When a Baltimore private school family with several children applied for financial aid, the school politely suggested they reapply – after you have quit your country club. The story is true, and not even that uncommon, according to admissions staffers. It simply underlines the fact that for many well-off Baltimoreans, membership in a one of the area’s many country clubs — Elkridge, Greenspring, Baltimore Country Club, Suburban, Caves Valley Golf Club, to name just a few — has been a part of life for as long as memory serves.
The bankruptcy last November of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club has brought home to Baltimore the realization that club memberships are, in fact, a luxury that many people are having to reconsider in a down economy. At clubs nationwide, members are quitting – a fact that can accelerate a club’s demise because, in the words of attorney Alan Bloom who represented a group of former Chestnut Ridge members, “It’s like a Catch-22. Every time someone leaves, dues go up.” And thus can begin a death spiral of less service, falling upkeep and further attrition.