Ways to Finance a Golf Membership

September 17,2018by Bobby Bishop

Millions of Americans love the sport of golf, and for many of them, there is no better way to enjoy their favorite sport than by joining a private golf club. Not only do golf clubs allow members to enjoy the game in a beautiful setting, but it provides many other benefits as well. Golf clubs are a great place for the whole family to have fun, network, do business, and improve your skills at a sport that you enjoy.

For all the benefits a golf club membership provides, there is a significant drawback: the cost. The sport itself is already expensive but gaining entrance to the typically exclusive world of a club membership is even more pricey with initiation fees often ranging in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Because many people do not have that kind of cash laying around, it might be necessary to finance a golf club membership.

Costs of a Golf Membership

While initiation costs are a one-time fee, they can start at $2,000 and go as high as $100,000. Beyond this fee, there are annual dues that can range from $3,000 to $10,000, which are generally collected monthly.

On top of these fees, there are numerous other expenses associated with belonging to a golf club. To start, most of them require members to meet a food and beverage minimum each month, which could be as much as $200. Other costs may include locker rental, club storage fees, and the expense of renting golf carts.

The cost of joining a golf club varies significantly based on several factors such as where you live and the type of membership that you have. The quality of the golf course and club will also play a role, as well as the number of public and private courses in the area.

Financing Options for a Golf Membership

If you can’t afford to pay for a golf club membership out of pocket, there are numerous ways to finance the expense. While waiting to save up for a membership is also a good idea, that could mean missing out on networking opportunities, professional training, and the ability to golf on a great course whenever you want.

If you do choose to finance your membership, you can do it in a few ways such as using a personal loan, a credit card, a retirement account, or financing through the club itself.

Personal Loan

A personal loan is one way to finance a golf membership with some lenders specializing in this type of financing. Depending on your credit history, the annual percentage rate (APR) for these types of unsecured loans can range from 4.99 to 35.99 percent.

These loans have the benefit of allowing you to choose a payment to fit your budget by selecting a loan term that works for you and to make regular monthly payments. However, you will be taking on substantial debt at a potentially high interest rate.

Unless you can get a good APR based on your income, employment status, and credit score, it’s probably best to avoid personal loans for this expense.

Credit Card

For golf memberships with relatively low membership initiation fees, a credit card may be a viable option. This is a simple way to pay for your membership: just swipe your card, and you’re done as long as the initiation fee does not exceed your credit limit.

The problem is, unless you have a low introductory APR on your credit card, the interest rate will likely be sky high — 18% to 24%. Since the interest rate isn’t fixed, it can be difficult to pay off credit card debt.

Using a credit card does have the advantage of being a quick way of securing a membership, but this financing option should be avoided unless you can take out a credit card with a 0% interest introductory period. In this case, you can put the charge on your card and pay it off within that period. If you cannot pay it off in that period, though, this option should be avoided.

Retirement Accounts

Another option is using a retirement account to pay for your golf club membership. This involves either taking a withdrawal or borrowing against your retirement account.

If you take a loan, you’ll pay back the money to your account with interest. You can also make a withdrawal from your retirement account.

Both have the advantage of obtaining money immediately, but the drawback is potentially reducing the amount of money available for retirement. In addition, there are significant tax penalties associated with withdrawing money from your retirement account as well as taking a loan if it’s not paid back quickly.

For this reason, borrowing against or taking money from your retirement account should be a last resort.

Club Financing

Finally, you can finance your membership directly through the club. Not every golf club offers this option, but if they do, they might offer a 0% interest rate.

To qualify, you need to have an excellent credit score, a solid income, and good employment history. Because this is not always an option, many prospective golf club members might be better off looking for other alternatives.

Bottom Line

While there are many ways to finance golf club memberships, they can all be relatively expensive — on top of the cost of belonging to the club. The best option for most golfers is to wait until they can afford to pay for the initiation fee out of pocket. This will prevent them from going into debt only to spend more money to keep up the membership.


Andy Kearns is a Content Analyst for LendEDU and works to produce personal finance content to help educate consumers across the globe. When he’s not writing, you can find Andy cheering on the new and improved Lakers, or somewhere on a beach.


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