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Recession takes swing at exclusive golf clubs

Lower rates at public parks cause membership at private courses to drop


South Shore resident Nicky Beans used to be a paying member of a private country club. Now he plays the links at Nassau County’s public golf courses — at a heavily reduced price from the yearly fees he would have been paying had he kept his private club membership.

“I don’t have the money to go there anymore — the prices have gone up way too much,” Beans, of Malverne, said. “Eisenhower and Bethpage are the places to play at.”

Like Beans, many others have also flocked from private to public courses. Club dues and fees have either become too costly or too hard to justify for people who are struggling in hard economic times.

The downward trend in private club memberships is especially pressing for the Five Towns, where there are four private clubs — Inwood Country Club, Woodmere Club, Seawane Club and The Rockaway Hunting Club — and the Village of Lawrence-owned private golf club, which are in close proximity to one another and compete for the dues and fees of local residents.

“Obviously, the demographics of the community has changed and the number of families [who would join a club] has lowered drastically,” said Donald Mollitor, general manager of the Woodmere Club. “I think at this point, certainly the supply outweighs the demand. Simple economics: there are not enough families in the neighborhood to support the four clubs.”

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