Sagebrush, Memphremagog, and Goodwood: $200,000 Golf

I have a story in today’s Financial Post Weekend about the rise of high-price private clubs in Canada. Here’s a taste:

MERRITT, B.C. -Richard Zokol walks up the incline of the land, wisps of grass growing in dark soil underneath his feet as he points to an area where he hopes players will hit their tee shots. We hustle up the hill to the green where Mr. Zokol, 49, a former winner on the PGA Tour who hails from Vancouver, looks out over a breathtaking view of rugged land that falls into a large lake.

“Isn’t this incredible?” Mr. Zokol asks, though it comes across as more of a statement.

Mr. Zokol hopes he isn’t the only one who is drawn to the sprawling vistas at Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club, his ultra-exclusive golf course and real estate development about an hour from Kamloops in the British Columbia Interior.

At a time when many private golf clubs across Canada are having difficulty attracting new, young members willing to kick out tens of thousands of dollars to join, Mr. Zokol’s Sagebrush is asking for a whopping $200,000 from prospective members, who would then pay annual dues of another $5,000. In turn, they’d be able to invite three other members who would pay annual fees of $7,500. The course is expected to be open next spring.

To many, building a private course away from typical suburban neighbourhoods where businessmen — and their chequebooks — are easily accessed seems like fiscal suicide. And in fact, public courses have become a popular model for new courses.

The full story is here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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