Different Types of Club / Classification of Clubs

The private club industry is stratified by facilities that cater to unique user needs surrounding social, recreational, and financial needs. In answering these needs, in most cases private clubs are logically located in an area where people choose to recreate, socialize, or conduct business. The following are brief definitions that delineate the different club types.

City club

A club that typically offers its members food and beverage service. A city club usually is located in a downtown or urban location. In addition to member dining areas, a city club usually has a variety of meeting rooms. Most city clubs are more formal than country or golf clubs because of its emphasis on business entertainment. Some established clubs have overnight lodging accommodations. In almost all instances, a city club offers one or more restaurants, beverage outlets, serve lunch and dinner, and cater special parties for their members.

Country club

A club that typically offers its members and families a variety of activities and services. A country club is usually located in the country or suburbs because of the large amount of land needed for the golf course. In addition to a golf course a country club usually has tennis courts, a swimming pool, golf driving range, short game practice area, and a golf pro shop. The clubhouse usually accommodates a casual dining area (grill), upscale dining (main dining room), ballroom, board room (meeting room), and locker rooms. Other sports activities/areas at some country clubs are fitness centers, croquet and other lawn games, equestrian centers, skeet shooting areas, archery, cross country skiing, etc.

Yacht club

A club that is typically on a body of water with members who have an interest in boating (sailboats or powerboats). Some yacht clubs are exclusively for sailboats, while some are for a specific class or type of boat (e.g., Laser, Thistle, etc.). Most yachts clubs today allow both sailboats and powerboats. Clubs usually provide marina services, such as dry docking, refueling, boat maintenance, boating lessons, etc.

Most yacht clubs usually have a clubhouse providing food and beverage service and locker rooms. Some also have a swimming pool and other sports facilities.

Golf club

A club that is similar to a country club but usually only has golf as its sole recreational activity. The clubhouse is usually smaller thanthat at a country club with small member dining areas and a limited meeting/ballroom area.

Health club

Health clubs are positioned to address the needs of a time-compressed society and stressful lifestyle of its membership by offering access to personal use of fitness equipment and physical conditioning programs. In most cases, personal trainers can be obtained by paying for these services.

City-athletic club

A city club (business food and beverage) that usually has sports facilities. This type of club is usually located in the city and has extensive indoor and outdoor sports programs. Typical activity areas at this type of club are fitness centers, exercise classes, tennis, squash, racquetball, swimming pool, massage services, barber/ beauty shops, ice-skating, etc.

Member-owned club

A club that is usually owned by its members which means that the members have invested in the club. This club is usually governed by a Board of Directors or Board of Governors who typically set policies and procedures. The club’s manager usually reports to the Board and is responsible for implementing the rules, services, and amenities that the majority of members desire.

Corporate club

A club owned by a company, partnership, or individual. Most of these clubs offer similar products and services as member-owned club. The main difference is governance of the club and it is typically run to make a profit or be an amenity for another product the owner has. One of the largest companies that own and manage clubs for a profit is ClubCorp.

Developer club

A club usually started by a real estate developer. The initial purpose of most developer clubs is to offer an amenity (the club) to individuals interested in purchasing a home in the development. Usually real estate lots in a club development are more appealing, therefore more valuable and produce more revenue for the developer.

The club is usually sold or given to the members (becoming a member-owned club at that time) after the developer sells and develops the majority of the real estate lots in the development.

Military club

A club usually open to a specific branch of the military for its officers and enlisted personnel (e.g., Army Navy Club, etc.)

University club

A club usually open to faculty, staff, alumni, and students of a specific university. Some clubs that have the name of the University Club in a city (e.g., Houston and Dallas, Texas) are not directly affiliated with a specific school, but may be near one or have the name because of the prestige associated with it.

Equity club

A club where the members or shareholders receive a portion or all of the up-front fees paid when a member resigns or leaves the club. This club usually has two components to the upfront fee that a candidate for membership pays when they join the club. The first component is the initiation fee which the club receives and it is usually used for capital projects at clubs. The second portion is the equity portion and this amount is usually used to pay the equity that a resigning member is entitled to. In some cases the equity portion may increase, stay the same, or decrease over time. While at some clubs the equity portion is set by the Board or owner, there are some clubs that allow it to float based on market conditions or what the resigning member is willing to accept.

Non-equity club

Clubs that do not have any liability to resigning members for repayment of upfront joining fees. Non-equity clubs are able to use all of the initiation fees collected for capital projects or any operating deficits.

Semi-private club

A semi-private is a mixed use club that caters to both the general public and private members. In general, these clubs are less glamorous than equity clubs, while still offering food and beverage services, as well as golfing.