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IN THE LOOP

Locked and Loaded

The Most Exclusive Clubs

The first rule of acquiring membership to an elite club is to not let it be known that you actually want to join one of these rarified fraternities.

San Francisco Golf Club

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California
Home to one of A.W. Tillinghast’s finest courses is the city’s top prize, even though Olympic nearby may be better known since it hosts the U.S. Open.

Deepdale Golf Club

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New York
The closest club of any significance to New York City. Come during any weekday in peak season and there will not be more than six golfers on the course.

Augusta National Golf Club

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Georgia
The exclusionary rule for women is finally over, but for those not among the 50 most prominent families of Southern aristocracy or a Fortune 100 CEO, consider yourself still outside the ropes.

Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews

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Scotland
With a clubhouse only 10 paces from the first tee of the Old Course, the membership roster of the R&A is a who’s who in golf around the world.

Merion Golf Club

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Pennsylvania
Even through its respite as a part of the U.S. Open rotation, it remained the center of the Philadelphia social scene.

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers

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Scotland
The oldest golf club in the world. It is by far the most presstigious and difficult club to join of any in Britain.

Pine Valley Golf Club

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New Jersey
As one would expect, the club which is home to perhaps the #1 golf course in the world has many who wish to join.

Swinley Forest Golf Club

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England
A club for the lingering aristocracy in England, it has     a close association with the Royal Family.

Chicago Golf Club

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Illinois
The first club of any significance in the Midwest, the club has its ties to the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age.

The Country Club

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Massachusetts
America’s first great country club and bastion to the Boston Brahmins. Its prestige has been boosted by its ties to American golf folklore—Francis Quimet’s U.S. Open victory in 1913.

Tokyo Golf Club

,
Japan
In a culture obsessed with golf, the club probably has more people who would like to join than any other on earth.

Sunningdale Golf Club

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England
In the posh suburbs to the southwest of London, the club has a prestige enhanced by its two classical heathland courses, the Old and the New.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club

,
England
Known as “The Royal” in the Liverpool area, the club has more members of the R&A than any other club in England.

The River Club

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South Africa
In the wealthy neighborhood of Johannesburg, it is the only club in all of South Africa which visitors cannot play.

Royal Sydney Golf Club

,
Australia
For such an egalitarian country, this club is one of the very few in Australia to embrace the British Empire’s predilection for exclusivity.

Fishers Island Club

,
New York
The club is unapproachable. Like a medieval castle, it has the added buffer of a moat, in the form of Long Island Sound.

Garden City Men’s Club

,
New York
An all men’s club whose fashionable old course is technically an extension of the lockerroom. Here, a member could play without a shirt and not offend anyone.

Jupiter Island Club

,
Florida
A small, secluded club hidden amongst the tax-shelter mansions. The club is popular among families whose patriarch plays his serious golf at Seminole.

Seminole Golf Club

,
Florida
The winter retreat for serious golfers—the club has more past Chairmans of the USGA than anywhere else.

Golf de Chantilly

,
France
To the north of Paris, it is known as much for its great golf as it is for the famed architecture of its chateau and stables.

Cypress Point Club

,
California
With half its members living east of the Mississippi, it is the West Coast version of Seminole—a bastion of movers and shakers.

Sankaty Head Golf Club

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Massachussetts
On the eastern end of Nantucket, it has become so difficult to join that even the children of members are shut out.

Toronto Golf Club

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Canada
One of Canada’s leading memberships in the suburbs of its largest city—home to a graceful Harry Colt course.

Chevy Chase Club

,
Maryland
Located in the Bethesda suburb of Washington D.C., the club once excluded any “persons engaged in trade.”

Los Angeles Country Club

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California
A club which wants nothing to do with Hollywood. The one exception was Ronald Reagan—but then, he had other interests.

National Golf Links of America

,
New York
The name says it all. Home to the first real 18-hole golf course in the country.

Alwoodley Golf Club

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England
On the northern edge of Leeds, the club has as its motto “No common man has ever tread this turf.”

Peachtree Golf Club

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Georgia
The home to Atlanta’s old money. Bobby Jones belonged to the club later in his life—and also had a hand in its design.