First, what is an avid golfer? An avid golfer is one that plays 50+ rounds or according to some an individual that spends $1500 or more a year on golf equipment, such as balls or clubs.
A person does not necessarily have to be an avid golfer by definition to consider joining a golf club. Even playing only twice a month would be worthy of getting a golf membership at a club.
Right now around Christmas is the perfect time to join. Many golf clubs that offer memberships are running specials this time of year and throw in some extra incentives. For example, they may say join now and pay no cart fees until a given date or complimentary lesson.
Here are what I consider the top 5 reasons to join a golf club or a private country club:
1. Game Improvement - Staistacally a golfer with a membership is a better golfer. Why? They have access to practice anytime they want with their membership. The average cost to go to a driving range is around $20 and if it is an off-course driving range there usually is no chipping and putting practice areas. If you wanted access to a course that has a good short game practice area and a grass driving range it may cost you $30 just to use those practice areas and many clubs limit how long they allow you to practice if not a member. When you are a member most of the time you have unlimited access to practice. This of course depends on the golf club. The more private a club is the more access you have. The other way your game improves is consistency. Golf courses that offer memberships are usually better-conditioned courses. When the conditions are better your game naturally improves due to the consistency of the conditions.
2. Events - Memberships offer a different golf lifestyle than not having one. One of the main draws to membership is the events strictly for members. Most if not all clubs offering a membership will have golf tournaments nearly every month and most of the time a club championship or member-member tournament. These are also sometimes put on by the club at no extra charge. If the club is more private then you will also have access to non-golf events for only members.
3. Discounts - Memberships usually come with discounts. Many clubs offer 10% - 15% off pro-shop merchandise. That alone can be a big saving when buying golf balls. Other discounts may come in the form of reciprocal rates at other local golf courses. When I worked at Lakewood Golf Club, at that time, we had reciprocal rates at almost every golf course in the New Orleans area. Especially when we had an outing members got a flat rate at area courses and we treated members from those clubs with special rates as well. Some club memberships will come with discounts off the course with local businesses. I could go on all day about the discounts and privileges that memberships can have, but I think you understand what I am saying.
4. Family / Friends - Many golfers who enjoy memberships use it more and spend more time with friends and family playing golf. Even as a single golfer membership is a great way to meet other golfers, make new friends, and find a regular game to play in. Many clubs offer family memberships that will include a spouse and any children up to the age of 21 (depending on the club) in most cases and sometimes up to 25 still living at home. Parents that get a golf membership statistically will spend more time with their children and play more golf as a family than those that do not join a club. Depending on the club a family may also benefit from more quality time with the use of a pool, dining or other social activities geared toward families.
5. Save Money - Most golfers actually do not consider the long term cost to play golf all year, so they rarely compare what they spend on golf to a golf membership. Let's just say a golfer plays twice a month, with the average green fee being around $60. That is a total of $1560 for the year. Since just about every golf membership includes golf, if that membership was $1500 a year and you walked the course once a week you would have just saved $1620 for the year. Grant it if you wanted to use a golf cart there is usually a fee between $8 and $20, but that would still be a savings of around $500 give or take.
Those are just some of the great reasons an avid golfer should consider joining a club. Each club will be different and the more exclusive the club the higher the price. Depending on where you live and if you want an individual or family membership will all determine what club you join. However, I will give you fair warning, some of the more exclusive clubs you have to be invited by a member, you can not just go ask to become a member, and sometimes there is an initiation fee that goes with it.
Call or visit a golf course's website if you are interested and inquire about their membership and what it entails. The right membership at the right price may be out there waiting for you.