The question: private or public?

A golfer carts his clubs back to his car at the Vista Valencia Golf Course on Sunday. Christian Monterrosa/ The Signal

We are fortunate to live in Southern California. There are so many great golf courses to play, and each one will challenge you in a unique way.

Most of the truly spectacular courses happen to be private, but there are plenty of terrific public and resort courses, as well. Based on this, I can’t help but wonder which is a better option for golfers out there — Private or public?

I believe that most golfers, if given the choice, would prefer to be a member at a private golf club.  Private courses tend to be in better condition, have nicer amenities and offer fun tournaments and social events. However, they also come at a hefty cost.

Public courses, on the other hand, are typically not as well kept, are more crowded and don’t offer the social events of a private club. However, public golf tends to be much more affordable, thus making us much more willing to compromise certain elements of the experience.

Private golf clubs tend to cater a bit more to a family lifestyle. At many clubs, you will find not only a golf course, but also tennis courts, a swimming pool and plenty of weekend party options.

Public courses cater a bit more to individuals, a long list of tee times and a bar offering drink specials with a large bucket of range balls.

I can find several reasons why both of these options are good ones.

Private golf clubs create a version of what I describe as “adult day care.”  These clubs are generally made up of members who are doing well financially, and are looking to make new friends as they enter the later stages in life.

Tuesday mornings are typically open to ladies only, while Wednesday mornings are typically only for the men. You will also find plenty of couples’ golf events, and the experience can be outstanding.

Public golf is quite different.

You don’t play public golf to meet new friends, because you are usually showing up with a group of friends you have already put together. At the end of the day, rather than sitting in the bar discussing what time you want to play the next time out, you are deciding which golf course you want to play the next time out.

There is flexibility, and it can be fun to play a different golf course each week.

I have experienced both ends of this. I grew up playing on a public golf course, but I also spent over 20 years working with private golf clubs. I love them both.

When it comes to making a decision as to a private or a public golf experience, you need to ask yourself a couple of things.

“Am I happy playing the same golf course every day, and building plenty of new friendships along the way?”, or “am I happy playing different golf courses each week with the same group of friends I enjoy spending most of my time around?”

Fortunately, there is no wrong answer. Both are great options, and that is a nice problem to have.



Related To This Story

Latest NEWS