Average Income of Country Club Members: (Affordable?)

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Joining an exclusive golf and country club has long been regarded as an activity for the wealthiest people in society.

After all, the initiation fee and annual dues quickly add up, and it’s common to spend tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, on membership.

With that in mind, how much do country club members actually earn? And are country clubs really only for the wealthiest people around? Let’s find out.

What is the Average Yearly Salary of a Country Club Member?

We can say with accuracy that most members of exclusive country clubs have sizeable net worths and are almost certainly on salaries of at least six figures each year.

The exact amount however varies. After all, country clubs attract professionals from a range of industries, making it impossible to generalize the net worth of its members.

For instance, membership at Augusta National – the home of the Masters – is rumored to cost around $500,000 plus dues.

Its membership roll includes Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, highlighting just how exclusive and expensive membership of America’s most sought-after golf course really is.

Are Country Clubs for the Rich?

No, to become a member of an exclusive golf and country club, you need to have a reasonable amount of disposable income, but there are some country clubs that offer reasonable fees that are considered affordable to the average American household.

Membership in country clubs is something that has always been reserved for people who can afford the membership fees and annual dues. Historically, they served as safe havens for people with extreme wealth and status, but they have become a little more open in recent years.

Given that many country clubs cost several thousand dollars a month in dues, plus an initial joining fee that is typically in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands, it’s little surprise that membership of such venues has largely been seen as an opportunity only for the rich.

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So, while country clubs don’t stipulate that you need to have a specific net worth to join, you do need to be wealthy enough to afford the dues, and initial joining fee, meaning membership isn’t accessible for everyone – but this is dependent on locality and exclusivity of the private club in question.

Why Do Country Clubs Cost So Much?

The reason for the high fees at country clubs is that the facilities are maintained to exceptionally high standards, including the fairways and greens, as well as the clubhouse and various other features of the country club itself.

One of the main reasons that country club membership costs so much is that they were initially opened to serve as exclusive venues for the rich. The idea was that the wealthiest and most powerful men in the area would join the local country club and use it as their hub for social activity. 

While many country clubs have opened their membership up a little more today, the cost is still extremely high.  

Another point that’s worth noting is that exclusive country clubs are able to charge so much because people are willing to pay the prices.

The wealthiest people in the world are happy to pay whatever it costs to join country clubs of their choosing, as exemplified by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet joining Augusta National in Georgia.

What is the Most Expensive Country Club to Join in the US?

The most expensive golf and country club to join in the US is Augusta National in Georgia. The 300 members have all been required to pay an initiation fee of between $250,000 and $500,000, with annual dues on top.

Given that Augusta National is regularly voted as the number one golf club in the world, it’s perhaps little surprise to find it atop the list of the most expensive country clubs in the United States.

Check out a recent drone video of the famous clubhouse at Augusta National:

Second to Augusta National is Baltusrol Golf Club, which is located in New Jersey. Initiation is rumored to start at $150,000, while the dues are $18,500 annually. When you see these numbers, it’s not at all surprising that people think that country club membership is reserved for the rich and famous.

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The reality is that states all over the US are home to some of the most expensive and exclusive country clubs, with many requiring joining fees and membership dues of such high amounts that joining them is a mere pipe dream for most of us!

Is Joining a Country Club a Good Investment?

Yes, as it enables you to increase your social standing and connect with other wealthy people in your area, as the membership quota for country clubs is often extremely small compared to the interest in joining the club. Another reason is that it can help forge new business connections which can lead to lucrative contracts.

For normal, recreational golfers, It’s perhaps amiss to regard country club membership as an investment. After all, you’re required to spend a huge amount of money on initiation and dues, and the value of your investment won’t increase over time.

However, if you have a significant amount of disposable income and a high net worth, joining a country club is a great opportunity to experience playing some of the most iconic and sought-after golf clubs in the world.

The other thing to note is that most exclusive country clubs welcome new members by invitation only, and you can’t just submit an application to join the club.

So, if you find that you’re invited to join an exclusive country club in your area, and you have the money in the bank, there’s no reason why joining a club isn’t a good idea.

Are Country Club Dues Deductible?

No, the IRS has specifically denied the deduction of country clubs and athletic clubs when filing your tax return. This means that you need to pay for the cost of initiation and dues from your earnings, and you can’t claim them back after submitting your return.

This is true even if you use your country club membership predominantly to host and impress clients. So, no matter the expense of the country club membership that you sign up for, you won’t be able to claim the cost back on your annual tax return.

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Given that the vast majority of country club members are extremely wealthy, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

It’s reasonable to conclude that if you can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to play a golf course, you don’t need to recoup the costs on your tax return.

So, make sure you can afford the initiation fee and dues before signing up to an exclusive golf and country club, as you can’t claim the costs back at the end of the financial year.

Why Do Millennials Not Join Country Clubs?

The golf and country club phase really took off during the time of the baby boomers, and joining an exclusive club was seen as hugely important as far as status was concerned. However, millennials don’t share the same views as their parents when it comes to joining country clubs.

This is largely due to the fact that millennials can’t afford the fees that are required to join such clubs, and they don’t hold the same level of prestige with people of a younger age today.

Another issue for millennials is that the atmosphere within-country clubs are seen as stuffy and exclusive, which is far from a desirable social setup.

Instead, millennials engage with their friends and peers in other ways, and the traditional haunt of country clubs no longer holds the same appeal as it once did.

However, as is the case with everything, there are exceptions to this, and some millennials undoubtedly enjoy their membership in country clubs. But generally, country club membership is not as sought after as it once was.


There’s no getting away from the fact that golf and country club memberships are exclusively for the rich and successful. In addition to sizeable initiation fees, members are required to pay tens of thousands of dollars every year in dues, which makes country clubs inaccessible for many golfers.

However, if you’re in a healthy financial situation and you get invited to join a country club, go ahead and start the process and enjoy golf at one of the country’s most exclusive locations!