Sports

The most exclusive golf clubs in the US

The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, Sea Island, Georgia.
Image source: Sea Island Resort

News that a British golf club has upped its membership fee to a six-figure sum - reported to be £125,000 ($192,500) for new joiners - caused quite a storm last week. But, it turns out this is small change considering the initiation fees demanded by clubs across the Atlantic.

Privacy seems to be a theme with many exclusive golf clubs, particularly in the U.S. For others, membership fees might be lower but prospective members have to be invited to join. There are some things money just can't buy, it would seem.

Here's CNBC's look at some of the most exclusive clubs Stateside.

—By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt. Published on October 26, 2015.

10. Loblolly Pines Golf Club

Colin Anderson/Blend Images/Getty Images

Initiation fee: $275,000 estimated

This Florida-based club is so exclusive that in order to be considered for membership, a current member must sponsor you, and their decision then needs to be seconded by four other members, the club's website states. Perhaps it's the stringent entry test that has kept numbers at this club low, at 275 members. Askmen.com says membership fees start at $275,000.

The founders -- several young couples from Chicago and Philadelphia, the club's website states, began with the Loblolly Bay Yacht Club and Marina where they could enjoy boating, swimming, sport fishing, and a pristine beach. Soon after, the Loblolly Pines Golf Club was created too, in 1988.

9. Pine Valley Golf Club

Pine Valley Golf Club, New Jersey
David Cannon/Getty Images

Initiation fee: Unknown

Pine Valley Golf Club is a "highly exclusive, male-only membership country club," according to the website TheRichest.com. So much so that "membership has always been granted to those invited by the board of directors," it states.

It might be worth the effort getting membership, however, as it has been called the "greatest course in the world."

There are around 930 members from all corners of the world. Women are only allowed on the course on Sunday afternoons and guests can only enter if invited and accompanied by a member.

8. The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts

The Country Club in Brookline
Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Initiation fee: Unknown

The name says it all for this exclusive golf club. Strangely enough, however, the Country Club started life as an equestrian and social club and was established in 1882 (golf being introduced in 1893).

The club offers more than golf too, with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a lake for ice skating. Its golf course has been selected to host the 2022 U.S. Open.

As for becoming a member (the club has 1,300, it says), Bisnow.com states that "the club is so exclusive that the club's website features links for jobs rather than memberships, and even rejected the wife of then-Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick."

7. Nanea Golf Club, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Kailua, Hawaii
Julie Thurston Photography/Moment Mobile/ Getty Images

Initiation fee: Unknown

Membership is by invitation only at this exclusive club designed for financiers Charles Schwab and George Roberts by architect David McLay Kidd. Nanea's clubhouse was designed to resemble one of Hawaii's five volcanoes. The club opened in 2003 and was destined for use by the elite, Bisnow.com notes.

6. Bighorn Golf Club

Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Initiation fee: $325,000

Located in Palm Desert, California, Bighorn golf club is a residential golf community which means you need to live in the area to be a member. Initiation fees are reported to be around $325,000. Annual dues for an individual golf membership are $26,500, according to Bighorn's website.

"Bighorn's stunning terrain and history-making tournament play have made the Arthur Hills-designed Mountains and the Tom Fazio-designed Canyons courses two of golf's most legendary 18's," the club's website says. It has been host to players such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

5. Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton Illinois

Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Initiation fee: Unknown

One of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association in 1894, Chicago was also the site of one of the nation's first 18-hole courses and the first to host the U.S. Open outside of the Northeast, according to Golf.com.

This club limits its membership to 100 people and has "a steeplechase worth of hurdles to clear in order to get in," the site noted. The club has hosted a number of tournaments, including the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.

4. National Golf Links of America, Southampton, NY

National Golf Links of America course
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Initiation fee: $75,000 plus

Opened in 1911, this is one of the older golf courses found in the exclusive Hamptons area of New York. According to Links magazine, initiation fees at clubs like the National are "relatively low, less than $75,000" although other reports put the joining fee as high as $575,000.

"If you're not a blue-blood, related to a blue-blood, or service the blue-bloods' financial, charitable and social trusts, even an unlimited checkbook won't help," the magazine said.

This has prompted the creation of other golf clubs with similar mentalities. The nearby Sebonack golf club in Southampton is reported to charge a $550.000 initiation fee, as do The Bridge, in Bridgehampton.

3. Seminole Golf Club, Juno Beach, Florida

General view of Seminole Golf Course and Club
Brian Morgan/Getty Images

Initiation fee: Unknown

This is another golf club which is private in more ways than one – it apparently doesn't even like photographs being taken of its course.

No information is publicly available on the club's membership fees but to give an idea of how selective the club is, it once turned down golf legend Jack Nicklaus for membership. The club was also reputedly the favorite haunt of golf pro Ben Hogan when he was preparing for the Masters.

2. Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, California

General view of Cypress Point
Brian Morgan/Getty Images

Initiation fee: Unknown

Created by designer Alister MacKenzie in 1928, Cypress Point golf club offers golfers beautiful surroundings on the Californian coast…but those come at a cost.

Regarded as the most exclusive course in the world, "it is virtually impossible to play a round unless you are invited by a member," according to the website Monterey Peninsula Golf (where Cypress Point is located). Clint Eastwood is a member, reportedly.

The club decides the cost of yearly membership fees by equally dividing the total operating expenses among all of its members (estimated to be between 200-250), the site said. "Each member of the club is required to pay the same amount in dues, regardless of the amount of play or the number of visits to the club."

1. Augusta National Golf Club

Augusta National's clubhouse.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Initiation fee: $250,000 estimated

The home of the Masters tournament, the Augusta National Golf Club was founded more than 80 years ago and has only 300 members. There is a saying that if you have to ask to be a member of Augusta, you're not welcome. Indeed, the membership fee might be lower than other clubs but Augusta is notoriously picky and membership is by invitation only.

The lucky few who get to sport the club's distinctive green jacket are usually wealthy and distinguished in their careers. Members are said to include Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, for example. Yearly dues to the club are at least $10,000, according to Bisnow.com.

Renowned previously for being an all-male club, it recently opened its doors to its first female members, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and investment banker Darla Moore, in 2012. A third female member, Ginni Rometty, was admitted in 2014.