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Interest in golf was on a 25-year decline before the COVID pandemic. Golfers started to return to the sport in early 2021 with a belief that golf is a safe outdoor activity, but that uptick in popularity might not be enough to rescue the fortunes of many private country clubs that can no longer afford to remain in business. 

Many private golf clubs that are in dire financial straits have taken drastic measures to shore up their finances, including withholding refunds of membership deposits that they contractually owe to former members. The golf club lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, in conjunction with attorney Robert Dowd of Dowd Law, help former members to recover the fees that are owed to them. We also assist current country club members who have legitimate concerns that their fees will not be returned when they resign from their clubs.

When do golf clubs owe former members a refund?

Individuals who join private country clubs typically sign a membership agreement that specifies the upfront initiation fee they are required to pay, and that includes the circumstances under which those fees will be refunded upon the member’s resignation or termination. Those circumstances often include limitations, such as:

  • No refunds will be paid until a new member joins and substitutes for the former member, in which event the refund will be paid out of that new member’s initiation fee
  • Refund payments will be made over a period of years, and will not begin until a certain amount of time has passed after a member’s resignation
  • Changes in ownership or management might void obligations to pay refunds

As with all contracts and legal documents, members should consult with experienced golf club lawyers before they sign any agreements that include limitations or restrictions on their rights to recover their membership fees.

What recourse do golf club members have when a country club refuses to refund initiation fees?

Golf club memberships are controlled by contracts. Any violation of the agreement by the country club might give the former member a right to sue the club for breach of contract and other causes.

If an individual is reluctant to challenge a private club as the sole plaintiff in a golf club lawsuit and the club is withholding membership fees from several former members, all of those members might have an opportunity to band together to recover their membership deposits and to sue their club in a class action lawsuit. In every case, a former golf club member whose contractual rights are being ignored should promptly consult with a country club agreement lawyer to take steps to rectify the situation in a timely manner.

Take Steps Now to Get the Membership Refund You Are Owed

The golf club attorneys at KGG Law, in collaboration with attorney Robert Dowd, have helped former members of golf clubs in New York and New Jersey to recover the membership fees that were withheld from them when they resigned their memberships. We have extensive experience holding golf clubs accountable and compelling them to honor their contractual commitments, including $1.5 million and $2 million recoveries in NJ golf club membership refund class action lawsuits.

If you need assistance to recover the initiation fees that your club promised to repay to you when you first joined, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

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