Rich NYers drive up Florida country club membership fees

The influx of wealthy New Yorkers and Californians who relocated en masse to Florida have driven up the price of golf club memberships with some Miami area locations charging six- and seven-figure fees.

Luxury golf clubs in South Florida have in some cases doubled and tripled their membership rates since the pandemic, according to Financial Times.

A hedge fund investor who plays golf in the area told the publication that there is fierce competition in what has evolved to be an “access to luxury golf arms race.”

Of the more than 545,000 people who left New York State in 2022, more than 91,000 relocated to Florida that same year, many of them looking to escape high taxes and draconian COVID-era lockdowns, according to data.

Emerald Dunes in West Palm Beach, which has a reported waiting list of 100 would-be members, charges a fee of $700,000. 11.1.96
The exclusive Indian Creek golf course is located on an island known as “Billionaire Bunker.” Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group

Many of them have cash to burn.

“The types of people moving down there are used to getting their way and having access to the best of the best,” the hedge fund investor said.

“Then you tell them ‘Congratulations, you moved to Palm Beach, you can’t be a member of any of the old-school clubs because the wait-list is 10 years long’.”

The price surge is coinciding with a rising demand for membership, which has created a backlog that has kept A-list celebrities waiting.

DJ Khaled has reportedly been trying to gain membership at the exclusive La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach, which charges $700,000 to join — up from $200,000 in the pre-COVID days.

Thus far, however, the record producer and disc jockey, who already has membership at Shell Bay, the north Miami Beach country club that charges $1.35 million for access, has been unable to get in, the FT reported.

The report cited data which found that the cost of membership at golf clubs in Southeast Florida has risen at more than quadruple the national rate.

The median cost of joining one of these clubs went from $120,000 in 2019 to $200,000 in 2023, according to data from Club Benchmarking, a Boston-based analytics firm.

Shell Bay, the country club which counts DJ Khaled among its members, charges a reported membership fee of $1.35 million.

“Country clubs are experiencing the collective rise of South Florida like many businesses. It’s simple supply and demand dynamics at play and these institutions are wise to capitalize,” Filippo Incorvaia, the founder of Miami-based FI Real Estate, told The Post.

“New Yorkers will pay to get in because it means exposure to the right people and it’s a true competition.”

Incorvaia said that a similar dynamic is playing out “at marinas, private membership clubs and even select restaurants too.”

According to FT, New York City-based real estate developer Witkoff, which also owns Shell Bay, plans to build Dutchman’s Pipe, the first newly constructed golf club in the Palm Beach area in the last 25 years.

Dutchman’s Pipe, which is slated to open on the site of the old Banyan Cay club later this year, is reportedly set to charge membership fees ranging from $300,000 to $350,000, the FT reported.

The image above shows the 18th hold at Emerald Dunes in West Palm Beach. PRN
The La Gorce country club, which charges $700,000 to join, is seen above along Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Alamy Stock Photo

Indian Creek — the private golf club located on the Miami island that has been dubbed “Billionaire Bunker” thanks to its well-heeled residents such as Jeff Bezos, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Ken Griffin, Tom Brady, and Carl Icahn — reportedly charges $500,000 for new members.

Before the pandemic, Indian Creek’s membership fee was less than half that amount, according to FT.

The club is considering hiking membership fees even further, it was reported.

The Breakers, an elite golf club in Palm Beach, charges new members a fee of $550,000. Before COVID, the fee was closer to $300,000, the FT reported.

Emerald Dunes in West Palm Beach, which has a reported waiting list of 100 would-be members, charges a fee of $700,000 — more than double the approximate $300,000 price tag from pre-pandemic days.

DJ Khaled is reportedly on the waiting list to join La Gorce. He is already a member of Shell Bay. Getty Images for The Match

“The old clubs are impossible to get into,” a financier who plays at several clubs is quoted as telling FT.

“It’s crazy the initiation fees that people are paying to just have a place to go to dinner or play golf.”

Dutchman’s Pipe, Indian Creek and Shell Bay are all invite-only clubs where membership can be obtained only through knowing someone who is already a member.

The Post has sought comment from DJ Khaled, Shell Bay, Witkoff, Indian Creek, La Gorce, The Breakers and Emerald Dunes.

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