The Lawrence Board of Trustees voted to lower rates at the village-owned country club by a significant amount on Wednesday, as the club’s general manager said he wanted to deliver a “knockout punch” to other clubs in the area.
“This could be the swan song for other clubs in the area,” said Leo McMahon, manager of the . He predicted the other clubs would soon reduce their rates. “We want to beat other clubs to the punch. The pie is our pie — I don’t want them stealing our pieces. I want the whole pie and these rates will help us do that.”
Private clubs across the country have suffered as people are less willing to spend money on expensive memberships and have less time to play. In the Five Towns, four private clubs and the Lawrence owned club competes for members, while two public golf courses offer a cheaper alternative.
The Lawrence club has not turned a profit in years, according to trustees, and the village has had to rely on its cash reserves to keep it going. Trustees Michael Fragin and Ed Klar, along with Mayor Martin Oliner, approved the new rates and said they hope that reducing the rates will attract new members.
“If you’re going to cut, you do it or don’t do it,” Oliner said. “[The club] needs people there, it can’t be a ghost town.”
For those who do not live in the village, a gold membership at the club will now cost $4,950, down from $5,750; a silver membership will cost $3,750, down from $4,500; a bronze membership will run at $2,500, down from $4,200; and the junior executive membership, for those ages 22 to 35, was reduced by $1,000, to $2,500. Resident rates were also reduced.
Guest rates were increased to $35 on weekdays and $50 on weekends, and cart rentals will now cost $28.
Trustee Joel Mael, who voted against the decreases, worried that the club will not attract enough new members to make up for the losses created by the new rates.
“We’re not going to sustain ourselves by attracting jumpers,” he said. “What you have done tonight is cut the overall rate by $250,000 that you have to make up with new members. I don’t think there’s a chance we’ll make it.”
The general managers of the and declined to comment. The manager of could not be reached for comment.
Dan Rivas, a member of the board at the and chairman of its membership development committee, said that the club is not worried about the current environment because it has a dedicated membership base.
“Every country club in the county, its membership has suffered,” he said. “To us, publicizing our numbers doesn’t do anything for us. We don’t look to get into price wars — we’re not looking for transient members.”