There are three basic types of golf course: the private, the semi private, and the public.
Although there are some other unique styles mixed in, these are the three that golfers are most familiar with.
If you are an avid golfer, you are probably very familiar with the public and private courses.
However, it tends to be the semi private courses that bring up a lot of questions.
This is really no surprise considering semi private golf courses can tend to be a bit confusing.
Let’s take a look at what a semi private golf course is and whether or not this could be a place where you would like to play golf more often.
What Is A Semi Private Golf Course?
A semi private golf course is a golf course that sells memberships, yet also allows nonmembers to book tee times.
The lines between the membership and the public golfers can get a bit blurred at a semi private golf course.
Typically, there are restricted times when only the members can play.
In addition, there are facilities that only members will have access to.
However, if the golf course is in need of extra revenue, they can sell their tee times to outside groups of public golfers.
The situation is a unique one that is becoming more and more popular in the United States.
With some private clubs having a hard time keeping the doors open, changing to semi private can be a perfect solution for everyone involved.
There are lots of benefits of being a member at a semi private club.
The benefits may not be quite as strong as joining a private club, but there are certainly some valuable reasons to get involved at a semi private golf course.
Let’s take a look at some of the positives and some of the negatives of being a member at a semi private golf course.
Benefits Of Semi-Private Membership
If you live in an area where golf courses are expensive to join, you may be left with the choices of public golf or semi private membership.
The semi private clubs sometimes get a bad reputation, but you should make sure that you fully understand what this type of golf club is before you decide that it is a good or bad idea for you.
1. Easy Access
As a member of a semi private golf club, you will get first access to all of the best tee times.
Semi private golf clubs typically have certain days and times that are blocked out just for their members.
This means that outsiders will not be allowed to play during these special access times.
For some semi private clubs, this will be a specific day of the week or even the entire weekend.
For other clubs, it may just be all the morning tee times.
If you are thinking about joining a semi private golf club, it makes sense to think about when you play and whether or not these times will be protected and open for you with your level of membership.
If you are tired of waiting for weeks to get on at a public golf club, you may be thrilled to see the easy access you can get at a semi private golf course.
When joining, always make sure you find out how hard it is to get a tee time.
Since this is the major benefit of joining a semi private golf club, make sure you fully understand what you are signing up for.
2. Better Pace Of Play
The pace of play at a public golf course can sometimes be five hours or more.
This is very frustrating because golf just does not need to take this long.
Players take more time than they should to find their ball, they walk slowly, they talk to friends, and they ignore groups behind them.
All it takes is one slow group to completely ruin a Saturday at the golf course.
However, at semi private golf courses, there are usually restrictions in place about pace of play.
In addition, some semi private golf courses may even have rangers to help push along the pace of play and keep golfers moving.
Without these rangers, the rounds could take the five or six hours that they do elsewhere, but this helps to keep things moving.
If you play much better golf at a pace of around four hours or so, the semi private golf club will be a much better spot to consider.
3. Good Value
Since a semi private membership is not a full private golf membership, it comes at a reduced cost.
The semi private club realizes that you have a choice to play their golf course as a daily fee customer or to join.
Therefore, they make the joining a relatively fair value that does not cost all that much more than the daily fee.
You will undoubtedly save money joining a semi private club as opposed to joining a private club.
In addition, most semi private clubs are not equity membership, so you will very likely be exempt from assessments and other increases in expenses brought on by private golf membership.
If you are right in the middle of joining a private golf club and know that public golf is no longer for you, semi private golf membership is the best option to consider.
4. Better Golf Course Conditions
Since semi private golf courses have members and typically a little larger operating budget, they also tend to have better golf course conditions.
In addition, when people are paying to be members of a golf club, they typically take a little better care of the golf course when they are out there for the day.
People may repair ball markers, drive the carts only in areas where they should be, and rake the sand traps.
It is an unfortunate truth of public golf that many golfers will just ignore the need for taking good care of the golf course.
When playing public golf, taking care of the golf course can feel like a lost cause.
However, at semi private golf courses, the conditions are usually pretty good, and the courses are actively involved in ensuring that they offer a great product to the users.
Most people find the conditions to be almost as good as they are at private golf clubs.
5. Access To Other Golf Club Amenities
When you join a semi private golf club, you may have access to more than just the golf club.
Some of these courses have locker rooms, gyms, swimming pools, tennis, and more.
You may find that the entire package that the semi private club puts together is something you would want to be involved in.
The extra benefits can be really good for a family looking for an entire lifestyle experience from the golf club.
Overall, you will have much more access to the great facilities than a golfer at a public golf course.
Negatives Of Semi Private Membership
Even though semi private membership can be great, there are some issues with it as well.
Like all good things, it is a good idea to take a look at the benefits of positives of the semi private membership.
Here are a few of the negatives that you may experience with this membership.
1. Playing With Non-Members
There are times when you are going to be paired with or right behind nonmembers on the golf course.
These are people who are just paying the daily fee to play the course.
This is completely allowed under the structure of a semi-private golf membership, but it is still frustrating for some people.
If you are a true fan of golf, playing with people you don’t know may actually be quite enjoyable.
Some people find that playing with nonmembers works out to create new friendships and potentially even some invitations to other golf courses to play.
You should be open-minded about the fact that playing with new people is just part of semi private membership.
If this bothers you, a membership at a semi private club may not be the best option for you.
2. Not As Exclusive
Semi private clubs are not as exclusive as private clubs.
Sometimes the semi private clubs that allow for member play only on the weekend are going to have some exclusive feel on the weekends.
This is when only members will be allowed to play the club, and it will feel like a true private club.
If you don’t enjoy the feel of an exclusive club, you may not see this as a negative.
However, if you are looking for a place that feels like a private club, most semi private options are not quite going to cut it.
3. People Who Don’t Care About The Course
We mentioned this a bit when we talked about the course conditions at the semi private clubs typically being a benefit.
It is a great thing that the members of a semi private club take care of the golf course.
They do this because they care about the conditions, and they want to ensure that the course stays in great shape for years to come.
In addition, the extra dues money that these golfers pay is something they want to see put to good use, helping them produce better course conditions.
However, as a member of a semi private golf course, you essentially have to share the course with the public golfers as well.
Some of these golfers will take great care of the course, and others will completely ignore the importance of excellent golf course conditions.
It is important to realize that you will have to deal with some people you likely don’t want to deal with when you join a semi private club.
For the lower membership fees that you pay, this just comes along with the territory.
In the end, more members of semi private clubs find that it is still well worth the price that they pay to enjoy a golf club, has a fast pace of play, and get much better overall golf course conditions.
Is It Worth Joining A Semi Private Golf Club?
Semi private golf clubs bring up a unique solution in some areas of the country.
Although you will have to make a bit more of an initial investment when joining a semi private golf club, it is really a great overall deal.
With golf getting more and more popular during the Covid pandemic, people were having a hard time getting on a golf course.
With some golf courses costing more than $15,000 just for the initiation fee to join, it is hard to make that big of a leap.
The semi private golf club provides a perfect mid-level membership option.
You won’t have to put up large sums of money but will get to see quite a bit of what being a member at a private golf club is like.
As you may well know, many of the semi private golf members were once at private clubs and get tired of the very high fees.
Although you will have to deal with outside play, most of the outside play at a private golf club will be paying higher fees to play, and they will likely know they are playing a better golf course.
The great thing about some semi private memberships is that some of them will block complete days off of their calendar that is only for the club members.
Without a doubt, the members will have a much better user experience at the club, and many of the staff and personnel will start to get to know you as well.
If you love golf and think that you will play quite often, joining a semi private golf course is a great choice.
Why Are Semi-Private Golf Courses More Expensive To Play Than Public Courses?
When looking to book tee times, semi private golf courses almost always stand out as being more expensive.
The semi private golf courses tend to have better course conditions, faster playing time, and friendly staff members.
However, this all comes at a cost.
The reason the courses are more expensive is that the golf course must stay in relatively good condition for the members of the club.
In addition, the price of the membership that people are paying for needs to be justified for the members.
Therefore, if they can go out and play the course for $20 instead of joining, they would just do so.
The daily rate has to be higher than the per round rate for the members of a semi-private club, or the entire equation just does not work.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what a Semi Private golf club is and how it works.
Overall, you will find these courses to be a great solution to your golfing needs.
Don’t assume that semi private golf courses are too expensive as you may be surprised to find out that they offer a great deal.
Sometimes at the end of a season, you can find a great deal on a semi private golf club membership; this is the time to take advantage of it.