Five Super Exclusive Private U.S. Golf Clubs

Teed up by: Gunner Bonebrake

Getting Through the Gates Is Just the First Step

Private golf clubs are not exclusive to their members; however, some clubs are just a lot more private than others. Let's say you're a member at a quality private club in Dallas and you're vacationing in Miami…there's a possibility you're head pro in Dallas can make a call to a private club in Miami and get you on the course. You will pay a hefty guest fee, and they might make you play with a member, but you can get through the gates. However, there are some "super private" clubs, which means you better know someone. If you don't have the blessing and invite from a member, you aren't getting in. And even when you think you're home free, please make sure you're familiar with local club rules.

Don't be the "Ugly American!"

Case-in-point, a group of Americans were running late for their tee time at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland, one of the world's best golf courses. They called the pro shop to let them know they were a bit behind schedule, to which the club complied and said it was okay. The Americans thought they were in the clear but made a fatal mistake. In a rush, upon arriving, the Americans changed into their golf shoes in the parking lot—subsequently, the club asked them leave.

The moral of the story is this: even when you've made it through the gates, be respectful of local rules as well as the rules of golf, be courteous, and don't forget—you are a guest. Change shoes in the locker room, never wear a hat inside, be respectful of everyone, and be aware of where you can and cannot wear golf shoes.

GolferScore has compiled a shortlist of some elite U.S. courses; here are five super-private clubs—if you get an invite, take it and try not to get kicked out!

Cypress Point Club

Cypress Point Club | Pebble Beach, California

Designed by Alister MacKenzie, the same guy that designed Augusta National Golf Club, this gem on the Monterrey Peninsula is one of the most heralded of them all. Bob Hope is famous for saying, "One year they had a big membership drive at Cypress. They drove out 40 members." The views there along the rough coastline are some of the best in the world.

Pine Valley Golf Club

Pine Valley Golf Club | Pine Barrens, New Jersey

About 20 miles south of Philadelphia is one of the best golf courses in the world. A true challenge for a proper player, the course is cut from southwest New Jersey's sand pine barrens. Fairways can be hard to hit; the bunkers are hell, and distance control is of the essence.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Shinnecock Hills | Southampton, New York

You are required to play with a member at Shinnecock Hills, not surprising. They won't allow four guests to roam freely unattended, so a member must come along. It works out better for everyone—a member can help with suggestions off the tee and on/around the green.

Shinnecock is rather famous for hosting the U.S. Open on multiple occasions, perhaps its most famous for the 1995 edition. That year, Corey Pavin won his only major—his four wood on #18 to seal the deal is legendary. In 1995, a 7,000-yard golf course was the exception, and watching Pavin at 5' 9" was something to remember. 

Chicago Golf Club

Chicago Golf Club | Wheaton, Illinois

We love the Windy City. Nothing is better than pounding Old Styles at Wrigley. Perhaps teeing it up at Chicago Golf Club comes close. The club is one of five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association (USGA), and CGC is the oldest 18-hole course in North America. The last time the CGC played host to a major event was the Walker Cup in 2005. Most prestigious clubs avoid hosting a lot of events—they don't need or want the attention.

Augusta National Golf Club

Augusta National Golf Club | Augusta, Georgia

It's no surprise, Augusta is the most exclusive private club in the world. Famous for the Magnolia Lane entrance and pimento cheese sandwiches, everything at Augusta is regal. Even the putting green equipment is state of the art. The SubAir equipment is basically an underground wonderland that helps keep Augusta's greens perfect. Here's an indication of how stuffy private membership can be. Augusta banned popular CBS announcer Gary McCord from the Masters for saying that the fast greens were "bikini waxed." Everyone thought it was funny, except its 300 members. 

Speaking of private golf clubs, check out the Champions Retreat Golf Club if you're heading to Augusta. During Masters week, this club opens up for public use and provides stay and play accommodations for those with a baller’s budget!

Don't pass up the chance to play these, or any other private golf clubs, if an invitation comes your way. You will have a memorable experience from the clubhouse's grand architectural design to the manicured fairways and greens and all the history in between. Have any shareable unique or funny incidents from your rounds at private golf clubs?

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