Naples Private Golf and Country Clubs: Five Things to Know

Membership at private clubs throughout the U.S., and especially in Southwest Florida, has surged over the past 18 months. Meanwhile, the average member age has decreased dramatically. In fact, here at The Club at Olde Cypress, many of our new members are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. That's right … their 30s.

The takeaway?

Many people are joining a private golf or country club for the first time. And those who haven't joined yet but are actively looking (or even curious), there's a lot to learn.

In fact, it can seem downright overwhelming at times. Especially here in the greater Naples area where there are so many private golf real estate and club options.

To help you find the Naples golf lifestyle that's right for you, here's a list of five things to know about private golf and country clubs in the "Golf Capital of the World."

1.  Most are Member-Owned

There are essentially two private club models. The vast majority are member-owned with each member having an equity stake in the club. They operate as non-profit organizations – 501 (c) (7s) according to the IRS.

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Then there's a smaller sect that are privately-owned and operate "for profit." Olde Cypress is a non-equity, privately-owned club operated by an owner and staff with a deep appreciation for golf, tennis, social events, fitness, fun and our valued members.

Check out our blog post for a deep dive into the differences between the two categories.

2.  Many are Bundled Communities

Every golf-real estate market has its nuances, and Naples is no exception. "Bundled Communities" are one such wrinkle and have emerged as a popular golf community model throughout Southwest Florida.

A bundled community is one in which golf club membership is included (a.k.a. bundled) with purchasing a residence. Historically, they've been popular with second home buyers due to the lower upfront and annual operating costs.

The upside?

They typically don't require an initiation fee and members (usually) pay slightly lower monthly dues.

The rub?

Every homeowner is a member, and many of these communities have upwards or 1,000 or even 2,000 homes. You don't have to be a math whiz to realize tee times can be hard to come by. So if you're considering a bundled community, be sure to do your homework.

3. You May Not be Able to Use Your Own Golf Cart

This may not seem like sticking point at first, but it's a major cause of buyer remorse at private golf and country clubs in the greater Naples area. After all, buying a golf course home, club membership and new golf cart are all part of the dream.

At last count, only 25% of clubs in the Naples market allow members to use their personal golf carts on the golf course. This is below the national average and well-below the norm in-state.

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Clubs that do allow members to cruise the fairways in their custom rides charge members an annual "trail" or "cart usage" fee. At Olde Cypress, members pay $1,950 to use their own carts, and about 60% chose to do so.

Here you'll see carts customized with every feature you can dream of and others adorned with NFL or college team colors and logos. It's a fun way for our members to express themselves while enjoying the ultimate convenience.

4. They Don't Advertise Their Culture

Clubs are gathering places for birds of a feather. For example, some are hard core about their golf. Members have single-digit handicaps, tournaments are dog-eat-dog, and "just for fun" groups get marginalized and can feel uncomfortable or even out of place.

Others swing 180 degrees the other way, with large factions of high-handicappers and even beginners. The majority of private clubs fall somewhere in between. At Olde Cypress golf handicaps generally range between 12 and 25. However, the average pace of play is under four hours: members respect the game's traditions and etiquette.

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Off the course, a club's true colors shine. Some are lowkey with a smattering of social events and a members who prefer to keep to themselves. Many are "party central," with themed events, dinners, concerts and even organized "off campus" trips or group golf trips led by a member or the golf staff.

This is effectively a club's culture, and you won't get a true vibe for it until you spend time at the club and with members. Sure, websites, brochures and other collateral provide a basic feel for the atmosphere. But check with your prospective club (s) to find out how you can immerse yourself in "club life" before deciding.

5.  The Golf Course You Play Today Won't Play the Same in 10 Years

While the golf course at the club you join might look the same 10 years from now, it won't play the same for you. A mid-handicap, 55-year-old male drives the golf ball 225 yards, on average, according to the United States Golf Association (USGA).

By age 65, that distance decreases to 212 yards and by 75, it's down to 196 yards.

For women, the decline in distance is even more pronounced. So pay close attention to how a club's golf course plays from the forward sets of tees.

And ladies: ask the golf staff if there are more than one set of tees rated for women. You should also be able to glean this info from the scorecard. Time and club policies permitting, play your prospective course once from your current set of tees and once from the next tees up.

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Our P.B. Dye-designed course features seven sets of tees ranging from 4,132 (Calusa) to 6,711 yards (Tournament). We have three sets of tees rated for women, including the 5,464-yard Pines tees that play to a course rating of 72 and 136 slope.

There's never been a better time to join a private golf or country club in Naples. With a bit of due diligence, you'll find one that's perfect for you and yours.

Interested in learning more about The Club at Olde Cypress? Click here to contact Director of Membership and Marketing Melissa Hansen, today.