America is home to 15,372 golf courses – 45 percent of the world’s total. From Pete Dye and Old Tom Morris to Tom Doak and Jack Nicklaus, there is no shortage of professionally-designed courses, complemented by posh clubs packed with amenities.
There is no limitation to what these clubs can charge prospective members, but it is customary to require “initiation” golf membership fees to join. This is especially true for investor owned golf courese, with the initiation fees providing an immediate return on investment and profit to the bottome line. In recent times, however, investors have forgotten about their obligations to the former members who fueled their profits in past years and disregarded their rights when it came time to return their membership deposits or initiation fees upon resignation
Do You Have a Case?
Let our experienced class action attorneys determine whether you have a case in this golf club litigation initiative.
Types of Clubs and Golf Membership Fees
Golfers can choose between:
Exclusive use rights are granted to members – a sign of prestige and the golf club’s exclusivity. One-time fees generally range from $5,000 to $100,000, with payments broken down into payment upon admission or over the course the first year. Members are also expected to pay $3,000 to $10,000 per year in annual dues based on their membership level for use of the facilities. Tiers include individual, family, social, out-of-state, and corporate. Food and beverage minimums may be required at $50 – $150 per month to maintain high levels of service all year long. Additional rental fees may be necessary for locker and storage or golf cart use.
Semi-private memberships allow access to the golf course and facilities to the public on a daily fee basis. Members enjoy priority access to tee times, exclusive access to league play and tournaments, and other perks. One-time initiation fees range from $1,000 to $25,000 due in a lump annual charge. On top of that, annual dues range from $1,000 to $5,000 per year, depending on the tier of membership, for unlimited use of the golf course. Cart and practice range use may cost extra, but there are no food and drink minimums. Locker rentals and club storage, if available, are provided for an extra charge.
Most of the money paid into a club is the price members pay to play. However, most contracts explicitly state that the initiation golf membership fees are fully refundable. The terms may vary based on the governing documents.
Membership Fee Refund Terms
Clubs terms may stipulate:
- A full or partial refund upon resignation at 30 years from the date of membership.
- A refund as long as they maintain a certain number of active members.
- A refund after a certain number of new members join.
Pending meeting these conditions, members are placed on “waiting lists” before the club pays the refund.
Are You Waiting for a Golf Club Membership Refund?
Often, former members find themselves on the waiting list indefinitely, with inquiries to the club being put off or ignored. Clubs may change their policies to lengthen the amount of time it takes for resigning members to receive their refunds, or they may simply not follow what they agree to in the controlling agreements. Members who are tired of the runaround can always contact Gary Graifman of KGG or Robert Dowd of Dowd Law, who have teamed up to hold golf clubs accountable for abiding by their contract terms and applicable consumer fraud statutes. You may be eligible to vindicate your rights by joining a golf club membership fee class action lawsuit. Potential collective or class action status may be warranted depending on the circumstances.