Cash-Strapped Country Clubs Welcome the Public

Upper crust forced to adjust as struggling clubs aim for the common touch
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2009 8:39 AM CDT
Country clubs across America are trying to stave off bankruptcy by inviting in the general public, despite the protests of some members.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Struggling country clubs have decided to ditch their exclusiveness to stave off extinction, the Washington Post reports, slashing fees and opening facilities to the public. Long-standing members often sniff as dress codes vanish, nachos replace filet mignon on menus, pickup trucks appear in parking spots, and the public floods in—but directors say it's the only way to stay afloat amid tough economic times and changing demographics.

In some towns, where club membership goes back generations among the upper crust, the move to welcome Joe Public has shaken up the whole social strata. "Not long ago, people were dying to get in here and enjoy the luxuries in life," said a director of a club in a small Pennsylvania town. "It was a who's who of Uniontown, and now we're trying to pull anybody in. The whole culture has changed overnight."