The process of choosing a club to join.....

fat80b

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I am recently returning to golf after 8 ish years off thanks to kids and am really struggling with the best club to join.

Back in the day, I was a member at a nearby club (for 3 years) that has a lovely tight course, but I never really got into the ‘club scene’. I managed to play with some folks when turning up in the evening on the off chance and had one regular-ish group through work. But to be honest, I never felt like I was a member of the club if that makes sense. Most of my golf was played as a singleton (which I also really like) but it didn’t really feel like I got my money’s worth despite playing most summer evenings. Never did comps and never got round to getting a hcap, very rarely played on a weekend.

I’m now looking at joining a club once more and have 3 on my shortlist (as well as a play more golf subscription option at one of them) but have so far been unable to pull the trigger as I can’t see that any of them will work any different to the last time I joined a club. If anything, they seem worse with the tee booking systems rather than more of a roll up and queue option.

My wants are :

Somewhere where I can get into various groups as and when. Ideally some kind of WhatsApp group for arranging a game with others in a similar boat.
Somewhere I can turn up on the off chance and tee off. I.e. not somewhere where you have to book 3 days in advance.
Somewhere I can play summer evenings and jump around the course a bit – play 6 – 9 holes etc.
A place to get a handicap. I don't care about comps as such, I just want to measure my own improvement.

Of the clubs I’ve visited, none of them seem to have a scheme for meeting others and getting a game. I asked the pro in one place if there was some kind of signup sheet / WhatsApp group, and he couldn’t have cared less which put me off them despite it being a nice course. The playmoregolf team assure me there is an arrange a game function via WhatsApp and there are 50 or so members at the same club but they won’t actually show it to me before signing up. With tee off times being booked everywhere, it feels like it steers you to isolation rather than group play.

How do you establish how easy it is to get a game with others from the outside of a club or is it a case of pay the money and try it for a year.....
 

timd77

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My own view on this as someone who has joined a couple of clubs in the last couple of years, seeing the best bits from both:

Find out if the tee booking system is set up to allow you to book in with others. My last club was and it was a great way to meet new people, there was an expectation that someone would join in to make up a fourball or whatever. Current club doesn’t allow it for some reason, which is a downer. I don’t see the point in allowing 1 person to block out a whole tee time, doesn’t make sense for the club, the owners or the members.

One of the best ways of getting in with people is playing comps, you should be able to play in a comp without the official handicap, you just can’t win it as such until you have. The reasons this is a good way are you can pick and choose the people you want to play with, play with different people every week etc. No doubt you’ll strike up some affinity with some of them and before you know it you’ll have a number of people you can play with, have a drink in the bar with etc. The other good thing is if you play with someone you didn’t like, just remember their name and avoid them in future!

What I would say is that since lockdown and with how popular golf is at the moment, hopping around holes, turning up without booking etc is pretty much a thing of the past, or at least it is around here. There are just too many people wanting to play now.

Good luck ??
 

Boomy

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I joined a club last September, after a 10 year break away from the game - I didn’t know anybody at the club… I just put my name down with other people on the booking system. I’ve met lots of great people, some who I now have a regular/weekly game with and some I have a game with every once in a while.

Join a club, speak with the pro, speak with the club secretary and even introduce yourself to the captain as a way of meeting people. Put your name down with others on the start sheet, some will welcome you and become friends, others might not be so welcoming but hey you win some they lose some.

Edit: as mentioned above check with the clubs to make sure you are able to put your name down with others on the booking system. Playing in competitions is a great way to meet folk too, you don’t have to play to compete, play socially to build up confidence and meet new folk.
 
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fat80b

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where are you based? There will likely be someone on here with good local knowledge
I'm in Cambridge.

Edit: as mentioned above check with the clubs to make sure you are able to put your name down with others on the booking system.

Maybe this is the bit I was missing - I was seeing the booking system as a way to prevent folk from meeting up - I hadn't considered it as a way to join up with other groups.

I'll go and ask the clubs if their member booking system enables you to join other people's groups. They don't for visitors but maybe it is different for members. I hadn't considered this.
 

2blue

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I'm in Cambridge.



Maybe this is the bit I was missing - I was seeing the booking system as a way to prevent folk from meeting up - I hadn't considered it as a way to join up with other groups.

I'll go and ask the clubs if their member booking system enables you to join other people's groups. They don't for visitors but maybe it is different for members. I hadn't considered this.
It's how our Booking System is arranged. If it's a tee for 3, you can only book 2 on there..... in winter, a tee for 4, one person can book only 3. Seems to work well for us & we have over 100 new members a year, though reading that back makes me wonder why so many leave? :unsure: However we are very much a very good 'Starter Club'
 

BiMGuy

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I'm in Cambridge.



Maybe this is the bit I was missing - I was seeing the booking system as a way to prevent folk from meeting up - I hadn't considered it as a way to join up with other groups.

I'll go and ask the clubs if their member booking system enables you to join other people's groups. They don't for visitors but maybe it is different for members. I hadn't considered this.
Which clubs are you looking at in Cambridge?
 
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I'm in Cambridge.



Maybe this is the bit I was missing - I was seeing the booking system as a way to prevent folk from meeting up - I hadn't considered it as a way to join up with other groups.

I'll go and ask the clubs if their member booking system enables you to join other people's groups. They don't for visitors but maybe it is different for members. I hadn't considered this.
As much as I hate booking sheets they are a good way to get to know people. Find a group with a space, stick your name down and Bob's your uncle......
 

AAC

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I suppose that a booking system replaces the old system of turning up & sitting in the bar or chatting in the Pro shop, those served me very well for over twenty years in terms of meeting new people of just joining up with others I already knew. Although we now use a booking system I generally play with and adjacent to people I know, if we ever see someone who looks a bit 'lost' we will accommodate them (if they want) by splitting our groups up so that they get a game, over the years I have met plenty of members this way.

I have always found that chatting with people in the bar usually yields a game.
 

fat80b

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Which clubs are you looking at in Cambridge?

My short list is Girton (where I used to be a member), The Cambridgeshire at Bar Hill (either as a member or with pmg), or Meridan (who offer full memberships or a points to play approach).

I was heavily leaning towards Bar Hill, but the conversations with the pro there put me off.
Meridian seems more formal and less 'just turn up and play' and doesn't really have two loops of 9
and Girton has slowly been bubbling up the list as I find issues with the others. I like the course and the fact that on a quiet day, it is easy to skip a few holes and make a 90 min trip out but I don't want to end up mostly playing alone (even though I also want a bit of this turn up and play 6 holes etc as a requirement).

There are others, but I have ruled most of them out based on cost or my perception of what it'd be like there having played them in the past (which I fully realise might be incorrect).
 

fundy

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My short list is Girton (where I used to be a member), The Cambridgeshire at Bar Hill (either as a member or with pmg), or Meridan (who offer full memberships or a points to play approach).

I was heavily leaning towards Bar Hill, but the conversations with the pro there put me off.
Meridian seems more formal and less 'just turn up and play' and doesn't really have two loops of 9
and Girton has slowly been bubbling up the list as I find issues with the others. I like the course and the fact that on a quiet day, it is easy to skip a few holes and make a 90 min trip out but I don't want to end up mostly playing alone (even though I also want a bit of this turn up and play 6 holes etc as a requirement).

There are others, but I have ruled most of them out based on cost or my perception of what it'd be like there having played them in the past (which I fully realise might be incorrect).


Assuming youve ruled Bourn (or whatever its now called) out? think if it was me Id be choosing between there and Girton rather than Bar Hill or Meridien

@paddyc likely to have some insight
 

BiMGuy

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From a course layout point of view, Bar Hill would be my choice from those you have mentioned. Although Meridian is probably the best kept course. However, Bar Hill doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘club’ if that’s what you are looking for.
Girton is ok, but I think I’d be bored playing it every week.

Bourne and Brampton Park are nice. I really enjoy playing Brampton but it gets very wet in the winter.
 

harpo_72

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It's how our Booking System is arranged. If it's a tee for 3, you can only book 2 on there..... in winter, a tee for 4, one person can book only 3. Seems to work well for us & we have over 100 new members a year, though reading that back makes me wonder why so many leave? :unsure: However we are very much a very good 'Starter Club'
That’s a sensible idea, we don’t have that and you get the same old 4balls ..
 

Yorkhacker

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That’s a sensible idea, we don’t have that and you get the same old 4balls ..

If anybody else can add their name to the group, I'm not sure it's going to stop the same old 4 balls playing together, as the booker will just tell the 4th when they've booked and they'll add their name themselves.
 

BiMGuy

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If anybody else can add their name to the group, I'm not sure it's going to stop the same old 4 balls playing together, as the booker will just tell the 4th when they've booked and they'll add their name themselves.

Maybe, but I’d probably not want to play with groups like that anyway.
 

harpo_72

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If anybody else can add their name to the group, I'm not sure it's going to stop the same old 4 balls playing together, as the booker will just tell the 4th when they've booked and they'll add their name themselves.
That’s very true, but potentially there is an opportunity to get a desired time. This the issue with the booking system in that it works in the favour of those who have predictable schedules and don’t have to ask for pass outs … I now just book a tee time and cancel when I am told I have another commitment. But it also means I miss lots of opportunities when I get late notice on commitments .. the wife doesn’t like being told 15days out and the family don’t like getting rejected because of competition weekends ?? - but we all have priorities
 

SwingsitlikeHogan

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I’ll +1 to comments on being able to add your name to groups via the booking system. And ask how well used your booking system member messaging system is used…ours wasn’t to start with but has become a key comms channel between members through the pandemic with the intro of casual golf tee booking. I regularly use it to check with two balls and three balls when I go to put my name down with them. I just ask if it’s ok to join them. I’ve never been rejected and I would be surprised if I was - but it’s a courtesy and you dont know their circumstances ?

And I’d add - check out if they have an Academy system.

You may not wish to join an academy as they are generally focussed on those completely new to the game or who haven’t played at all for many years - but in both cases want to know if the game is for them without the cost of a full membership. Plus it gives them a feel for the club and full members and how welcome and ’part of’ they are.

If you join our academy and find you like game and like the club that you want to take full membership then I think you go to the head of the waiting list. Key though is that academy members are members…and part of your academy membership involves full members mentoring you and ‘captaining’ academy member texas scramble teams.

If you find a club with an academy and can speak with a member of the academy and/or the organiser I think you will get a good feel for what being a full member of the club will be like.
 
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fat80b

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It really does seem like the booking system can be a positive and I had totally missed this having not been a member with a booking system and only ever seen it from a visitor's pov.

I went to Girton at lunchtime and spoke to a member just about to tee off and the assistant pro in the shop as well as the office staff.

They use the BRS app for booking and it is setup so that you can add yourself to make a group if there is a space open. Both the member and the asst pro showed me how it works which was nice.
Members can mark a tee time as reserved if they are feeling anti-social and don't want people to join them, but the majority of slots were open and they seemed to encourage adding yourself to others' bookings.

Other things that had changed / improved are that they now have a range ball machine (whereas the range used to be a field and bring your own balls). They also have an indoor / simulator setup for the winter which is a nice touch (not sure I'd use it but nice to have the option I guess).

So having thought I'd try somewhere else, I think I am about to do a U turn and go back to Girton based on the guidance here...... Thanks to everyone for the replies.
 
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