Joining a Golf Club involves much more than selecting a course on which to play golf. Private Clubs of all descriptions are institutions valued and jealously guarded by their members. Members usually wish to preserve certain traditions and to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals both on the course and in the clubhouse. Lifelong friendships are formed, and many groups travel together for golf and other purposes. For these reasons, prospective members must usually be introduced by existing members of some standing, who need to assure their fellow members that the prospect will “fit in”. Whilst this may seem quite daunting and even “unfair” to a non-member, it works both ways, in as much as a substantial investment is often required in both time and dollars to gain Club membership. The annual fee at many inner city Private Golf Clubs is around $2000 and the Joining Fee can be several times this amount. Waiting periods of many years may be encountered.
Getting a Handicap without the expense
For those not seeking to join one of the more expensive and exclusive golf clubs, there are alternatives to get more involved in golf and to obtain a handicap. One major benefit of having an Australia social or club handicap is the inclusion of Personal indemnity, Accident and Equipment Insurance. See this example
OPTION 1 - Join a Club
Golfers may have varying motivations for joining a club. For many it will be about forging great friendships and companionship plus the feeling of belonging to a Club you take pride in. Others may join a Club because of the golf course or facilities alone or the extended benefits provided by a membership. Alternatively, golfers may choose to join a Club simply to maintain a handicap via a low cost option which enable golfers to play in official golf competitions and corporate events from time to time. A significant benefit of this is you pay green fees only when you play and avoiding upfront costs.
Join a non-exclusive club. On the outskirts of the city and throughout the country there are hundreds of clubs with open memberships. For between $25 and about $800 you can join straight away and start collecting your first three cards. (NB: You don’t have to play all your golf at your home club to get or keep your Australian Handicap!)
Details such as joining fees plus competition days are shown under many club listings in The GOLF Course Guide. Look at our maps, telephone clubs in your area, and most importantly get out and play several games of golf with the members.
Golf Australia has attempted to co-ordinate offers from member clubs via golfclubconnect but as at November 2012 little detail was available on this site.
Join a Club attached to a Public Golf Course
In Victoria you can join a Victorian Golf League Club (VGL). These are the clubs attached to many of Melbourne’s public courses. For around $100 they register and maintain your handicap, organise club competitions and even provide clubroom facilities.
In NSW there are similar social groups that provide an official handicap. The NSW Golf League’s Warringah Golf Club is a Centre and you can contact Donna See Hoe on (02) 9905 4709 for more details.
State bodies are the best point of reference for information on local clubs that can provide you with a handicap.
- Golf Victoria – (03) 8545 6200
- Golf NSW – (02) 9505 9105
- Golf Qld – (07) 3252 8155
- Golf SA – (08) 8352 6899
- Golf WA – (08) 9367 2490
- Golf Tasmania – (03) 62 443 600
- Golf NT – (08) 88927 6950
For those new to the game wishing to obtain an Official Golf Handicap and play in golf competitions, either socially or at club level, Golf Australia (the body responsible for administering the Australian Handicap System, GOLFLink) set up Golf Access Australia in 2007 as a joint initiative with the Australian Sports Commission with a view to establishing a pathway to joining a Golf Club. Benefits included:
- Golf Australia Affiliate Handicap, administered through GOLF Link, giving access to various golf competitions and providing a monitor of progress
- Golf Australia's Personal Insurance Plan (PIP) which includes cover for loss and damage of clubs, personal liability and personal accident insurance
- Resource pack with rules, etiquette, general information and a GOLF Link Card.
- Newsletters featuring GAA and Golf Club initiatives, golf industry updates, special offers and various other information
Several organisations were accredited to provide Affiliate Handicaps including National Golf Access provider: Bushranger Golf – Matthew Pitt - 03 5433 3213 firstname.lastname@example.org
However, it appears that both the Private Clubs that are GA constituents and the Golf League Clubs had concerns that Golf Access could lead to migration of members from Club Golf to Social Golf, and as a result in May 2012 Golf Victoria announced that it would no longer support Golf Access. “Instead, Golf Victoria has formed a relationship with RACV Golf Membership. This relationship provides a fantastic opportunity for Victorian social golfers to access a wide range of benefits not currently available to Golf Access members.”
GA has introduced the Crown Lager Social Club for casual handicaps. Victorian Social Groups operating under Golf Access were given the option to sign up with the VGL and retain their handicaps, insurance and Golf Victoria Magazine. This offer lapsed at end July 2012.
RACV Golf Membership provides an option to transfer a current GOLFLink number, whereas Golf Access did not allow a player to discontinue club membership to join Golf Access.