Buying one membership that's good at multiple clubs across the country is not unheard of, but Club Max breaks ground by offering access to six private clubs in the same area—all within two hours of Manhattan. Depending on which "home course" a member chooses, the initiation fee is between $12,500 and $28,000, plus annual dues. It then costs twenty dollars to play on any of the other five. Three of the clubs are in New Jersey: Pine Hill (Tom Fazio) in Pine Hill, New Jersey National (Roy Case) in Basking Ridge and Pine Barrens (Eric Bergstol) in Jackson. The others are in New York: Minisceongo (Case) in Pomona, Branton Woods (Bergstol) in Hopewell Junction and Hollow Brook (Bergstol) in Cortlandt Manor. Three of these courses are currently public but are set to go private this year. Call 877-425-8269 or visit empiregolfusa.com.
The days of doctors' house calls are long over, but on Daniel Island in Charleston, South Carolina, residents and members of the Daniel Island Club can now get Michael Fabrizio, the club's course superintendent, to come to their homes and offer advice about their lawns. Fabrizio helps homeowners on a range of issues—from recommending fertilizer to dealing with diseases such as brown patch. Some say the members' lawns now rival the fairways of the club's Tom Fazio course. . . . Laterra (800-940-6630) at the World Golf Village is the latest in private-housing communities in St. Augustine, Florida. The forty-one-acre development will include membership at both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus's King & Bear course and the Slammer & Squire by Bobby Weed (with Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen). A chip shot away from the World Golf Hall of Fame and from a $3 million spa, Laterra will offer 382 memberships with home prices from around $200,000.
Call it the Condo Curse: Fairways of many courses in private communities have long been flanked on either side by rows of homes—often at the expense of the golf. But now, apparently, the housing paradigm is shifting. Since as few as 25 percent of residents in such communities play their "home" course, developers are increasingly clustering housing away from the greens. This gives architects more freedom to design interesting courses. Near Naples, Florida, Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club (239-394-2581) is an example of this emerging trend: WCI Communities Inc. plans to unveil a fresh eighteen on land previously slated to be a traditional mix of golf and real estate. To replace the lots lost to the new course design, the company is constructing the ultimate in clustered housing: a twenty-story 113-unit tower, named Aversana, set to open this summer.
• LeBaron Hills Country Club (Mark Mungeam, 2001); Lakeville, MA; 508-923-5700; $22,500 initiation fee
• Shark's Tooth Golf Club (Greg Norman, 2002); Lake Powell, FL; 866-853-8722; $36,000 initiation fee
• Red Rock Country Club (Arnold Palmer, 1998); Las Vegas, NV; 702-304-5600; $17,500 initiation fee
Private clubs have always had strict dress codes; a few still require long pants and almost all insist on collared shirts. But recently shirts without collars have been put in play—another example of the Tiger effect. The PGA Tour had a similar dress code until 2000, when it decided that "any currently accepted golf fashion" would be permissible—opening the door for Woods's mock-turtleneck T-shirt. Clubs including Ocean Hammock in Florida and the private Olympia Fields in Illinois took notice of Tiger's new threads and the Tour's relaxed rules. Some even called Nike to find out the exact measurements of his shirts (the necks measure 1.25-1.5 inches in height) and then amended their guidelines accordingly.