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View Full Version : Pros and Cons of Joining a Private Club


gordo
04-21-2009, 08:02 AM
I have been playing at municipal tennis centers and free public park courts for a few years. I am trying to decide whether or not I should look in to joining a tennis club. Discuss . . .

larry10s
04-21-2009, 08:10 AM
the pros of joining a club is based on the level of players and type of people who join. if it offers you enough of a group of players who you enjoy playing with plus whatever other amenities like clay courts restaurant swimming pool etc thats a plus. the cons are since you see the same people all the time you can get in a rut by playing the same people over and over. ther is always alittle bit of peyton placein a club setting . lastly the extra expence. i am amember of a club because the courts fitness center clubhouse and fellow members make it a worthwhile experience.

Cindysphinx
04-21-2009, 08:25 AM
I am having the same dilemma.

A friend invited me to play at her country club, which is very near my house. Brand new indoor pool and indoor courts, and immaculate outdoor clay courts. We played doubles, with the birds chirping and without anyone on the nearby courts. Nice bathrooms with showers, toiletries and cushy towels too. Paradise!

The next day, I went out to the nearest public courts to practice my serve. There was a steaming pile of dog crap right in the middle of the court. Is it asking too much to play on courts without feces? Apparently so.

But club memberships cost a lot, and the fact that I can so often play for free means I can use that money for instruction. Given a fixed tennis budget, I can spend it to get better or to play exactly the way I play now in pampered luxury, not both.

So I guess I will go put some more plastic bags in the car for picking up crap off of tennis courts . . . .

Casey10s
04-21-2009, 08:32 AM
Pros (Joining a club)

You can reserve courts ahead of time and you know the minimum court time you have. With this, you know when you can get a court and you don't have to wait.
The facilities are usually in better condition.
You don't have to put up with poor tennis etiquette (e.g., someone walking on your court because he couldn't get good cell reception on his court).
Less chance of having a first time tennis player on the court beside you.
Better service (usually not some high school kid or no person at all).

Cons

The cost is somewhat more.
Some people can be very diva-like.
Club management can be a pain at times.


From my perspective, except for the cost, a private club beats municipal courts on all counts. I belong to 2 clubs and I also play on public courts so I have a good feel for both. At least in my area, you can't reserve a public court very easily and the final cost is not much less than going to a private club.

Jack the Hack
04-21-2009, 09:05 AM
I think the answers above pretty much explain the basics. From my personal experience, here are the two instances where I decided to join a private club:

1.) A few years after graduating from college, I was feeling like I needed a new challenge to keep me motivated in tennis. There happened to be one private club in town that had clay courts, and I had only played on clay a couple times. They were running a special where there was no initiation fee, so I joined primarily to have access to the clay and learn to play on that surface. I think I was there for about 18 months. I went from getting my butt handed to me on the clay to finally getting wins over the two best players in the club on those courts. I never learned to slide properly, but got used to the bad bounces and extra shots you have to hit on clay. I also played on the club's USTA league team, used the workout room, and took an occassional fitness class. I ended up leaving because I got burned out on tennis again and my job changed.

2.) I joined my current private club because the public facility that I was playing out of changed the monthly rate of their family memberships to $90. That may seem like a steal, however, getting court time was nearly impossible because the memberships were oversold and they squeezed too many lesson groups (primarily for juniors) into the prime court times. The front desk staff was also indifferent or just rude/idiotic at times, and the best players only liked to practice in their own little group. The public facility also only had tennis and racquetball courts, so there was no pool or workout facilities. The private club I joined has two pools, a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, two workout gyms, basketball and racquetball courts, golf, and of course tennis. The family membership is $150 per month, and they had a special where the initiation was only $50. I'm spending $60 more a month, but my whole family is enjoying all the features, so it's a much better deal.

Like all gym-type memberships, if you are actually going to use the features of the facility 4-7 times per week, then it's well worth it to join. However, if you are only doing sporadic activity, you'd be better off doing "pay per play" or free in public facilities.

GeoffB
04-21-2009, 09:24 AM
I play on public courts around San Francisco. I'd like to join a club, but so far, it just hasn't made sense for me.

The reason I haven't joined is largely the expense and the difficulty of bringing guests to a private club. Most of my hitting buddies are content with public courts right now, and I don't really want to have to pay a guest fee (or ask them to) every time we play. Right now, I play 3-4 times a week, almost always with buddies who aren't in a club. I'm fairly busy (that three year old thing), so it's very unlikely I'm going to manage to get in any more tennis - which means I'd probably get very little use out of the club.

That said, I'm still very tempted. First off, the courts at private clubs really are much better maintained (and a few have indoor courts, which would be nice during the winter). While some of the public courts around SF are newly resurfaced, many are pretty bad - even Golden Gate Park - supposedly the crown jewel of SF public tennis, badly needs resurfacing. Second, the amenities, especially a pool, would be really nice. I take my kid to public pools, and they're actually not bad (both the indoor ones in SF and the outdoor ones outside the city where it's warm). But if I joined a club with reciprocal memberships outside the city where it's warm, we'd enjoy that a lot.

All in all, I just can't justify the expense. I get what I need from public facilities, and while they aren't quite as nice, they do the trick. That, combined with the fact that my community of players is public-court based, pretty much means I won't be joining a private club any time soon.

zapvor
04-21-2009, 10:24 AM
i think location is a factor. if you live in a place where public courts are abundant there is no need. but if weather is an issue, or if you have family and want a lockeroom, etc than it may make more sense. of course tehre is the cost issue too.

sureshs
04-21-2009, 10:32 AM
At my previous location, I used to play in a private club with hard and clay courts, sauna, locker rooms, jacuzzi, heated Olympic pool, restaurant, and match making services for $150 a month, no initiation fee. I can get into a similar one here for $75 a month, but no restaurant, and a $600 initiation fee. But I play at a semi-public club with nothing but hard courts and a tiny bathroom for $250 a year. But I can make reservations.

sureshs
04-21-2009, 10:36 AM
One more thing to consider before joining a country club (and they are not just for the rich any more - many are in financial trouble and will accept anyone) is that the level of play can be low. Same people, all the time, and no fresh blood to shake things up.

goober
04-21-2009, 10:37 AM
Totally area dependent.

There are some public facilities where I live that are on par with the private clubs in what condition the courts are in. In some cases the public facilites are actually better.

At the public facilities I go to you can make reservations. They have a pro shop and locker facilities with showers. They have leagues, drop in play and tournaments. I decided there was no reason to join a private club.

The only thing that private clubs have are gym facilities and a spa both of which I don't care about. Some have restaurants on site and other amenities. Private clubs have more social functions and are more socially exclusive which is not something I was looking for.

The level of play is actually not that high at many clubs. It certainly is not higher overall compared to public facilities. They have some good players but everybody over rates themselves with "club ratings".

Casey10s
04-21-2009, 12:05 PM
Many of you are talking about country clubs and not private tennis facilities. There is a big difference. Most country clubs are golf first. Private tennis facilities are something different. These places emphasize tennis first. They may have pools and workout areas or they may not. In my area, many of the better players play at these places and they usually have a good junior program.

There are some public facilities which can compare to a private tennis club but in my area, they are only a small percentage. Out of 10 to 20 good public courts in my area. Only about 3 of them have anything more than courts, water fountains, and a few benches to use.

As for cost, one of the clubs (tennis only) I belong to is only $225 per year for a single membership. 6 courts inside, 4 outside. $10 to $26 per hour depending on time of day, indoor/outdoor, and day of week. $175 for an all outdoor pass (can reserve 2 hours at a time). Of course, one can only play outdoors maybe 5 months out of the year. Small initiation fee ($50 to $75???)

At one of the better outdoor municipal facilities, $275 for a year pass or pay $6 every time you play (singles/doubles/per hour - they don't kick you off unless there are people waiting - I have played 3 hour matches there for that $6 price but I also have been kicked off after an hour several times). Same place put bubbles up in the winter. Court time is $20 to $28 an hour depending on time of the week. Almost all courts are contract time (over 90% of the total hours available) so it is very difficult to get walk-on time.

LuckyR
04-21-2009, 12:36 PM
I have been playing at municipal tennis centers and free public park courts for a few years. I am trying to decide whether or not I should look in to joining a tennis club. Discuss . . .

Too little info to answer your question correctly. Do you live where indoor courts are a must in the winter? If not, are there lots of public courts around? Do you have other reasons for getting a club membership (pools, golf etc)? Is money an issue? blah blah blah...

Garbage in, garbage out.