being said, its a GREAT course.
Lomas Santa Fe is the cheapest, but its kinda a boring track (IMHO). The others, Farms, Bridges, etc, are pretty pricey and well in the $100-200k range. You can negotiate, but the at those rates, what is the real difference between $180k and $160k??
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Suply and Demand!!!
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I am moving to that area and want to join a club as close to my home as possible. That being said there are 6 private clubs in Rancho Santa Fe:
Fairbanks Ranch
Morgan Run
Del Mar Country Club
The Farms Golf Club
Bridges
Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club
and 3 that are not officially in RSF but practially
Santaluz GC
Lomas Santa Fe CC
The Grand Del Mar Golf Club
Most of these clubs are so new I don't think they have come close to reaching their total membership limit. The only two I have have called to get pricing on are The Crosby @125K initiation and Santaluz @100k. Those are the two that I am looking at closest because the homes near there are more along my price range (I guess).
I am trying to figure out if I can negotiate the initiation fee and it sounds like many people think it is possible. I'm guessing that the monthly dues are absolutely not negotiable which is understandable I guess. Being able to resell the membership for at least close to what I paid would be very important also. I'm just not sure how to go about finding all this out. You guys have given me some good ideas and any additional info would be great especially in regards to this area and or clubs. Thanks!!!
PM me if you want to share anything offline.
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I am moving to that area and want to join a club as close to my home as possible. That being said there are 6 private clubs in Rancho Santa Fe:
Fairbanks Ranch
Morgan Run
Del Mar Country Club
The Farms Golf Club
Bridges
Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club
and 3 that are not officially in RSF but practially
Santaluz GC
Lomas Santa Fe CC
The Grand Del Mar Golf Club
Most of these clubs are so new I don't think they have come close to reaching their total membership limit. The only two I have have called to get pricing on are The Crosby @125K initiation and Santaluz @100k. Those are the two that I am looking at closest because the homes near there are more along my price range (I guess).
I am trying to figure out if I can negotiate the initiation fee and it sounds like many people think it is possible. I'm guessing that the monthly dues are absolutely not negotiable which is understandable I guess. Being able to resell the membership for at least close to what I paid would be very important also. I'm just not sure how to go about finding all this out. You guys have given me some good ideas and any additional info would be great especially in regards to this area and or clubs. Thanks!!!
PM me if you want to share anything offline.
Rancho Santa Fe is a clear cut above the rest...although you have to live in the covenant and memberships are usually included with the home, if not, there is a very modest initiation fee. Rancho hosted the At&t before Pebble and has excellent practice facilities as well as excellent golfers, Phil Mickelson and Jamie Lovemark. Besides Rancho, The Farms is the next best course with fees a little above what you quoted. I would recommend The Farms, and you don't have to live in Rancho to be a member.
The Grand is a pretty good track with fees around 170K, but the lack of adequate practice facilities (no short game area and one practice green next to the first tee) as well as a resort being built take away from the course.
The problem with Santaluz and Crosby is fire and the courses aren't on par with the courses in Rancho.
Morgan Run is hardly a country club worth joining unless you just want an easy track to scoot around with avg facilites. Del Mar is like La Jolla, good social benefit, but the golf is just ok.
The Bridges is at least double the initiation as what you seem to be looking for.
As far the courses go, I'd rank them:
Rancho Santa Fe
The Bridges
The Farms
The Grand
Fairbanks
Del Mar
Santaluz/Crosby/Lomas
Morgan Run
As far as the established clubs, negotiation may be difficult. Memberships may be negotiable in many parts of the country, but people have to keep in mind that Rancho Santa Fe, now number 2, was the richest community per capita in the United States. The newer clubs like Santaluz and Crosby (neither of which are in Rancho), you may have some luck with, but I'm not sure.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
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You might also want to consider who are going to be your fellow club members. There are a-holes at every club, but some seem to have many more than others. Golf is meant to be enjoyed and being plagued with folks you don't want to be around or play with .......well that sounds like my job. LOL
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If membership is close to full, you won't get a break on the amount, but maybe terms. If they are starving for members and you don't mind pissing them off and then having to try again at another club, go for it. If there is one particular club you want to be at, I wouldn't try to negotiate anything but the terms.
When I joined my club at age 40, I paid 1/2 the deposit up front, and 1/2 the next year. I also joined in April and did not pay dues until November.
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I've been around most of these clubs for a while. Worked for a couple of the club owners/operators at one time or another. These are some pretty exclusive clubs, and to my knowledge initiation fees have never ever been negotiatable, in good times or bad. They do have "specials", especially from the corporate owned clubs.
Some of the clubs mentioned are equity type memberships, some are corporate owned. You'lll need to find out these details eventually, to find out the exact nature of your $$ position.
IMHO the best deal in the San Diego County, for a private club is The Golf Club of California, in Fallbrook. Initiation is only $20,000, and the golf course is a great track...as good as most mentioned, if not better. Also a brand new beautiful clubhouse. There are only about 80 golf members, so its a ghost town. You can walk up to the first tee on Friday at noon and have the place to yourself. The place is kinda out there though.
ps- If you like to gamble Del Mar Country Club with make your arse pucker! Some huge cash games...occasionally in the 5 figure range!
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Initiation is only $20 grand. What do you people do for a living to afford this lifestyle? Im in college and cant even ponder the thought of paying 40-50 grand to play golf.
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San Diego Country Club is another good one(best greens around), but given where you are moving, a drive either to San Diego or to GC of California will be a long.
Rancho Santa Fe is one of the best golfing communities around. 20K is nothing for membership. If I recall, the Bridges got up to 350K around the time they had the last primetime golf event with Tiger.
Chipper, you're back east. Equate golf membership and wealth in Rancho the same that you would Westchester, Greenwich and the Hamptons. Except, per capita, Rancho is a wealthier area.
At an elite club, starting membership buildup, you're looking at min 100K and an expected increase in equity as more members join and initiation fee rises.
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I did confirm today that The Bridges is $350K to join which while I am sure it's nice is way to much. The Farms is a member owned equity club which outgoing members are selling memberships for about $49k right now. The Crosby and Santaluz are still developer owned and not enough memberships have been sold to turn the ownership over to members but that is supposedly the plan. The Farms is supposedly a really nice course but it is a golf only club w/ no real amenities. As opposed to Santaluz for example which has tennis, fitness, swimming, spa etc. The Golf Club of California in Fallbrook looks really nice but it's too far away from RSF.
There has been some really great information given here, Thanks! In a few weeks I hope to go down there from the SF Bay area and get a better idea of how things look. I'll probably play a few rounds and start narrowing the housing down which will be a huge factor as to which club I am going to be likely to join. Maybe by this summer I will start a new thread looking for playing partners down there. I will post back if I find out more about the clubs.
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"IMHO the best deal in the San Diego County, for a private club is The Golf Club of California, in Fallbrook. Initiation is only $20,000, and the golf course is a great track...as good as most mentioned, if not better. Also a brand new beautiful clubhouse. There are only about 80 golf members, so its a ghost town. You can walk up to the first tee on Friday at noon and have the place to yourself. The place is kinda out there though."
I second SDCC one of the best in San Diego. Second best......Pauma Valley great track.
Happy hunting!!
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I'm a San Diego native and grew up playing many of the private courses in the RSF area. The Crosby and Santaluz are the new kids on the block. Both are over $100k to join. There are incentives from time to time, but you won't see major discounting with the clubs in this area. Both of these new clubs are in a transition period in which the builder of these new housing communities is trying to build up enough members so that they can sell the course back to the membership. Based on the slowdown of the housing market... this may take a while.
In my opinion, the older, more established courses in RSF are a much better way to go if you want to join a private club in this area. Some of my favorite courses in the ranch are RSF Golf Club (membership is only $32k, but you have to own a home in the covenant… which is $1.5M and up), The Farms (about $50-60k right now to join) and Fairbanks Ranch (about $40-45k these days).
If you are open to other areas to have a membership, there are a lot of really nice clubs you can join for $20k or less… a lot less in some cases. I agree, SDCC and the GC of CA are among the best for the $$. If you are under 40, most clubs have some sort of Jr. Exec membership available. Where you join might really depend a lot on where you’re living in SD. I am a Realtor in SD. In addition to traditional real estate, I have a specialty niche that specializes in golf course properties. There is a lot of good info on my web site including web links to the private clubs. See www.SDGRE.com for info. Also, feel free to drop me a line if you need help finding a house and/or a good place to join in SD. I’m always happy to assist.
Thanks!
John A
John Antinone
San Diego Golf Real Estate
Tel: 619-838-5646
Email: john@sdgre.com
Search for Golf Course Homes at www.SDGRE.com
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It's called class distinction, by moving the initiation fee so high, the general public could not afford the fee. I won't be surprised if sponsorship from existing memebers are also required, to make sure the new members could fit in.
If you have a six figure for initiation fee and won't blink on $600-$1200 monthly due, just go and get whatever pleases you. Life is too short to not get what you want while you could afford them.
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Its true... the exclusive clubs keep the initiation fees high for a reason. And yes, most equity memberships also require a member or two to 'sponsor' the applicant. The nice thing about equity memberships is that you can buy low and sell high. Not always a great 'investment' per se, but at least you know you can sell it whenever you want. Equity memberships are running low these days, so you can get a pretty good deal. Some of these memberships that can be had for under $50k were going for over $100k not all that long ago...
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Be sure to play all the courses first, and play the finalists more than one - the last thing you want to do is shell out big bucks only to find that a course you intially thought was a good fit for your game is actually one you find boring. Joining a club is sort of like getting married - you get to play more often and the tee times are easier to get, but it's the same course every day .