The Value of Private Club Membership

More clubs are offering discounts for younger members as emphasis is placed on club value.

Colorado’s private club landscape remains optimistic—both for clubs and for prospective members.  

While the post-recession upturn continues with initiations up 2.5 percent and monthly dues up 10 percent, most clubs are offering more discounts (and no-interest initiation financing) for younger members as well as lower-priced nonrefundable, non-equity memberships. 

Value is the operative word. On the programming side, clubs are offering more for the money than ever before. Monthly calendars brim with classes ranging from aerobics to tennis to Zumba, There are chef’s tables, wine tastings, themed dinners, kids’ enrichment programs, Sunday brunches and Wednesday family dinners.

Most clubs now emphasize their fitness centers, spa services, on-site childcare and family-centric, non-golf programming. Although golf courses remain a major amenity, “it’s now golf with a small ‘g’ instead of a capital ‘G,’ ” ClubCorp CEO Eric Affeldt told The New York Times last summer.

Around the same time, Affeldt’s publicly traded company purchased Sequoia Golf, which owned Colorado’s Blackstone Country Club and Black Bear Golf Club. Overnight, members of those clubs received, among other perks, premium access and benefits across a network of more than 300 owned, operated and alliance clubs around the country (including Aspen Glen Golf Club in Carbondale). ClubCorp this year has engaged in a multimillion-dollar “reinvention” of both Blackstone and Black Bear.

A similar transformation has taken place in Parker at The Pinery Country Club and The Club at Pradera. In 2013, Dallas-based Arcis Equity Partners purchased the clubs from BrightStar Golf Group. It contracted Columbia Hospitality to manage them.

Thanks to an infusion of capital, over the past year and a half, both Parker courses have significantly upgraded operations and invested heavily in infrastructure, facilities and programming. “We’ve changed the culture of both clubs,” says Chris Johnson, PGA General Manager at The Pinery, who came over from Valley Country Club in Centennial. “For the first time in a long time, the members aren’t expecting failure.”

Columbia hasn’t given them reason to. Better yet, many are elevating their experience by signing up for the Summit Membership, which gives them privileges at both clubs. For additional $60 per month, existing members at either club can play the other course for a cart fee, have access to 11 tennis courts (eight outdoor and three indoor), three swimming pools, two fitness centers and double their dining options, family programming, kids and social events.

To sign up for the Summit Membership, new members first need to designate which of the two will serve as their home club. The Summit Memberships also come in Golf and Sports (limited golf) versions.

Situated less than five miles apart, The Pinery and Pradera “both have unique strengths that work together,” says Mark Lewicki, who serves as membership director of both clubs. The 10-year-old Pradera’s majestic clubhouse and mindboggling Jim Engh-designed “Irish links” course give it a “wow factor,” while the older Pinery’s cozier clubhouse mirrors the intimacy, maturity and diversity of its three appropriately named nines—Lake, Mountain and Valley.

Both clubs feature expansive practice facilities and robust golf programs.  The Pinery’s strong tennis—130 kids are in the winter program alone—and swim programs appeal to families, as do Pradera’s myriad family night activities, and summer outdoor events like concerts and drive-in movies. 

The food and ambience rock at both clubs. Each offers a fine dining menu on specified nights (Pradera on Thursdays and Fridays; The Pinery Fridays and Saturdays), and members at both clubs can join a Wine Club, which features tastings, discounted purchases and the ability to locker up to 12 wines in climate controlled lockers in the dining rooms.

Summit members receive complimentary clinics in both golf and tennis, as well as two adult and two youth full-day lift tickets. They also get a 20% discount at both clubs for à la carte dining, as well as complimentary quarterly signature events at both facilities.

The Summit membership doubles the fun for members at The Pinery and Pradera for a modest amount. It’s just one of the many examples of how Colorado’s private club landscape—which had been bleak for a while—finds itself reinvigorated.


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