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Golf club membership

Listen up, golf clubs: I want to pay you money, not be stripped of my self-respect

The Angry Club Golfer is largely happy with how the game is (finally) catching up with modern ways, but why-oh-why does the membership interview still exist?
 

Here’s something stubborn that just won’t go away. No, not Covid. The golf club membership process.

At least coronavirus has the sense to keep shape shifting. Golf, by contrast, loves nothing better than to slip into some comfortable old shoes.

Remember all those things people said were bad for the game for years? All it took was a few rushing back through the doors because of the pandemic and some clubs couldn’t wait to stiff their prospective members for everything they’ve got.

Not just in the wallet, either. If you’re going to join, it’s going to cost you your self-respect too.

The most insidious part of the whole joining experience at some of our venues is the application rigmarole, which has been in the news YET again.

Let’s consider the degrading horror of it, one that still smacks of masonic handshakes and curiously emblemed ties.

Firstly, you fill in a form and your name goes up for the rest of the membership to gawp at. This makes my mind boggle. Where else can people you’ve never met get the chance to furrow their brows and turn their nose up at you?

Or data scrape you like some sort of amateur Hercule Poirot hunting for any supposed indiscretions?

Let’s say, though, you’ve survived some randomer going through your Facebook posts. Now you can sit in front of a ‘panel’, getting quizzed on club history and why you haven’t been sending application requests since you left the womb.

I thought I was trying to join a club, not get a new job. Wait, you’re going to grill me for trying to pay you money?

It’s not even about whether you’re a bad egg or not. I think it’s about whether you are “one of us”.

And if you’re really unlucky, here comes… a playing interview.

This is a quite remarkable ritual, when you think about it, where you parade your skills to a bigwig, or existing member, who can be appreciably worse than you.

Can you imagine the indignity? That frown you perceive when you’ve slightly hooked one. Listen mate, I’ve just shot 78 and you’re barely keeping it in three figures. Let’s not be judgemental, eh?

I’ve seen the membership affair described as an information exchange. What a load of claptrap. If you’re fresh faced, fair enough I suppose, but this is not my first rodeo. I think I can work out how the bar levy works without being patronised by a room full.

Their place, their rules – I see that often enough in the comments section of this website whenever someone suggests anything that might puncture the idyll of a precious oasis.

But we got a big break with Covid, didn’t we? Years of decline wiped away in the face of a pandemic.

And do we try to change with all those new people quizzically poking their heads round our doors? No, some of us are still stuck in the 1950s. Words fail me.

Have you ever been put through the application ringer, or is the Angry Club Golfer bleating about something that’s largely been buried in golf’s distant past? Let him know in the comments, or tweet him.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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