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Private Clubs

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I was born into an upper middle class family in the Chicago suburbs with no private club associations. Now an active professional, my colleagues have encouraged me to join a specific private club in Chicago. Though I know many members, and some of my professional colleagues belong there, I feel like an outsider. Their parents, and many of their grandparents were members.

There are numerous advantages professionally to being a member and many of the real estate and related upwardly mobile Chicagoans belong there.

I'd like to get a check on SF of the importance of private clubs in your respective professional lives, pros & cons, etc.

Thanks.
post #2 of 21
My wife, an alumna of a much more exalted educational institution than I, is a member of her college's club in midtown Manhattan. They have a fantastic gym, much nicer than is standard, and it comes at a bargain price and is convenient for her. The rest of the club is rather stuffy, though it is charming and luxurious. It's also geared towards older members, but she's enjoyed being a member, as have I by association. If there's no overriding reason not to join, such as cost, and you think you will use the facilities, I say go for it.
post #3 of 21
In considering a private club I would review what recipical agreements are place to use clubs in other locations. I think we travel more today then say our parents or grandparents. I have found the ability to use recip rights while traveling to be one of the greater benefits of joining a private club. I might know where to get a table or tee time where I live without a club membership but I have no idea in another city. Using the features of a private club while traveling can be like a second home.

The other side of the sword is I think local club memberships have less value because we do travel. Rather then going to the club for New Year's Eve I went to Rio or rather then golf, pool party and steak fry at the club I went to Monaco. If you have children this might be different.

I don't live where I grew up. Most of the people here also moved here. (Silicon Valley) I could understand how you might feel an outsider if you are joining a club with an old tradition in a place like Palm Beach. If you move to Palm Beach you will always be a newbie. Only after three generations you are you one of them. It is how they protect the society. The 'newbies" have the money - lot of it - and the establish have old money and not nearly as much of it.
post #4 of 21
The Swann Club.

Odette, however, is nowhere in sight, and that's how I want it.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by vc2000
In considering a private club I would review what recipical agreements are place to use clubs in other locations. I think we travel more today then say our parents or grandparents. I have found the ability to use recip rights while traveling to be one of the greater benefits of joining a private club. I might know where to get a table or tee time where I live without a club membership but I have no idea in another city. Using the features of a private club while traveling can be like a second home.
That's a really good point. Plus reciprocal rates for a club room are often a fraction of what any nearby hotel will charge.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Appleby
Plus reciprocal rates for a club room are often a fraction of what any nearby hotel will charge.

Unfortunately, the days of steep discounts from comparable lodgings seem to be over. And, the quality of the rooms at these reciprocal clubs are often lacking, to say the least. I no longer find it a useful amenity of my club.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chorse123
My wife, an alumna of a much more exalted educational institution than I, is a member of her college's club in midtown Manhattan. They have a fantastic gym, much nicer than is standard, and it comes at a bargain price and is convenient for her. The rest of the club is rather stuffy, though it is charming and luxurious. It's also geared towards older members, but she's enjoyed being a member, as have I by association.

If there's no overriding reason not to join, such as cost, and you think you will use the facilities, I say go for it.


Thanks for the input. As a former NYC resident, I think I would jump at the chance to be a member of say The Yale Club. I guess in returning to Chicago after many years, the establishment here seems to pale in comparison. But you are right, if I can make it my gym and enjoy the other benefits, I guess there's no downside. Again, thanks. Any Chicago downtown club people here?
post #8 of 21
In addition to reciprocal arrangements with other clubs, consider:

- how much is the initiation fee. A fee in the five figures for downtown lunch/social clubs isn't something to be sniffed at lightly by most people. Some clubs have reduced fees for younger members (under @ age 40) or allow payment to be spread over a couple years.

- how likely is it that you will stay in Chicago. Even if you move to, say, NYC, those reciprocal arrangements only go so far -- sometimes they're only "good" for the summertime, or for dinner only, or do not include gym use, and nearly all require that you announce yourself as a reciprocal club attendee.

- does the club allow easy access for the member's spouse and/or children. Some clubs have better access than others for, say, your wife to have lunch at the club with her friends or for your children to take squash lessons on Saturdays. By the way, I don't think "family" use applies to friends, partners, signficant others, etc. at most private clubs.

- how close to your office is the club. The closer it is to your office, the more likely you are to go, at least for lunch or post-work dinner.

- does the club have a coat/tie dress policy. If your office-wear is business casual normally, this is an additional consideration. Unless you come in the back entrance and solely use the gym, I think a surprising number of clubs (East Coast anyway) still require coat/tie on men.

- what social events does the club sponsor (other than eating/drinking) -- trips (fishing, football/baseball games, overseas, etc.), wine-tastings, speakers, book readings, movies, dinners with well-known chefs or winemakers or musicians, etc.

- what activities does the club offer -- squash, racquetball, swimming, gym, fitness training or squash coaching, backgammon, pool, poker, chess, etc. Anything of interest to you?

- can rooms be reserved for parties/events at the club. Might be of interest if you entertain alot or if you have kids soon-to-be married who are looking for rehearsal dinner or reception space.

- how long is the waiting list to join. Some clubs have longer lists than others; some have none at all and are desperately seeking your initial fee dollars to pay for their latest expansion, etc. Speaking of expansion, if the club has a large construction project or other big expense, how will it be paid for (i.e., will the membership be assessed a special fee to pay for the project).

- does the club have "hotel" rooms where your out of town guests can stay.

- finally, is the club a social club or a business club. Some clubs are strictly (some, very strictly) social -- no business papers whatsoever are permitted and the ringing or use of cell phones is virtually punishable by death. Sure, you can discuss business matters, but the pretext of being "social" means no cell phones and no business papers visible. For such clubs, there is no "business center" where you can hook up your computer, although they may have a computer or two in the library where you might be able to check email. Don't think that you can use such a club as an "office away from the office" though. On the other hand, some clubs have business networking as a primary goal.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kabert
In addition to reciprocal arrangements with other clubs, consider:

- how much is the initiation fee. A fee in the five figures for downtown lunch/social clubs isn't something to be sniffed at lightly by most people. Some clubs have reduced fees for younger members (under @ age 40) or allow payment to be spread over a couple years.

- how likely is it that you will stay in Chicago. Even if you move to, say, NYC, those reciprocal arrangements only go so far -- sometimes they're only "good" for the summertime, or for dinner only, or do not include gym use, and nearly all require that you announce yourself as a reciprocal club attendee.

- does the club allow easy access for the member's spouse and/or children. Some clubs have better access than others for, say, your wife to have lunch at the club with her friends or for your children to take squash lessons on Saturdays. By the way, I don't think "family" use applies to friends, partners, signficant others, etc. at most private clubs.

- how close to your office is the club. The closer it is to your office, the more likely you are to go, at least for lunch or post-work dinner.

- does the club have a coat/tie dress policy. If your office-wear is business casual normally, this is an additional consideration. Unless you come in the back entrance and solely use the gym, I think a surprising number of clubs (East Coast anyway) still require coat/tie on men.

- what social events does the club sponsor (other than eating/drinking) -- trips (fishing, football/baseball games, overseas, etc.), wine-tastings, speakers, book readings, movies, dinners with well-known chefs or winemakers or musicians, etc.

- what activities does the club offer -- squash, racquetball, swimming, gym, fitness training or squash coaching, backgammon, pool, poker, chess, etc. Anything of interest to you?

- can rooms be reserved for parties/events at the club. Might be of interest if you entertain alot or if you have kids soon-to-be married who are looking for rehearsal dinner or reception space.

- how long is the waiting list to join. Some clubs have longer lists than others; some have none at all and are desperately seeking your initial fee dollars to pay for their latest expansion, etc. Speaking of expansion, if the club has a large construction project or other big expense, how will it be paid for (i.e., will the membership be assessed a special fee to pay for the project).

- does the club have "hotel" rooms where your out of town guests can stay.

- finally, is the club a social club or a business club. Some clubs are strictly (some, very strictly) social -- no business papers whatsoever are permitted and the ringing or use of cell phones is virtually punishable by death. Sure, you can discuss business matters, but the pretext of being "social" means no cell phones and no business papers visible. For such clubs, there is no "business center" where you can hook up your computer, although they may have a computer or two in the library where you might be able to check email. Don't think that you can use such a club as an "office away from the office" though. On the other hand, some clubs have business networking as a primary goal.

thank you for those considerations. i am evaluating the opportunity and potential to improve my professional position locally along with these factors.
post #10 of 21
Used to belong to a club in NYC, it went downhill though and even the people who run it are second rate. Friends of mine have wanted me to join the Racquet club for ages but Ive learned a little secret. It's better to have friends who belong to clubs than to belong to one yourself.
post #11 of 21
Further to professional expediency, of course, I consider it an indispensable bolthole when Mrs Smith becomes overbearing in her demands upon me.
post #12 of 21
"i am evaluating the opportunity and potential to improve my professional position locally"

This would seem like a flawed and fatal reason to join any club, IMHO. Full disclosure: I am either a member of or frequent visitor to every Chicago club so I can soapbox about this until carpal tunnel takes hold. Unlike midtown Manhattan , Chicago does not have a college/club row. The various establishments are oozing with +'s and -'s, as are the suburban haunts (i.e. Golf club) and one should consider all the above mentioned points ~ $, locale, recip and such. However the biggest question one must ask is whether or not you are "clubbable". This is not to pass judgement but simply to suggest an honest self evaluation. One does not take the el/metra if siderodromophobia is present. You do not want to cough up the downstroke and resign within a year, so I would stress the earlier advice "it's better to have friends who belong". More thoughts if needed, good luck.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJim'sSon
"i am evaluating the opportunity and potential to improve my professional position locally"

This would seem like a flawed and fatal reason to join any club, IMHO. Full disclosure: I am either a member of or frequent visitor to every Chicago club so I can soapbox about this until carpal tunnel takes hold. Unlike midtown Manhattan , Chicago does not have a college/club row. The various establishments are oozing with +'s and -'s, as are the suburban haunts (i.e. Golf club) and one should consider all the above mentioned points ~ $, locale, recip and such. However the biggest question one must ask is whether or not you are "clubbable". This is not to pass judgement but simply to suggest an honest self evaluation. One does not take the el/metra if siderodromophobia is present. You do not want to cough up the downstroke and resign within a year, so I would stress the earlier advice "it's better to have friends who belong". More thoughts if needed, good luck.

Company will pay for most of this as a business expense as I am the sales guy. We're talking ~$3,500 + meals. Not too bad. My sponsor like you, is a member of all the clubs as well... I get it, Chicago is a small town. What esle can you tell me? Which is your primary club in town? University? Chicago? Standard? Athletic?

I think since the club has a lot of folks from my nsubs highschool and the business comunity I wil be fine. True, holidays I will not be able to walk around the tables and say hello to members my family has known for years, but you have to start somewhere right?

I think the fact that virtually everyone in my industry is a member there means that it will be a helpful and beneficial move to make for me. That I know people who are willing to speak on my behalf makes it a little easier...

Thanks, and i like the part about train phobia. please share more about the chicago club scene, crowd and what not...
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJim'sSon
"i am evaluating the opportunity and potential to improve my professional position locally" This would seem like a flawed and fatal reason to join any club, IMHO. Full disclosure: I am either a member of or frequent visitor to every Chicago club so I can soapbox about this until carpal tunnel takes hold. Unlike midtown Manhattan , Chicago does not have a college/club row. The various establishments are oozing with +'s and -'s, as are the suburban haunts (i.e. Golf club) and one should consider all the above mentioned points ~ $, locale, recip and such. However the biggest question one must ask is whether or not you are "clubbable". This is not to pass judgement but simply to suggest an honest self evaluation. One does not take the el/metra if siderodromophobia is present. You do not want to cough up the downstroke and resign within a year, so I would stress the earlier advice "it's better to have friends who belong". More thoughts if needed, good luck.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_R._Thompson this Big Jim? Illinois needs more like him. A patriot.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by heavyd
Illinois needs more like him. A patriot.

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