All Beginnings 11: Club Membership - Part 1

Published on   2022-04-04 by Kai

You've passed the golf license exam, and the equipment for the first steps of your golf career is ready. Now you can finally get started. Can it really?

In contrast to many other countries, golf in Germany still has an elitist character. This is due not least to the fact that the vast majority of golf courses cannot be played without membership of a golf club.

Things are different in the motherland of golf, Scotland, for example. Many courses there operate according to the "pay and play" motto. Pay your green fee and off you go on your round. In Germany, this is only possible on a few public courses. And they are often small and short, i.e. they do not have 18 holes, often not even 9. And the courses usually have no more than par 3s.

This is certainly enough for the first steps and experiences, if you are lucky enough to live near such a public course. But quickly, as experience shows, you want more, you want longer courses that give the designer of the course more design options, pose greater challenges to the player, and present a different form of experience when playing.

Playing seriously and regularly

If you want to play seriously and regularly - and most golf license holders do - you will need a club membership. There are different models.

The choice of membership type depends on the player's time and budget. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, which must be weighed up before signing the membership form.

Today we are talking about the regular, the full membership: you live near a nice course, maybe you even got your golf license there and you are sure that you want to take the next learning steps and spend a lot of time on these courses.

So one will take out this membership, perhaps even with a small discount, because one is already associated with the club and has already paid the fees for the exam there. But this is far from being the case everywhere. If you love club life, are sociable and just don't want to just play, you're in good hands with this type.

All club costs covered

Advantage: Who concludes such a full membership, has thereby all association costs covered and can go as often as it would like on the round. Because it includes full playing rights on the club's course, the handicap is managed and you get the official membership card of the German Golf Association (DGV).

In the following I set up a calculation example, in order to clarify the resulting costs. For this purpose, I will take average values for the various fees and costs, which can vary significantly depending on the club. Therefore, if you want to know exactly how much it costs to become a member of a particular club, you have to find out the exact fees at that club and make up your own calculation. In many cases, the costs can be seen on the club websites.

(Source: German Golf Association)

Full membership is a bit of a drain on the wallet. There is an annual fee to pay, which - depending on the exclusivity of the club - amounts to at least about 100 euros per month and which usually has to be paid every year.

In addition, there is often an admission fee of around 1,000 euros. Some clubs have models that allow you to pay this fee over several years in addition to the membership fee, so that your budget is not strained too much at once.

Fee for catering

And another expense is being demanded by more and more clubs: a fee for catering. The restaurant in the clubhouse is of great importance, clubs pay attention to good cuisine and an upscale ambience. But this has to be financed, the restaurateur wants to be able to make a living from it, especially since walk-in customers tend to be the exception in golf club restaurants.

Of course, people like to sit together after a round for a refreshing drink, and depending on the time of day, food is also ordered. But as a restaurant operator, who has fixed costs, you cannot rely on this.

So that the restaurateur can calculate his year with a guaranteed income, in many clubs nowadays a certain obolus - often in the range of about 200 euros - is collected from the members already at the beginning of the year. This sum is an interest-free loan from the player, because it can be consumed in the course of the season, so - in that sense - it is not lost.

This is certainly fair, gives the club and the restaurateur mutual security, but it has to be factored into the annual costs. Above all, if the budget for the hobby gulf in the own purse experiences an upper limit.

An example calculation

And now it is necessary to calculate: Who is employed, goes on average per month maybe four times on the course to play a round and of course in advance to use the practice facilities such as the range. Let's calculate here with 12 months, although in the dark season there will certainly also be a break from playing. But during the summer, you might go to the course more often. So it balances out.

A non-member of this example club pays green fees and possibly also a range fee. Both together you can calculate with an average value of about 70 Euro. That would be 4 x 70 Euro x 12 months = 3,360 Euro. On the other hand, there is the membership fee of about 1,200 Euro plus the admission fee plus the gastro-obolus, i.e. about 1,500 or 1,600 Euro. That is only half, so the full membership pays off.

However - and now comes directly the restriction - here the optimum was set. Therefore, it is important to consider: Do I really make it to the course every week? Will I always play a full 18-hole round? What about vacation or sick leave? It doesn't take long to cancel an appointment because your golf partner can't make it and you don't want to go out alone or with people you don't know. And even in summer it can rain, which can - but doesn't have to - spoil the pleasure of the round.

Trial membership can help

Who does not have to pay attention so exactly to its expenditures, which will nevertheless seize here directly. Especially since many clubs also offer trial memberships or a cheaper introductory year. Then you can first see whether full membership is really worth it financially.

Not to be forgotten in this calculation is the fact that many clubs have green fee agreements with other clubs. That is, one plays also on foreign places more favorably than to the normal Greenfee.

Conclusion: The full membership holds many advantages, must be paid for it however with a fixed sum at the beginning of the year.

But there is also a completely different approach to golf and club membership. More about this in the next article in this series.

Previous article in the series: All beginnings 10: Golf license passed - and now?

Next article in the series: All Beginnings 12: Club Membership - Part 2

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