GolfStinks: 5 Signs Your Private Course Is Now Public

Recently, (National Golf Foundation) conducted research surrounding private country clubs in the U.S. – what they found was a drop in the number of private courses over the past 5 years by almost 400 – but rather than closing their doors, the majority of these clubs are simply converting over to public facilities.

Related Link: GolfStinks: Why I Love Taking 5 Hours to Play Golf

In light of this new phenomenon, it might be prudent to provide a way for private club members to recognize they no longer belong to a top-drawer establishment. Below are 5 signs your private course has recently been downgraded converted to a daily fee facility:

#1 – You notice the dress code is slipping a bit.

Bill Murray

First, you realize people are wearing collared shirts from brands you’ve never heard of – like Faded Glory and Sonoma. And strangely, no one seems to tuck in anymore. As for the pants, you wonder whatever happened to the ones with all of the little whales or ducks embroidered on them?  Now it seems everyone is wearing shorts…yuck. Finally, wearing an ascot around your neck or sweater across your shoulders seems to be eliciting strange looks and/or nasty glances.

#2 – Your playing partner is a member of the “Tennis Shoe Crowd”


The fellow you’re paired up with isn’t even wearing a collared shirt! His clubs are of the yard sale variety and his shoes are more suitable for the tennis courts than the golf course. Furthermore, his course etiquette is atrocious and on nearly every hole you must help him find his ball in the woods. By the back nine, you have to take over the cart driving duties due to his inebriation from cheap domestic beer. Thankfully, he sleeps through the last 3 holes.

#3 – There are waits on the tee-boxes

A Brief Explanation of Slow Play

For some reason, a few tees are backed-up two and three foursomes deep (especially the first tee). In these situations, it is important to remain calm (breath into a paper bag if necessary). Eventually you’ll get to tee off, but don’t be surprised if it takes several minutes. Unfortunately, waiting on the tee box is a tell-tale sign the iron gates at the entrance have been thrust open to the general public.

#4 – Your round is getting longer… a lot longer

Partly attributed to numbers 2 and 3, that speedy round you’re used to is now a thing of the past. It used to be you could finish 18 in a mere 2.5 – 3 hours if you made haste, but now 4- and even [gasp] 5-hour rounds are the norm. All this time out on the course is cutting into your after-round fraternizing in the clubhouse. But the good news is…

#5 – No one really lingers in the clubhouse anymore

Gone are the blissful days of debating the performance differences between an Audi S5 and a BMW M5, while enjoying a game of Gin Rummy in your favorite smoking jacket (in fact, cigar-smoking indoors has been banned altogether). Meanwhile, the mahogany wood lockers sit unused and collecting dust, while you’ve overheard plans to convert most of the clubhouse space into a senior bingo hall on Thursday nights.

Alas, if any of these signs are recognizable at your club, there is a distinct possibility you now belong to a public facility (or worse even a muni). Our advice is to try to adapt as gracefully as possible. Perhaps begin by removing the ascot – hey, every little bit helps!

Penning articles that don’t necessarily focus on the PGA Tour, GolfStinks churns out content only a true weekend hack could appreciate – from funny golf stories; to product and book reviews; to hilarious (and sometimes serious) golf observations; the GolfStinks blog will keep you entertained throughout the week! Taking the frustration out of golf since 2009!


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