Home » Feature Story

How to sneak on to your local country club

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor

You drive your '88 Ford Tempo by it every day: the towering weeping willow trees, the line of silver Cadillacs, the gently rolling landscape and gated drive warning "members only". You'd sure like a chance to play this beauty and get the royal treatment, but holding you back is your middle management job with White Castle and about $50 grand in initiation fees.

But did you know every Jag-driving member of the club is a sucker? They've been had, and it's to your benefit. While they pay the big bucks to subsidize meticulously manicured fairways, scented soaps in the ball washers and bourgeoisies importance, you can play this same course for close to nothing. And there's no catch!

OK, there's one small rub.

If there are loopholes in paying taxes there are loopholes in the country club system as well. Employees are paid at the country club to stay out members' ways (note the 3 ½ foot rule in Caddyshack 2), but be involved just enough to ensure their shoes are buffed and their clubs are clean. Country club staff don't check ID's, grill for member numbers or check tee time sheets .. unless you give them a reason to. Here is a simple guide to playing your area's most exclusive courses, while paying less than it would to play nine holes at your local Pitch 'n Putt.

Step 1: Look the part

If what you wear on the course can usually be mistaken for someone attending a Jimmy Buffet concert, you're going to need a makeover. To pull this off, leave the Hawaiian shorts and tank top at home. Cut the price tag off the polo shirt your girlfriend got you last Christmas and put a fine crease in your khaki's. Budweiser hats are for NASCAR, not Shady Acres Country Club, so find a new Titleist visor. Also, see to it the car you pull up in isn't a total hunk of junk. If it is, at least give it a quick wash.


For some reason, most clubs feel the need to be closed one day of the week, and for most clubs, that day is Monday. The pro shop is closed, the carts are locked up and there are no range balls to hit.

Oddly enough, the grounds crew still comes out and does maintenance on the course early in the morning, leaving the flag stick and tees set. Since the staff has the day off, that means there is no starter to check your bag tag.

Employees are usually allowed on the course on Monday's, and since most clubs staff scores of employees, you can just say you're "Jimmy from services" or something vague enough to sound unimportant. True, there will be no carts to rent or caddies to slave drive, but the course will be open, in great shape, and begging for you to play.

Golf Communities

Most modern clubs are built around new housing developments, meaning there are 100 back yards leading right out to the fairway. Who says you have to start on the first hole? Just go ahead and park your car on the street somewhere in the middle of the course and wait for a gap in foursomes, then make your move. Do this late enough in the afternoon, and by the time you come to the turn, the starter has gone home for the night.

Let the members take care of you

This option requires some true finesse, but pull it off and you'll have a story to tell at the 19th hole for life.

Show up on a sunny Saturday afternoon and make your way to the practice green. Stroke some putts and make yourself part of the scenery. See if you can pick out a gentleman who will most likely be teeing off as a single. As he's warming up on the green, introduce yourself to him, claiming you've been a member for a couple years now, but your recent promotion in marketing has kept you away from the club. Your partner has canceled on you to go to his kid's baseball game and would you like to pair up?

Upon his agreement, go over to the starter and ask, "so when do we tee off?" Tell him that you are a guest of your new friend and he sent you over while he knocks in a few last-minute putts before tee off. If the starter asks why he's not slated with a guest, nonchalantly reply that they had just told the pro shop and "they're taking care of it" as we speak. Go ahead and tee off assuming the starter has faith in his co-workers.

Go ahead and enjoy the round. Bicker about the stock market and how you intend to blow your retirement savings on a beach house in the Bahamas. After the round, head to the men's locker room for a cold beer and a shoeshine. On the house, of course.

Once devilishly satisfied, make sure your beer is empty and he still has about a half beer to go. Tell your new friend it has been a pleasure getting to know another member of the club and hopefully we can do this again sometime but regretfully, you must get home to the ball and chain. Tell him the tab is on you and the bartender has "taken care of it". And most important, make your exit quick.

Some patience, selection and savvy are all you need to enjoy the amenities of your local club without forking over your kid's college fund. Think about it; all you've got to lose by failing is a little dignity and having to make another tee time at your local muni. Master these skills at your area's less prestigious clubs and you'll be teeing off at Augusta National in no time .. unless of course you are a woman.

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • How to be dishonest and unethical

    Cade Hamner wrote on: Jul 31, 2017

    Great advice Mr. Tucker. So, your point basically is to lie and con your way onto the course of a private club. That should work out really well in a game that's built on ethics, honesty, dignity, and strength of character. No doubt, the guy that sneaks onto a local course will also be telling his drinking buddies about his hole-in-one and the 67 he shot. Of course, no one will be there to witness it, his score card won't be available for peer review, and he'll have no handicap index. Hopefully, the IRS doesn't decide to audit you Mr. Tucker. I'm sure you've got advice for others in that area as well--with the tag line "taxes are for suckers."


      • RE: How to be dishonest and unethical

        Author wrote on: Jul 31, 2017

        It was a humor column tho


  • Unrealistic

    Jocko wrote on: Mar 27, 2017

    The Monday suggestion is a good one. The walking on during a weekend one is not. That scheme would fall apart in about 10 different ways. You'll look like a real a-hole when you're busted.