Many private clubs have sold members only apparel in their pro shops for years. At Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, for example, only the initiated may buy the tie and sport coat with the famous ball-and-wing logo. Now the trend at private clubs is to offer members merchandise with special marks distinct from those on the clubs' scorecards and attire available to the public. Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey, to name one, offers its members clothing featuring a simple embroidered pine tree against a three-paneled shield, without the club name. Other clubs are following suit, removing the name from the normal logo: Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Georgia; Old Tabby Links in Spring Island, South Carolina; Hudson National Golf Club in Croton-on-Hudson, New York; and Forest Creek in Pinehurst, North Carolina, have all found that their members enjoy this inconspicuous look. "Guests are always asking if they can purchase our members-only logos," reports a pro at Forest Creek. "I tell them, 'Sure, just buy a membership, and the shirt can be yours!'"
A new private golf club opening in New Jersey is minor news. Two new invitation-only golf clubs—only five minutes apart and touting views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty as well as offering members high-speed-ferry shuttle service from downtown Manhattan in less than twenty minutes—is major news. Liberty National Golf Club and Bayonne Golf Club will open over the next two years to the delight of many Manhattanites who find themselves unable to join a private club within tolerable commuting distance. Bayonne Golf Club (845-362-9146; bayonnegolfclub.com) is the newest venture of designer Eric Bergstol (Twisted Dune, Pine Barrens). His links-style course with views of New York harbor will sit on 125 acres of silt that was dredged from the Hudson River and has given the course 100-foot elevation changes. Initiation fees for the 250 local and 250 national/international memberships are expected to start at $150,000 and $75,000, respectively. Liberty National Golf Club (201-451-5769), the $100 million project of Reebok CEO Paul Fireman (who also developed Willowbend on Cape Cod), will include a Tom Kite and Bob Cupp layout, as well as a dining room overseen by famed restaurateur Tom Colicchio of Manhattan's Gramercy Tavern. Liberty National will offer a residential component with three condominium complexes. Initiation fees will start at $500,000.
This year promises to be a great one for Ireland's Carton House Golf Club. The Golfing Union of Ireland (the governing body for men's amateur golf) will relocate its headquarters to the club's grounds. In addition, the Montgomerie course will host the 2005 Nissan Irish Open. But the most exciting news for Americans is that the club is now offering a limited number of international memberships starting at $25,000 for those residing outside of Europe. Call 011-353/505-2000 for details. . . . After wide national attention, including an article in the New York Times, the board of Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta has proposed amending its "designated guest" guidelines to allow both gay and straight unmarried partners of members greater freedom at the club. The changes would not, however, allow these visitors to play golf without the member. . . . We hear that Baltusrol's Lower course, site of the 2005 PGA Championship, was so difficult to play at the end of last season that flocks of members were fleeing to the Upper course for relief.
PGA National Golf Club (courses by Jack Nicklaus, 1990; Tom and George Fazio, 1980, 1981; Arnold Palmer, 1984; Karl Litten, 1988), Palm Beach Gardens, FL; 561-627-2000; $26,000 initiation fee.