While membership at Oahu Country Club is “;somewhat in the normal range of attrition”;—down 1.4 percent from a year ago—the organization indefinitely cut its initiation fee by half in September to $15, 000 and loosened payment terms in response to the economic downturn, according to General Manager Loren Pippin.
WHAT IT COSTS TO JOIN THE FUN
A sampling of initiation fees and monthly dues at some of Oahu's private clubs. Rates vary depending on type of membership and resident/ nonresident status:
Hoakalei Country Club:
$30, 000, $325
Waialae Country Club:
$67, 300, $470
Outrigger Canoe Club:
Several hundred up to $15, 000, $194
Honolulu Country Club:
$35, 000, $440
Mid-Pacific Country Club:
$16, 500, $458
Oahu Country Club:
$15, 000, $478
The Pacific Club:
$5, 000, $286
At the same time, the organization hired a membership marketing director to boost recruiting efforts at the private, member-owned club, which has about 975 members.
“;Membership in a private club like ours is a privilege and luxury, so we're committed to that type of lifestyle, ”; Pippen said. “;It's a commitment financially, there's no question about it.”;
Cutting fees and delaying renovations are among the ways some of Hawaii's private clubs are dealing with a slowing economy.
“;Clubs are a luxury item, so everybody's hunkering down in the economy and people are looking at what are their main costs, ”; said real estate and business consultant Stephany Sofos. In October, she dropped her membership at the Honolulu Club, one of two private club memberships she has held for 28 years.
Mid-Pacific Country Club cut its proprietary membership initiation fee by 34 percent a year ago to $16, 500, from $25, 000, and began offering three-month trial memberships in May. Total membership—at 733—has been decreasing for the past two years, having been more than 800 in July 2006. The drop is primarily due to an increase in the number of golf courses on each island and an overall reduction in the number of average rounds of golf played in Hawaii, according to Tim Dietrich, Mid-Pacific general manager.
“;No one's rushing right now to spend money, that's for sure, ”; he said.
“;Basically, the Wall Street blowout exacerbated the situation. It made a bad situation worse.”;
In addition, country club demographics have turned to younger members in their 30s, whose values and aspirations have changed from those of the clientele of 15 years ago, Dietrich said.
“;The country club is not as important as it was in the past, ”; he said. “;It has to do with family time and family values—more time with family rather than the traditional male-dominated country club scene, ”; he said.