Limited Play Memberships?

At some point in time I will no longer be a free agent but will take my talents (and money and emotional energy) to a local course where I will join and belong.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the flexibility and freedom that comes with being a public player and I will maintain those interests around this blog and my lifelong pursuit of my Canadian golfing bucket list.  But in golf, as in life, there is a good feeling about belonging.  I had written about this as a guest of a local country club and also after positive member-guest experiences within the past couple years.  I’ve been fortunate to experience a few of these and the sense of belonging at a course really appeals to me.

I’d like to write with dramatic flair how these are the dog days of winter here in Canada but fact is I golfed just two weeks ago and in about 10 weeks there should be real signs of spring.  Winter has not and likely will not be too rough.  But facts are I won’t be swinging on grass for months still and I tend to use the winter months to research course options – primarily public, but also some private or member-based options.  It’s an annual exercise to see how this value-driven golfer can align his passion for the game within budgetary parameters.

There are two observations in this membership research exercise I’d like to share (and ask your opinion on).  First, is an annoying practice which seems more and more prominent over the years and that is courses failure to post membership pricing.  Instead, they go on and on about the benefits and options for membership but ask you reach out to a membership coordinator for pricing options.  This makes me feel like I am about to get a cheesy sales pitch for a timeshare I have marginal interest in.  I won’t go down this rabbit hole today but it is a frustrating and annoying practice in my opinion.

Second, and of more interest to me is the notion of a limited play membership option.  I work, as many do, and being realistic can only plan to get 1-2 rounds a week in during the peak season and even this play comes at non peak times of day.  I am seeing several courses in my area, one I would be truly honoured to be a member at, offer a ‘limited play’ membership.  Here, I have full access of the clubhouse, practice facilities and can play seven days a week after 4pm.  This may mean more 9 hole rounds but this is not an abnormal time for me to get out on a weekend.  For a fraction of the full membership fee I could benefit from their very good practice facilities and get that sense of belonging which I miss and at times like this in the winter really crave.

I see the obvious shortcomings.  I can’t participate in the club championships or other competitive events and if my day opens up at 1:30 to play a round of golf I’d have to wait.  I know all this.  But I am curious, and am spending more thinking of it this year, if this value driven golfer has found a place where I can get my fix in golf at a place I can call my club is through the Limited Play Membership?

There are many options in the Toronto area for me to consider.  And much time for me to do my research and weigh the pros and cons.  For courses who do not post their membership pricing on your sites, don’t expect a call from me.  But would you ever consider such a membership stream?   I’ll let you know what I decide.  There is no pressure and no rush for me.  I have a bucket list which needs my attention and if business and personal travel plans align for me, I will have the chance to play in five Canadian provinces this year (BC, AB, ON, NB and NS).  I do welcome your opinion, feedback and any experience you have around this.




6 thoughts on “Limited Play Memberships?

  1. 5 PTs this year is impressive. I might hit 4, but 2 is easy for me as I live on boarder of ON and QC. Depending on when I travel for work I may also get MB and AB in this summer.

    I agree on the annoyance of courses not posting membership fees. I understand why, but its an old technique that isn’t relevant anymore in my opinion.

    Lots of Ottawa courses have limited play options, not sure about the private clubs though, although they are doing lots of different programs these days to attract new paying members.

    • Thanks, Aaron. Fortunate to have business in BC and AB. And I may go on a road trip with my daughter to NB and NS and get a round in at each prov. The limited play options are interesting and something I had not really seriously considered until now. Thanks for writing, Mike

  2. Mike

    I have read your post and there is value of belonging to a course. There is a sense of home that makes the golfing experience more enjoyable.

    I would suggest that there is a hybrid option. For example if last year you spent $1000 on golf; the “limited membership is $600”; you still have $400 to play at other courses. The limited membership would provide 80% of your golfing fix and the remainder will help you stay focused on your bucket list.

    Think of it as a trial run for one year to see if will like being a member at one specific course. I look forward to reading about what you decide. On a side note, although it is annoying, I would still call a couple of courses that catch your eye, but do not post their membership costs. That way you are making an informed decision and it might save you some cash!


  3. Mike,

    I like what Jim said. I think it’s important to know what you typically spend on green fees in a year, and if you can find a limited play membership for less than that, you still have some budget to play elsewhere and get the best of both worlds.

    Personally, the feeling of belonging at a golf course is pretty cool. Whether it was the muni I grew up on, where I played most of my golf, went to mens nights, and practiced, or the club I belong to now. Getting to know a bunch of new people, participating in events (club champs, match plays, team events, etc), and developing a sense of both competition and camaraderie is a lot of fun for me. Of course, it comes at a cost as well as memberships aren’t always cheap.

    My wife and I are in a fortunate and unique situation where she was born into an exclusive club through 2 generations of members (her Dad and Grandfather), and then I married into it. Luckily for us, that once you’re in, they maintain some of the most reasonable yearly dues in the country for fully private clubs. It’s been a very positive experience being a member there the last 2 seasons.

    Cheers and good luck in your search!

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