Golf Membership – All You Need To Know

Becoming a golf club member is a significant and potentially expensive step – What will you get from it and is it worth it?

Golf Membership
Golf Membership - What do you get? And is it worth it?
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Most venues where you can play golf will have options for a membership of some description, whether the course and facilities are owned by that membership or not. What does it mean to be a club member? What benefits will it bring you and is it worth the money? Here we explore golf membership in more detail – The cost vs the benefit and the options for finding more affordable membership packages that may me more applicable for your requirements.

What do you get with golf membership?

golf membership

There are benefits...

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The benefits of being a golf club member are many and varied:

For a start, as a full club member you will have full use of the club’s on and off course facilities. You will be able to play the course (or courses) at no extra cost whenever you want, depending on the tee sheet availability. You will likely be able to take on guests to play at a dramatically reduced rate and you will probably find there are designated member slots throughout the week, maybe even each day, when the course is reserved for members and not open to visiting golfers.

From a competitive point of view, being a club member presents you with all sorts of options. There will probably be weekly competitions to enter (maybe multiple comps weekly) giving you the chance to pick up some silverware. There’s also likely to be knockout competitions running through the season, handicap, scratch and pairs – further expanding the competitive options. There may then be the chance to play matches at surrounding clubs, giving you the chance to golf at other venues.

These club-run events present a great chance to meet new people who love golf. They are a brilliant way to make new friends and to become part of the fabric of club life.

With that in mind, the club will almost certainly run a busy social calendar that you can either dip in and out of or throw yourself into headfirst. Dances, quizzes, prize-giving, barbecues, family days etc. – there will be all sorts of social events for club members to take advantage of.

Outside of those events, the clubhouse with its catering facilities will be at your disposal any time of the year. Take friends or family for a drink or a meal, enjoy the camaraderie offered by a club where everybody (or at least the club steward) knows your name.

The club may well have other facilities for members to make use of – Gyms and swimming pools at top-end clubs, otherwise - snooker tables, practice grounds, indoor swing studios… Clubs are increasingly investing in expanding their offerings to members.

You’ll probably have a club pro who can give you advice on equipment, as well as lessons and advice – Being a club member is a good way to improve your game.

Often, there are also various other membership options if full membership is not for you.

Golf Membership Cost

golf membership

How much did you say?

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

There’s no getting around it, golf club membership is a significant annual outlay, but there are places in the country where cheap golf club memberships are available.

Generally speaking; the cost of membership works on the basic economic principal of supply and demand. In areas where there’s a high population and a large number of potential members, the cost rises. Where the population is lower and there are fewer people to attract, lower membership prices tend to be offered to get people on the books.

And, like anything in life, you tend to pay for quality when it comes to golf club membership. If you wish to join a club with a highly rated course, maintained in impeccable condition that has a clubhouse with a Michelin-starred restaurant plus gymnasium and leisure facilities, you can expect to pay annual subscriptions well into the thousands. But if you join a club with a nine-hole course that’s looked after by one man on a tractor; a club that has a "portakabin" for a clubhouse with no indoor toilets… You might expect to pay quite significantly less.

Clubs that have a full membership may have a waiting list. Those clubs may well charge a joining fee that can make a first year of membership particularly expensive.

At the other end of the spectrum, clubs that are seeking new members may offer introductory rates to try and attract golfers. If you shop around, you can find a membership deal to suit you.

Is Golf Membership Worth It?

golf membership

(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

This is something particular to each individual requirement. Whether or not golf club membership offers value for money depends on what you want to get from your golf and how much you intend to play.

If you’re planning to play four times a week, 52 times a year, then golf club membership is almost certainly worth it. If the green fee at the course is, say, £75 – that would work out at £15,600 annually – It’s likely the annual subs could be 10 times cheaper than that.

That’s an extreme case but you will need to do some sums to work out what your cost per round is likely to be as a member. But you’ll also have to factor in all those other benefits mentioned in the “what do you get with golf club membership” section above. What value do you place on being part of club life? How much is it worth to you to have facilities and a social life on tap?  

There might be other options though:

What is a flexible golf membership?

Many clubs have started to offer flexible club memberships where you pay a smaller annual fee and then buy credits depending on how much you intend to play. If you choose to play at less popular times, then those credits can get you a decent number of games. With flexible membership, you have far more control over how much you spend on playing your golf at your club.

What is a country membership in golf?

If you want to retain a membership somewhere but don’t plan to play frequently, you might opt for a country membership at a club somewhere you travel to on holidays or for work. Often a country membership subscription will be up to half the price of a full membership. Generally, your permanent residence will have to be outside a designated radius from the golf club, often 50 or 100 miles.

Being a golf club member is a fabulous way to meet like-minded golfers and to make new friends. There are membership options to suit varying budgets and requirements. Overall, for most who play the game, becoming a club member is a positive in terms of both golfing and social lives.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?