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How to play a round of golf at an exclusive, private course (Aldarra in Sammaish, WA)


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I live in an eastside suburb of Seattle near Issaquah, Washington, and there is a very exclusive, private golf course less than 10 minutes from my home. I drive by this course each time I'm heading out to the local PUBLIC range to hit my daily bucket of balls.

This summer, I mustered the courage to drive through the front gate (properly attired) to check things out in person, and I was suitably impressed. Here's a link to the Aldarra Golf Course website:

http://www.aldarragolfclub.com/

What are some methods that other folks have used to secure a round of golf at a private course if: A) you're not a member at the private club; and B) you don't know anyone who is a member who could invite you for a round?

Who knows: if the stars align properly, I would join in a heartbeat if I had enough disposable cash to do so, but that's not an option for me right now. I wonder whether the folks at Aldarra would laugh at me if I asked for permission to play a round to set the stage for a longer-term goal of saving up enough money to join at some point down the road.

Any tips, tricks or suggestions (other than the obvious one of sneaking on to the course armed with a pitching wedge) would be appreciated.

Edited by BoomerGolfAnon
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1 hour ago, BoomerGolfAnon said:

I live in an eastside suburb of Seattle near Issaquah, Washington, and there is a very exclusive, private golf course less than 10 minutes from my home. I drive by this course each time I'm heading out to the local PUBLIC range to hit my daily bucket of balls.

This summer, I mustered the courage to drive through the front gate (properly attired) to check things out in person, and I was suitably impressed. Here's a link to the Aldarra Golf Course website:

http://www.aldarragolfclub.com/

What are some methods that other folks have used to secure a round of golf at a private course if: A) you're not a member at the private club; and B) you don't know anyone who is a member who could invite you for a round?

Who knows: if the stars align properly, I would join in a heartbeat if I had enough disposable cash to do so, but that's not an option for me right now. I wonder whether the folks at Aldarra would laugh at me if I asked for a permission to play a round to set the stage for a longer-term goal of saving up enough money to join at some point down the road.

Any tips, tricks or suggestions (other than the obvious one of sneaking on to the course armed with a pitching wedge) would be appreciated.

Looks like a lovely place, but it would never be a place I could play, or even want to play.  I read the Guest Rules, and they sound very "old school"; a private club for people with "old money".  Even if you had enough money to join, members of this type of club probably wouldn't truly accept you.  We had a private club here in the Tri-Cities that looked like a dog track compared to Aldarra, but new people that joined were shunned by old establishment members.  They eventually left, but because new members stopped joining, the club eventually became semi-private to make ends meet.  This club appears to have plenty of money available and maybe this club isn't like that, but when you have to be "invited" to apply for membership, I wonder.  

Then there are the usual club rules; not unreasonable for an upscale club, but prohibiting personal golf carts and personal push/pull carts?  Also no practice on the course, only in designated practice locations.  A lot of my practice time is spent out on the course... the best place to gain skill at shots that you can't practice in the practice area.

I guess I am one on "those people" who just don't belong.  I'd look elsewhere.  Welcome to the forums though.

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3 hours ago, Kenny B said:

Looks like a lovely place, but it would never be a place I could play, or even want to play.  I read the Guest Rules, and they sound very "old school"; a private club for people with "old money". [snip]

Thanks for the feedback. These are all fair points; however, let me be clear - my goal is to simply play a round of golf at Aldarra for purely selfish reasons. I drive by the damn place EVERY SINGLE TIME I head out to the local public course, and I can't take my eyes off of it. I'm not interested in hob-nobbing with the cognoscenti, either. I also have zero interest in trading "Golf Tips" with insiders, bankers, and stock brokers.

For me, it's all about the golf. In fact, if I won the lottery and could join Aldarra tomorrow, I'd still play rounds as a single if possible and I'd stay out of the clubhouse, too. For some, golf is a means to an end. But for me, the golf itself is the end goal.

The course sits along the side of the so-called Sammamish Plateau, so there are lots of interesting elevation changes as well. Such dramatic elevation changes are not something I see on most public courses, either.

Realistically, I will not be able to afford a membership there (at least until some unknown uncle dies and leaves me a small fortune in his will), but it SHORE would be nice to at least play a round of quality golf at Aldarra just so I can say to myself: "Wow, I played there once way back when..." as I drive by the course on my way to the public driving range at Twin Rivers. A man can dream...

Edited by BoomerGolfAnon
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Wialalea Country Club in Honolulu is very exclusive as well. They are the host of this week’s Sony Open. I talked about playing there with friends and strangers I met on the municipals. It took a while but I finally met someone who knew someone who new someone. After months I finally received an invitation. One round as a guest turned into a bimonthly outing.


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Some private courses offer limited public play - ask them.  Yuma CC is private but has partnered with a local golfsmith/shop that sets up a scramble event every other Monday during winter season. It's funny when all the carts come cruising out onto the course (shotgun start) and watching the highbrow expressions on some of the members faces - reminds me of Caddyshack 🤣.  I'm told the membership voted to do this as a means of making money and keeping their dues in check.

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12 hours ago, SteddyGolf said:

Wialalea Country Club in Honolulu is very exclusive as well. They are the host of this week’s Sony Open. I talked about playing there with friends and strangers I met on the municipals. It took a while but I finally met someone who knew someone who new someone. After months I finally received an invitation. One round as a guest turned into a bimonthly outing.

This is another good approach, but it relies on luck and serendipity. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right group of 'strangers' out on a municipal course. The problem for me is that I'm mostly a range rat, especially now that all the local courses are waterlogged.

Separately, I've seen a number of nice cars in the area with 'Aldarra' branded license plate frames. Maybe if I spot one at just the right time in a parking lot, I can cross paths with an actual member and ask him (or her) to tell me about the course, and then hope for the best...

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10 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

Some private courses offer limited public play - ask them.  Yuma CC is private but has partnered with a local golfsmith/shop that sets up a scramble event every other Monday during winter season. It's funny when all the carts come cruising out onto the course (shotgun start) and watching the highbrow expressions on some of the members faces - reminds me of Caddyshack 🤣.  I'm told the membership voted to do this as a means of making money and keeping their dues in check.

I'll look into this, but based on their member and guest rules, I have a strong suspicion that "keeping dues in check" is not a priority at Aldarra.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I think my best bet is to simply start playing more rounds at the local public and municipal courses. Truth be told, I am a committed range rat and I spend way too much time practicing golf instead of playing golf.

I guess I'm the Boomer Golf Anon version of the 20-year-old NEET who lives in his parents' basement, playing dank video games all day long instead of interacting with actual humans IRL. If I play as a single to round out a 4some, there's at least the opportunity to meet 3 new people...one of whom may know someone who knows someone...

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Pick up the phone, call the pro shop, and ask to speak to the pro.  Then be honest with him and ask if it would be possible to play their golf course.  I've done this at multiple private courses over the years and you'd be surprised how many pros will let you play.

As an example, we have a private club not far from my house here, and my Dad came down for Christmas a few years ago, and mentioned that he'd like to play the course.  So I called the pro at the course, and he said it was no problem, and we got on for $25 greens fees.

Look at it this way, what have you got to lose by asking?

Another option, and this one requires a lot of time and effort, but apply for a job at the course.  There was a real expensive private club 5 minutes from my house in Virginia, but I didn't have the $30,000 initiation fee.  So rather than beg, I applied for a job in the cart barn shuttling carts for the members.  I worked weekends, and as a benefit of working there I was allowed to play for free on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  And I can bring up to 3 guests with me who could also play for free.  Man, you've never seen me become so popular at work so quickly after I got that gig.  I had co-workers out there at least once a week playing  a round after work.  The best part about that job is that it was a great place to work, and a ton of fun.  The staff was super friendly, and the members were super nice.  And I got like $8.50 an hour while working there.

So yeah, most private clubs are open for play to the public.  You just have to make a few phone calls or get creative.

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20 minutes ago, GSwag said:

Pick up the phone, call the pro shop, and ask to speak to the pro.  Then be honest with him and ask if it would be possible to play their golf course.  I've done this at multiple private courses over the years and you'd be surprised how many pros will let you play.

As an example, we have a private club not far from my house here, and my Dad came down for Christmas a few years ago, and mentioned that he'd like to play the course.  So I called the pro at the course, and he said it was no problem, and we got on for $25 greens fees.

Look at it this way, what have you got to lose by asking?

Another option, and this one requires a lot of time and effort, but apply for a job at the course.  There was a real expensive private club 5 minutes from my house in Virginia, but I didn't have the $30,000 initiation fee.  So rather than beg, I applied for a job in the cart barn shuttling carts for the members.  I worked weekends, and as a benefit of working there I was allowed to play for free on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  And I can bring up to 3 guests with me who could also play for free.  Man, you've never seen me become so popular at work so quickly after I got that gig.  I had co-workers out there at least once a week playing  a round after work.  The best part about that job is that it was a great place to work, and a ton of fun.  The staff was super friendly, and the members were super nice.  And I got like $8.50 an hour while working there.

So yeah, most private clubs are open for play to the public.  You just have to make a few phone calls or get creative.

Best answer so far. Thanks for sharing this anecdote.

And yes: I DO need to call the pro and just be honest. As a wise man once said: "The worst he can say is: no!"

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6 hours ago, GSwag said:

apply for a job at the course

I grew up playing at one of the fifty snobbiest clubs in America (as voted by Golf Magazine) by doing this.  Caddies could play Mondays from noon till dark, and bag room guys could also play Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays after four (and we could hit range balls from the back of the range when we weren't working).  That place was WASPier than a hornet's nest, and my Italian Catholic family was never going to get an invite.

The course was actually nothing to write home about, though.

In addition to everything mentioned above, keep an eye out for charity auctions.  Prestigious clubs will often put a round up in a charity auction.  I've bid on several, but never won one, because they've always gone for more than what I set as my maximum.  But they're out there.

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On 1/10/2020 at 10:18 PM, Kenny B said:

Looks like a lovely place, but it would never be a place I could play, or even want to play.  I read the Guest Rules, and they sound very "old school"; a private club for people with "old money".  Even if you had enough money to join, members of this type of club probably wouldn't truly accept you.  We had a private club here in the Tri-Cities that looked like a dog track compared to Aldarra, but new people that joined were shunned by old establishment members.  They eventually left, but because new members stopped joining, the club eventually became semi-private to make ends meet.  This club appears to have plenty of money available and maybe this club isn't like that, but when you have to be "invited" to apply for membership, I wonder.  

Then there are the usual club rules; not unreasonable for an upscale club, but prohibiting personal golf carts and personal push/pull carts?  Also no practice on the course, only in designated practice locations.  A lot of my practice time is spent out on the course... the best place to gain skill at shots that you can't practice in the practice area.

I guess I am one on "those people" who just don't belong.  I'd look elsewhere.  Welcome to the forums though.

These rules are pretty consistent with every high end club I've ever been to. Honestly they make it a more enjoyable experience once you get used to it

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You may also want to keep an eye out for any tournaments that this course may offer.  I would love to play Shinnecock but as you know it is EXTREMELY private.  They do offer a tournament open to the public one time a year (it cost thousands to enter).  I don't have that cash either so it will never be played by me BUT the option is there technically.   

I work at a local course in the spring-fall and I also get free rounds and many perks.  I have met many wonderful people and would like to enter the golf industry when I retire in 7 more years.  Maybe go to the course and ask to pick the range or cart barn in exchange for rounds of golf.  Talk to the pro, tell him he doesn't have to pay you in cash, you will trade/barter your time for rounds of golf there.  Just an idea.

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  • 1 year later...

It’s a crazy complex and beautiful course. If you do get in, practice putting on hardwood floors... you’ll need it. I was lucky enough to know one of the greens guys back in the day, but they have also hosted several qualifier tournaments over the years. Not sure on your handicap- but that’s maybe something to watch for. One of the qualifiers I played in there was up to about a 7 I think. Watch the WSGA or PNGA websites. 

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I got to play a free round at pumpkin ridge Witch hollow (Tiger's 3rd US AM) on a member for a day pass i got in the mail. Had to sit through a sales pitch for the memebership and then try to hold my mouth shut after i heard the pricing. Good thing i was under 40 or it would have been double.

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OK don't judge me, I have changed my evil ways.... 

But about 15 or so years ago I was a pro at getting on private courses.  I would dress "private club golf nice" show up with a clean washed car. Go into the clubhouse and ask for the person that handles new membership. Let them go through their sales pitch. ( Don't  flinch when they tell you the price) Then say that is reasonable. They will probably ask you a little about yourself.. what do you do for a living. Territoty Sales Manager works. Plus state you are new to the area and noticed their fine golf club as you drove past and thought you would drop in to inquire. Ask for an application. Then say you would like to play the course once to make sure you like it.  9 times out of 10 your on. Then its up to you if you want to do this that day or schedule for another day. Sometimes they will invite another member or the clubs pro to play with you and sell you a bit. I always scheduled for another day. A week day is usually best to do this.

Play public courses for free... Hi I run golf tournments for my companies golf league. We have bigger events twice a season. We were thinking of having our outing at your club. We have about 36 players plus we will invite some management and suppliers as well. What would you charge per person for the event? Would it be ok if we played a round to check out the course. I probably just bring one or two other members of the committee. What would you charge us to check it out?  Now you either get a freebie or a reduced rate. ( To QUALIFY this was all true) But I would check out 5 courses and then decide on one.

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This one might be a little tougher but still worth a try.

Memberships at Aldarra are offered by invitation only. The process of becoming a member typically begins with a visit to the club and completion of the application process before an invitation can be extended. For more information on becoming a member, or to schedule a visit, contact Membership Director, Mark Merz at 425-222-7828 or email mmerz@aldarragc.com  

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:cobra-small: 7 Wood, F6 22.5* R Flex

:Sub70: 939x 5 hybrid

:Sub70: Irons, 699 Pro's S Flex (6 - AW)

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6 minutes ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

OK don't judge me, I have changed my evil ways.... 

But about 15 or so years ago I was a pro at getting on private courses.  I would dress "private club golf nice" show up with a clean washed car. Go into the clubhouse and ask for the person that handles new membership. Let them go through their sales pitch. ( Don't  flinch when they tell you the price) Then say that is reasonable. They will probably ask you a little about yourself.. what do you do for a living. Territoty Sales Manager works. Plus state you are new to the area and noticed their fine golf club as you drove past and thought you would drop in to inquire. Ask for an application. Then say you would like to play the course once to make sure you like it.  9 times out of 10 your on. Then its up to you if you want to do this that day or schedule for another day. Sometimes they will invite another member or the clubs pro to play with you and sell you a bit. I always scheduled for another day. A week day is usually best to do this.

Play public courses for free... Hi I run golf tournments for my companies golf league. We have bigger events twice a season. We were thinking of having our outing at your club. We have about 36 players plus we will invite some management and suppliers as well. What would you charge per person for the event? Would it be ok if we played a round to check out the course. I probably just bring one or two other members of the committee. What would you charge us to check it out?  Now you either get a freebie or a reduced rate. ( To QUALIFY this was all true) But I would check out 5 courses and then decide on one.

Well played sir!

When we joined a new club early last summer, I was good with a tour of the back nine, as I had never seen it. My kids had multiple opportunities to play the front during PGA Jr. League, so I knew the layout. However, the first tee time I set up after we joined, the membership director took time out of his day to play a round with me. Great guy and we love the club. My wife and I have actually had conversations about a second house on property as we get a little older. 

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1 minute ago, BKordon said:

Well played sir!

When we joined a new club early last summer, I was good with a tour of the back nine, as I had never seen it. My kids had multiple opportunities to play the front during PGA Jr. League, so I knew the layout. However, the first tee time I set up after we joined, the membership director took time out of his day to play a round with me. Great guy and we love the club. My wife and I have actually had conversations about a second house on property as we get a little older. 

I actually played the game at my club which is private. I played a round and afterward the membership director asked me what I thought. I told him I liked it but the initiation fee was a little high. He waived the whole thing if I would stay for at least two years. Done deal. Paying dues for two years was cheaper than the initiation fee. Then after a year my my wife was hired as their accountant / payroll person which came with free membership. Win win. But I do stuff to help out around the club once in a while.   Hope no members are reading this!

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2 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

I actually played the game at my club which is private. I played a round and afterward the membership director asked me what I thought. I told him I liked it but the initiation fee was a little high. He waived the whole thing if I would stay for at least two years. Done deal. Paying dues for two years was cheaper than the initiation fee. Then after a year my my wife was hired as their accountant / payroll person which came with free membership. Win win. But I do stuff to help out around the club once in a while.   Hope no members are reading this!

Man I should have tried to pull that at my member for a day. Initiation fees are terrible. 

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