Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Becoming An Overseas Member Of A UK Royal Golf Club

Even though I have never played golf over in the UK, I find myself thinking, boy it would be great to be a member of courses I have admired from afar but never played like Royal County DownRoyal Porthcawl or Royal Cinque Ports. A big part of the reason for my interest is that these courses seem to be great places to play and also just to hang out and be a member.

Another factor stems from a great thing about the UK model of golf in that many of the courses you hear about are technically "private" but they allow outside/public play and by doing so, keep the membership fees to something reasonable.

Most private golf courses in the UK have membership options on their websites with all the numbers and membership terms so you can daydream or seriously consider becoming a member. Not necessarily so with "Royal" golf clubs. Royal golf clubs are clubs that have an association with the British monarchy (usually it takes a royal person to be a member of a club plus an application process) and there are currently 62 of them throughout the world. Royal golf clubs seem to keep how one becomes a member and how much membership costs very close to the vest.

Recently I took a look around at the UK Royal websites, daydreaming as usual, and was surprised that a few of them are upfront about how you become a member. The information that I could find, I share with y'all with a surprising discovery at the end!

Royal Dornoch:

Very reasonable membership fees with a 1,080 Pounds buy-in plus 540 Pounds a year in dues. The first course on the list is one of the best prices I could find for a top tier course (except for one notable exception below), especially if I wanted to be an overseas member. They don't seem to have any obvious "must know 3 members and also be a member of another club" type rules that I can see  making this a GREAT option to join. RD is also a course I might realistically join for the quality of the golf, the history and as a side benefit, it is close to a Coore & Crenshaw course they are trying to build in the area.


Royal Musselburgh

Ok, wow this course offer an overseas membership of 352 Pounds a year for the sixth oldest golf course int he world! The membership application looks really straightforward too and speaks to the laidback nature that I get from the website.


Royal Ascot

Billed as "one [of] the friendliest clubs around", the club charges a reasonable 550 Pounds per year for overseas members. They also have a "buddy scheme" to help settle new members to help make friends which I think is a great idea. More clubs so be invested in incorporating members into the club culture once they join. Good on ya RA!


Royal Epping Forest

This is a fascinating "Royal" course. The course is owned by the members yet the City of London administers the course. Thus you can become a member for 420 Pounds but will have to pay separate greens fees when you play. Interesting!


Royal Cromer

The course looks beautiful nestled up by the cliffs near Norwich. Royal Cromer offers a "Country" membership (which I have always assumed to apply to overseas members but I think just applies to residents "in" country) for the low price of 550 Pounds a year. Another benefit of this course are reciprocal rounds with multiple royal golf courses. I am a big fan of reciprocal rounds and would only join a golf course with the ability to play others (counterintuitive I know).


Royal Eastbourne

First this club has 2 courses, always a benefit when looking to be a member somewhere. Secondly it seems like they have a lot of flexibility with membership, including a winter membership for 6 months for only 250 Pounds. The thing I like most about the course is that they brag about having one of the best greenskeepers (Paul McDowell) which I LOVE. Yes, be proud of your staff!


Duff House Royal Golf Club

Do you know that Alister MacKenzie redesigned a royal golf course in Scotland? An overseas membership to this undiscovered gem is only 290 Pounds a year. Plus what is up with that name? I guess it is named after the local mansion but still, Duff House, love it!


Royal Montrose Mercantile Golf Club

160 Pounds for the year, not bad, not bad at all. Also what is interesting here is that there were two clubs with the first getting royal designation in 1845. Both clubs merged just in 2019 although why they chose Mercantile in the title is unknown to me. It's a very British title though!


Royal Norwich

RN has a fascinating membership format in addition to the regular 5, 6, 7 day membership. It looks like you can buy membership points and then use them to play rounds at the course with most, if not all, of the advantages of regular membership. What an interesting idea and something I wish private courses here in America would adopt.


Royal North Devon

I have always been intrigued by RND, it seems like a fantastic course and boy are they having a fascinating sale! If you are applying for overseas membership right now in 2020, there is no initiation fee and it looks like membership only costs 260 Pounds a year! I mean the quality of the course and the price kinda makes me want to join this club even though I don't live in the UK!


So there you have it. Should I become a RD or RND member (if either one will have me)? What about the Royal Porthcawls, Cinque Ports and County Downs of the world? Anyone want to bring me into the fold?

If anyone knows how to become a member of any of the other Royal courses let me know in the comments! Also, what course would you want to join if you could? Let me know in the comments!

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