Like most things in life, golf courses come in all shapes, sizes and standards; some offer annual memberships, allowing golfers to play as much as they like for a set fee and offers have other benefits. Other courses tailor more to the general public who play games as and when they decide, paying a fee each time they decide to play.
Whether you decide to play on a public golf course, or sign up for a yearly membership at a private golf course, depends on your ability, how frequently you play, and your budget. Both have their individual pros and cons.
So where is your “home away from home”? Here are the differences between private vs public golf courses.
At private courses, you will most likely pay an annual fee or monthly fee, and these can range from £400 per year to, at the very top end, £125,000 per year at Wentworth golf club in Surrey. Private courses are therefore more well suited to those who play golf frequently, in order to make the often steep membership costs worth it.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, so the quality of the courses are likely to be extremely well maintained and impressively structured.
Private courses have more than golf to offer. Some come with spa’s, pools and even tennis courts. With a membership, you can use these for free. They might also offer coaching or golf tuition at a discounted rate or even, for free.
If you also enjoy socialising, then a private course may be perfect for you. You’ll see the same faces and form friendships with fellow golfers every time you attend a game. You will probably get highly discounted meals at the club house, and attend a range of social events.
For serious players, the golf course becomes a home away from home, a community where you can meet friends and unwind after work, or even a place to enjoy time with the family.
Nick, 43, Buckinghamshire.
“I started to play 2-3 times a week at my local golf course, but I found I was improving a lot and fancied trying out a higher-end course. I found somewhere I loved and met some of the other members and they really encouraged me to join. The price startled me a bit, but actually at the rate I’m playing, it will work out cheaper in the end. The amenities you gain access to are fantastic. I’ve taken my kids to play tennis at the courts, and we all enjoy lunches at the clubhouse. A real home away from home for us”.
If you just want the occasional knock about, or if you get jaded playing the same course over again, then public courses are probably more well suited to you. Considering you are not paying a huge membership fee, you don’t feel tied down to one course; meaning you can try as many as you like! Most public courses still offer a membership of some kind; an incentive if you do eventually feel like becoming a member.
The golf courses may not be as well-kept as private golf courses and will sometimes be a lot more crowded, but if you’re not a well-seasoned player, it’s a good place to start. Public courses are host to a variety of golfers; first time players, amateurs and pro golfers.
It has also been said that the exclusive and sometimes elitist attitudes from golfers at private courses makes new and amateur players feel intimidated and put off. Public courses are generally more relaxed.
Alex (on the right), 32, Derbyshire.
“I have thought about getting a membership, but I don’t play enough for it to be worth it, and to be honest it’s a bit out of my budget! I love to try out different courses to improve my game. I recently made a trip up to Scotland and tried Burntisland Golf Club in Fife, which was a great course. Ultimately, it’s a social thing for me, but I couldn’t imagine being tied down to a particular course”.
If you don’t know whether to join up, most public courses nowadays offer private membership (also known as semi-private courses) and vice-versa, and most courses offer 5-7 day trials so there is no need to rush into paying for a membership until you are certain.
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