Tee Time: A selection of The World's Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
It is widely accepted that modern-day Golf originated in 15th Century Scotland, officially becoming a recognised sport in 1744. Its history, however, is much debated with Scots claiming it was born and evolved solely in Scotland whilst those across the pond say it derived from the Roman sport of Paganica in which participants would hit a stuffed ball with a bent stick. Whatever its birthplace, its heritage is firmly rooted in Scotland - the word “caddie” derives from the French word “cadet”, the name Mary Queen of Scots used for her aides.
A globally popular sport, hobbyists can take a leisurely weekend round, whilst more dedicated players use courses as just another place of business, combining deal negotiations with tee-time. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the world’s most exclusive clubs as well as options within Dubai.
The World’s Most Elite Clubs
Augusta National, Georgia USA
Designed by championship golfer Bobby Jones, Augusta is instantly recognizable as one of the world’s premier golf clubs and is a host course for the Masters tournament. Unlike most clubs, Augusta is a for-profit organization and therefore keeps details of fees, memberships and club benefits under wraps. Historically a male-only club, the rules were changed in 2012 when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was welcomed as a member. She was joined by Wall Street business woman Darla Moore and the club used their membership as a publicity driver, in stark contrast to their normally secretive membership practices. At least 4 other women are believed to have since joined the club, whose membership also includes Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Numbers are kept small, at around 300 people and are strictly by invitation only - initiation fees range from $250-500,000. The club has faced some criticism in the past for its membership views, but nevertheless remains top of global rankings.
Shanqin Bay, China
Located on the Southeast Coast of Hainan Island, Shanqin Bay is just a 1 hour flight from Hong Kong. Overlooking South China Sea, the course has a unique topography given its cliffside position, with open sea on 3 sides and makes for rounds that will challenge even the most seasoned of golfers. The clubhouse is positioned to maximise the views sloping down over the course and over the uninterrupted, open skyline. Unfortunately, the signature 17th fairway was repurposed by the Chinese Government in 2017 when saplings were planted to “create a windbreak” but long-term this has not adversely affected the course, nor diminished its desirability. Despite the availability of golf courses in China, Shanqin Bay is the only one to feature in the world’s top 100 courses - a superb achievement considering the incredible courses available. Membership is exceptionally exclusive, with under 50 members on the roster and fees believed to run in excess of $1m. For this hefty fee, you are assured world-class service which starts before you even arrive at the course.
Royal and Ancient, St Andrews, Scotland
Any article about golf would be incomplete without mention of Royal and Ancient (here noted as the R&A, which is actually a separate division related to the Royal and Ancient). The oldest club in the world, it was founded in 1754 and has retained many of its original, strict codes and regulations including a traditional dress code. Women were not permitted in the club until 2015, with Princess Anne becoming the first ‘honorary female member’. Several female pro-golfers followed suit and the club now has a diversified membership roster as well as tournaments that cater to both male and female players. As you would expect, membership is by invitation only and fees are kept private.
Congressional Country Club, Maryland, USA
The infamous club where Congress meets business is located in Maryland, and opened its doors in 1924. It’s ‘blue’ course, one of two 18-hole courses, has hosted 5 major championships and it is kept in rotation for many other large scale competitions. It has undergone many renovations over the years and is known for its rolling terrain and challenging greens. The club's list of famous players is long, but includes names such as founding lifetime member Woodrow Wilson and it is considered one of, if not the most prestigious club in the world. As well as its golf facilities, its massive clubhouse (the largest in the USA) has bowling facilities, a ballroom and multiple dining outlets. There is a 10 year waiting list for membership, with initiation fees in excess of $150,000.
Dubai’s Best Clubs
Dubai Hills Golf Club
One of the city’s newest venues, Dubai Hills is an 18-hole par-72 championship course designed by European Golf Design (EGD). The clubhouse offers lovely facilities, including two dining outlets offering brunches as the perfect wind-down after a casual round. Membership benefits include complimentary golf carts and a range of discounts on Emaar-run food, beverage and leisure destinations. A single full membership will cost AED 27,995 whilst a family will cost AED 39,995. Both memberships are subject to an additional AED 5,000 joining fee plus Emirates Golf Federation affiliation, currently AED 420 per adult.
Address Montgomerie, Emirates Hills
In the exclusive community of Emirates Hills, Address Montgomerie has positioned itself as Dubai’s premier golf club, with an exceptional course enjoying uninterrupted skyline views and world-class amenities and member facilities. The club plays host to the Dubai Desert Classic as well as other tournaments and is an excellent choice for residents seeking a challenging, yet fulfilling course. Single fees start at AED 32,025 and family starts at AED 44,625 - benefits include 7 day course access, plus gym and pool access plus food, beverage and spa discounts.
There are of course other options, such as Jumeirah Golf Estates, which boasts two courses - Fire and Earth, each with a unique layout and challenges. A DP world tour championship course, the club also boasts an excellent clubhouse and is popular with golfers from all over the city. If you can’t choose just one club, consider a membership that includes reciprocal rates at several of Dubai’s best, plus access to European network clubs for when you’re travelling. Expect to pay for the privilege though - joining fees for these memberships are around AED 10,000 in addition to membership fees of around AED 54,000.
For those new to the city, Dubai’s Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) uses the USA handicap system - new joiners must play 5 rounds of 18 holes, accompanied by a club member, and completed cards must be submitted for verification.
With Dubai’s golf courses strategically located around the city, you’re sure to find a club close to wherever you choose to live. If you need some help deciding, please contact our Private Client Advisors today who can give you the very best tailored advice and support. Some of them even have an excellent handicap if you want to discuss property on the course.