In Southwest Florida, the benefits of joining a private golf country club are a key reason people relocate here, willing to pay for the privileges of enjoying preferred access to golf and a host of other club amenities. As you begin to discover the options available for country club memberships, you’ll find a number of unique differences to consider before you decide if the type of membership and related expenses are the best choice for you; specifically Equity versus bundled golf communities.
Equity Golf Club Memberships
As the name suggests, an equity membership at a club means the member owns a piece of the club, typically as part of the membership owners’ group overseen by an elected Board of Directors. Most golf country clubs are begun by a large development or building firm, and the course, clubhouse and all of the other amenities are initially under their control.
Once the membership grows to a certain level, the ownership, operation, and maintenance of the club is transferred to the membership. This allows the residents there to make important decisions regarding not only the golf course but dining facilities, landscaping, hiring of staff and more. There are dozens of third-party country club and golf course management firms that are retained to handle the club’s day-to-day operations.
In an equity membership agreement, the full cost of membership is refundable if the member resigns as a club member, after a transfer fee of around 15 to 20%. And as an equity member, if your membership’s value has increased over the course of its ownership, the owner benefits financially. With the demand for private golf club memberships on the rise, there are typically people on a waiting list to join. This benefits the owner of an equity membership who is leaving the club.
Membership has its privileges when it comes to equity ownership in an exclusive golf country club. Clubs offering these types of memberships are some of the finest across the country where members enjoy high-end amenities and service. There are often waiting lists to join, and some clubs allow membership by non-residents of the community.
Members will also pay additional fees for things like a minimum food and beverage expenditure per month, golf cart fees or locker room services, and a few others. In return, they can expect the optimum private club membership experience possible. Member-owned clubs generally have fewer members, which means faster rounds and easier tee times.
The communities with the most appeal for becoming a member of a private golf club have many opportunities, like the affluent city of Naples, Florida. Known as one of the most desirable places to live for people of wealth, Naples has dozens of premium golf course communities where savvy people are joining to realize the ultimate Florida lifestyle. Here, an equity membership fee can range from around $10,000 to well over half a million dollars, depending on the club.
Bundled Membership – A Non-Equity Opportunity
An alternative to equity membership at a private golf club is a Bundled Membership, where you can realize the benefits of the club without any ownership position or responsibility for its operational decisions.
Usually, a golf course community will offer membership in the club’s facilities as a part of someone purchasing a home or condominium within the community. Many clubs will still require a membership fee which could be $500.00 to a few thousand dollars, which is non-refundable, unlike in an equity membership. There may also be Master Homeowner’s Association, (HOA), fees related to club membership. At some clubs, members will also be expected to attain a minimum monthly expenditure for food and beverage or additional services.
With most bundled club memberships, members are allowed to use the golf course, clubhouse pool, restaurants, fitness center, tennis courts and other club facilities. Non-golfers may want to consider a Social Membership, allowing them use of all of the club’s amenities except for the golf course.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having a golf club membership bundled into your home purchase. The main benefit is the reduced cost of membership for people wanting easy access to a quality golf course right in their community. A downside that may present itself is the larger number of members, which could mean congestion, lack of tee times and a strain on the club’s capabilities. You need to ask about the total membership number before you make your decision.
But you should not think about any initial membership fee as lost money. With the real estate market in places like Naples, Florida, and the historic increase in home values, you are very likely to not only recover your initial costs but realize a very positive return on your initial investment.
More Things to Consider
If you buy a property in a bundled golf community, be sure you understand all rules that pertain to renting your home or condominium out. You’ll want to know if the community allows renters, and if your club membership allows them to utilize the facilities.
Another key in selecting the right club membership community is how long has it been around, and the current level of club members. A club that is established as among the most prestigious in the area based on its long history will likely have higher initiation membership costs and may not be accepting new members.
A golf course community that has recently launched their sales and membership programs may offer you a more economical opportunity for membership while allowing you to be among the first members of the club.
Economics, your expectations about how often you plan on playing golf and using the club’s facilities, and your overall financial situation all come together in deciding which type of private golf club membership will fit your lifestyle. In Southwest Florida, the choices are nearly endless.
Bonita Springs Golf Communities