Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club considers new membership categories

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club is considering two new membership categories granting playing privileges to significant others and extended family. The Rancho Santa Fe Association board gave feedback on the proposed categories at its March 5 meeting.

Manager Al Castro said the “extended family” membership targets those who have not used their membership for several years, but do not intend to move out of the Covenant. Rather than cancel their membership, it would allow their children or grandchildren to continue using the membership.

“This provides a method for the Golf Club to keep a membership active and avert a cancellation, particularly when there is not new ownership on the new parcel,” Castro said.

The designee pays a transfer fee of $10,000.

The “significant other” membership is for the number of golf members who are unmarried or divorced but living with a significant other. Only one request may be submitted per fiscal year and only one significant other is allowed, which prompted a few chuckles at the meeting.

The golf club is also cleaning up its “former resident member” category by eliminating the resident associate member category.

Resident associate members are those who were Covenant homeowners for at least 10 years who no longer own property in Covenant, yet have the same rights as a regular member, including the right to vote. These members will be folded into the “former resident” category: 10-year club members who no longer own property in the Covenant, do not have voting rights and pay 10 percent additional dues.

The board was strongly in favor of this change as well as the “significant other” category, but less enthusiastic about the “extended family” membership.

Board members remarked that the volume of different membership types being created was confusing, and that the emphasis always seems to be allowing more people who live outside the Covenant to participate.

Board member Kim Eggleston encouraged the golf board to think more “globally” and more “long-term,” such as how the club will survive if it gets down to 350 members (membership stands at 499). He said dues are kept relatively low in comparison with other clubs, and yet there is a barrier to join with the $50,000 entry fee. One of the fastest-growing categories has been the junior executive membership, which allows younger members to join and pay $50,000 in installments. He said even if they doubled their monthly fees, they would still be “incredibly competitive.”

Eggleston said they should consider offering a menu of entry fees, to allow people to join at a lower up-front cost but pay more in monthly dues.

“I’d like to see a more long-term perspective instead of this Band-Aid approach,” Eggleston said.

Vice President Craig McAllister agreed that the emphasis should be on lowering the barrier of entry to all members of the community, rather than allowing more non-Covenant residents to participate.