How Colorado Golf Clubs are Working to Keep Pace with Growing Demand




The people who run private golf clubs in Colorado like to give their members what they want. That has often been good service, good golf, good food, good amenities, and a place to feel good about being a member of.

But as the golfing population has gotten younger with the explosion of interest generated during the Covid era, clubs are finding that they have to evolve too.

The millennial generation is the largest single group in the U.S. now; there are more of them than baby boomers, Gen-X, and the Gen-y young’uns coming up behind them. There are more than 72 million people in the U.S. between the ages of 28 and 43, and some days it seems like all of them have moved to Colorado and are in line for a tee time.

To keep their memberships strong, many clubs are fishing where the fish are, evolving to cater to this new type of member.

The Ranch Country Club and Hiwan Golf Club are among the clubs adding amenities aimed at young parents. They have daycare services available for older children for parents to use when they come for classes, golf or dinners, and summer camps that are intended to provide a good experience using the club’s pools and courses.

Now the clubs are working to set up care services for even younger.

“Many prospective members are looking for year-round daycare starting at infant age,” said Micah Levensen, director of membership for both clubs.

The average age of their members 10 years ago was 64; today it is 51.

“We have tons of young families,” she said.

As always, the trends in affordability remain in the eye of the beholder.

Almost all clubs raised their monthly dues, according to our annual survey of clubs that is printed later in this edition.

Several clubs have pushed their initiation fees past $200,000 and several of the old-guard clubs are no longer releasing publicly how much they are charging new members.

For clubs that are offering good service, however, they find they are still getting new members.

“I thought with the way the economy is going and inflation it would affect membership, but it was still a very good year last year,” said Tracey Kalata, membership director at Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado Springs.

Judging by the number of pickleball courts being added at clubs all across Colorado, the sport is well beyond its early days when people curiously explored this new pastime. Pickleball now is a bona fide expectation for many club members.

“Like the rest of the world, we are adding an additional three pickleball courts to our existing four,” said David P. Chadbourne, the general manager of the Maroon Creek Club in Aspen. “There is a big demand that isn’t going away anytime soon.”

Courses from Cherry Hills Country Club to Aspen Glenn and everywhere in between have included golf simulator bays as an important part of recent renovations. The number of players enjoying ‘off-grass’ golf in the U.S. is growing at an even steeper rate than on-course participation.

Aspen Creek is an example of a club that spent 2023 keeping pace with the amenities-arms race that all clubs face – trying to keep up-to-date across the board from their golf courses to the clubhouse and beyond.

“Last year we finished a course renovation including redoing all of our bunkers,” said James Folske, the membership director for Aspen Glen in Carbondale. “We put in all new bunker liners, new sand and even moved many locations to make our course more up to date with the modern times and equipment that has changed the game. Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II came back out to be a part of this process and to keep us a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.”

Clubs are also finding that members are using them, in some cases, more than before. Things have changed quite a bit in the past 10 years, and whether it is simply providing a place where it is possible to get a tee time, or else a good community of people with shared interests, today’s private clubs are finding that when they provide a good experience, their members stay happy.

“Post-covid everyone is wanting to be more connected and interacting on a social level,” Chadbourne said.



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