Successful Membership Plans and structures are essential to the success of a variety of golf clubs, including private clubs and golf clubs with a membership/ public play mix. Addison Law is experienced at creating, along with a membership marketing professional, a marketing program designed to maximize profits as well as minimize legal risks, whatever the type of club involved.
Successful private clubs depend on membership plans that both encourage new members to join as well as retain the club’s existing members. Addison Law has the benefit of experience to know what works and what doesn’t in the private club realm.
Private club issues often addressed by Addison Law include:
- Equity vs. non-equity
- Choice of Club entity
- Conversion Rights
- Refundability Rights
- Transferability Rights
- Playing Privileges
- Membership Classifications
- Securities Issues
Addison Law has handled numerous membership conversions whereby ownership and control of the club and its facilities transfers to the members. Addison Law treats this process the same as an acquisition or sale of the club assets, with the attendant necessity of carefully negotiated transfer documentation and detailed due diligence aimed at clearly identifying the title, survey, environmental, engineering, operating and other issues critical to the success of the transaction.
PRIVATE/PUBLIC PLAY ARRANGEMENTS
Private/public play arrangements are often seen in the context of resort golf courses, and in other situations where the golf course owner desires a quicker repayment of capital and a steady income stream from dues.
Addison Law is experienced in such situations. Resort courses often require complex Golf Play Agreements, also known as Tee Time Agreements, whereby the rights of the golf course owner and the resort are carefully detailed, often including such terms as reserved tee times for the resort, discount pricing, operational standards for the resort and the golf course, golf outings, and member and resort guest play.
With the very large increase in the number of high-end daily fee golf courses developed and operating throughout the Country, many owners and operators are seeking to privatize all or a portion of their operations in order to remain economically competitive. Addison Law is poised to leverage its experience and creativity to assist owners and operators in this often difficult process.
MEMBERSHIPS WITH LODGING COMPONENTS
Club owners are increasingly offering memberships with a lodging component, such as the right to stay in a golf villa designated for member use only. These structures create a host of new issues, including potential timeshare act registrations. Addison Law provides the structuring and legal counsel that is critical to the success of these programs.
OPERATIONAL MEMBERSHIP ISSUES
Addison Law’s specialized expertise is also invaluable in the review, evaluation and revision of existing membership plans and documentation. It is imperative that membership documents be reviewed and revised periodically to ensure compliance with rapidly changing laws in areas such as gender discrimination and public accommodation. Membership documentation should also be reviewed to verify compliance with changing state laws, and to ensure that officers, directors and the club manager have the maximum available protection against liability. Other important issues to consider include the right of “significant others” to use the membership, disposition of the membership upon the divorce or death of the member, and the transferability of the membership. In the event that problems do arise, Addison Law’s attorneys have extensive expertise in advising and negotiating membership disputes, suspensions and expulsions (pre-litigation). The Firm’s attorneys can also assist with membership collection issues (pre-litigation), rule violations and other issues.