It has always been a dream of mine to belong to a country club, and a couple of weeks ago I brought that dream to fruition by dropping off the check for my first year’s dues at North Hills Country Club in Menomonee Falls.
I have lived within walking distance of North Hills for seven years, but have yet to step foot on the course. I hear it’s beautiful, though, and reached out to a few people whose golf knowledge and opinions I respect very much.
“I absolutely love North Hills. I’d rank it third among private courses in SE Wisconsin behind only Milwaukee CC and Blue Mound. The greens are lightning fast and very pure. I’ve played it probably 12-15 times over the years and it’s always in immaculate shape. There’s a good mix of short and long holes, with a great collection of par-3s. I know a few members there and it seems to be a good club. Plus, Ed Terasa is the club professional and there is none better in the business… All in all, I think it’s a top-notch club and facility.”
Those are the words of probably Wisconsin’s most highly regarded golf writer.
Brian Weis, Owner of GolfWisconsin, GolfTrips and more than 30 other golf-related sites, echoed the same sentiments for North Hills, as did a friend of mine at work who added that he will trade rounds at North Hills for rounds at Milwaukee Country Club, happily.
When I was able to work out an affordable rate with the club, my decision was easy.
The tough part now is waiting for this March weather to be a bit more Spring-like so the course can start drying up and head toward playability. This time last year I’d already been out a handful of times in Wisconsin. We could be looking at another month or longer before the season truly opens this year, though, according to all of the GM’s and Pro’s I’d spoken with at the Milwaukee golf expo last weekend.
North Hills reopens this week, though, and I’ve got my locker picked out and look forward to using the facilities, including their downstairs hitting bays and of course the restaurant and bar, as well as the whirlpool and sauna (the two things I miss most about membership at the Wisconsin Athletic Club).
Another great thing I look forward to is the reciprocity agreements between North Hills and other Milwaukee area private courses. I am told the only one without reciprocity is the world-renowned Milwaukee Country Club, which I obviously hope to play, anyways.
Blue Mound, Westmoor and Tuckaway (which two of my friends joined this year) are all in my sites for 2013 already.
Interested in joining a country club? Consider a few things first:
1. Location, location, location: Is it near enough to you that you will be able to take advantage of it’s course and amenities on a regular basis, making the investment worthwhile? Consider a dollar amount you deem worth paying for a course of it’s caliber, and then how many times you will have to use it to get to that number. How likely is that number for you, and will you enjoy that adventure?
2. The Cost: Do they have a membership program that allows you to join in a financially responsible way? North Hills, for example, has programs in place to allow younger prospective members to pay lower dues based on their age and forfeiture of voting rights.
Also consider food and beverage costs. Any country club will require a minimum spend on food and drinks at their facilities, so make sure A) That you can afford and will meet these costs, and B) That the club’s restaurant and bar are reputable enough that you will want to frequent them. For me, being able to have a few drinks and walk home sells itself alone, even though I also hear excellent things about their food.
3. The Course: If you have not played it, ask around! Find out what people who have played it think, and aim to find out if it is the kind of course you will not get sick of playing often.
Four of the six people I spoke with about North Hills proactively told me there are no weak or gimmicky holes. Most of them have played tournaments at the club, or have played it often with friends or family members who are active members.
I also did an extensive review of the North Hills Country Club website, and Google image searches for pictures of the course. Pictures like this one have been on my wallpaper for weeks:
4. The Amenities: Does the club offer the amenities that you and your family desire? North Hills does not have a pool, which is unfortunate, but my parents do and it gives me another good reason to visit them often during the summer months.
This may be a setback for others, though, especially players with a spouse and/or kids who would like to spend time around the pool while they hit the links.
For me, the practice facilities are important, and North Hills is known to have great ones.
5. The Staff: Does the club have a quality reputation for training? As my friend above mentioned, Eddie Terasa is a very well-respected member of the Wisconsin golf community and is also one of Wisconsin’s very best golfers.
6. The Community: Will you fit in? This is the one aspect I have yet to figure out about North Hills, but with the welcoming I have received from quite a few members already, I feel really good about it. I also already know four members who I look forward to playing with this season.
Another thing to consider is that country clubs provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity for networking! I have a set sales territory that I work with, so I am not looking to find new clientele at North Hills, but it could obviously help expand my network of business professionals and friends in the Milwaukee area, which is never a bad thing.
Country club membership is obviously a big financial decision, so make sure you are ready for it and that it will not affect you too harshly in the pocketbook. Also make sure you will get your money’s worth. I certainly intend to at mine.
For pictures of North Hills’ course taken by Brian Weis last season, please check out this slideshow on GolfWisconsin.com: