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.