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How to Gain Access to Even the Most Private Golf Courses

by Jeff Helms March 9, 2020
How to Gain Access to Even the Most Private Golf Courses

Want to gain access to play at one of the top or private Golf Courses around the world? We have found 5 ways to make that happen. They, of course, require some work or connections, but man you get to play! I know it is worth it.

#1: Become a course rater for a magazine

The golf world, like society in general, has gone mad for top lists, and there is high praise to a course being highly ranked. Clubs that used to shun raters have become laxer, so if you have the drive and time to travel and do the work, being a rater is a credible way to play dream courses, including some very desirable tracks. Each golf magazine has its own criteria for selecting raters: factors considered are your handicap, the breadth of courses you have played, and your inclination to travel.

#2: Donate to a charity

Even the most august clubs, such as Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Fishers Island, and the Olympic Club, host charity outings, which permit the unwashed masses to play. You might have to hide the cost from your spouse, but you really wanted to play, didn’t you? And it’s all for a good cause.

How to Gain Access to Even the Most Private Golf Courses

#3: Leverage your club professional

Many pros have good connections and can secure you a tee times on very desirable courses. This approach can work great for any top 25 and even private and exclusive clubs.

#4: Join a specialized club

The Outpost Club and the Eden Club are societies for enthusiasts who want to play the great courses. Recent private events for their members have included rounds at Riviera, Oakmont, and Merion. You pay membership fees in the five-digit range and dues at a level commensurate with a private club, but then again, how much is playing your bucket list worth?

#5: Volunteer

The techniques above probably won’t work at Augusta National, which is a private paradise unto itself, and even the tried-and-true method of asking a member will often yield a “no.” What I’ve learned is to combine the two approaches: If you somehow connect with a member, let him know you’d love to volunteer. Volunteer recommendations from members get you to the front of the queue. Once you are in you get to go each year. So be jealous! 

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