Country clubs are a feature of traditional Scottish golf culture that appeared in the United States in the early 1880s. A symbol of suburbanization and luxurious pastime, country clubs have a rich history as social status, accomplished sports groups and upscale dining establishments. These clubs range from open and accessible establishments to exclusive private membership.

While some clubs thrive and expand, others face challenges and eventually close their doors. You might be surprised to learn that as of 2020 there were over 24,000 country clubs in the US. To put it in perspective, that’s more than the number of McDonald’s locations. However, in the past few years the number of country clubs in the United States has declined, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related financial strain.

Despite this, country clubs remain a vibrant part of American leisure culture offering members and guests a variety of amenities and activities to enjoy. It may be clear that country clubs are an enduring feature of American suburbia but what makes them so prevalent?

Why are there so many?

The abundance of country clubs in the US can be attributed to several factors. First and perhaps most significantly, is the popularity of golf. The origins of country clubs are inextricably linked with golf, and as such, the sport has contributed to the proliferation of these establishments.

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But private clubs offer more than just golf; they offer amenities and services like dining, health and fitness, and others as a sense of community and connection, making them attractive destinations for individuals and families alike. Many build a close knit group of friends with other members while some enjoy the dining and family events. And the popularity of country clubs isn’t limited to the fifty states. Though country clubs are ingrained in American culture, their appeal extends globally into Japan, Spain and Australia.

Can you still get in?

Though we’ve lost some of the 24,000 country clubs in the United States, there are still plenty of opportunities to become a member and enjoy the amenities and social atmosphere they offer. Joining a club can be the perfect way to unwind after work or a lifelong goal for retirement, especially with California's beautiful mountain views. The variety of amenities makes it a worthwhile investment for many.

If you belong to a country club because of your love for golf, you might be wondering how the popularity of golf will impact your membership. Despite concerns that golf is a dying sport, the game continues to attract enthusiasts, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. What’s more, the cultural ties to the country club lifestyle means these venues will remain relevant and sought-after destinations for those seeking a luxurious and exclusive leisure experience.

I had filet mignon and some wine, and a tiramisu. Excellent service. And a good time was had by all.

— Karen C.

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