CARLSBAD — A new type of golf club is growing in popularity amid a revival for the sport due to the pandemic.
Known as “affiliate golf clubs,” they attract non-traditional golfers and individuals who do not belong to a country club by meeting at various courses (typically municipal) and develop themes to engage and recruit members to the sport. The primary objective is to have fun and socialize without the country club feel.
Beachside Golf Club was founded by Solana Beach resident Kristin Finlay in 2020 when she lived in Los Angeles. Finlay’s co-ed club, sanctioned by the Southern California Golf Association, has about 20 members from L.A. to San Diego.
Outside of golf, Finlay said another essential component of her club is philanthropy, which is why they host fundraisers to benefit First Tee, a junior golf program for underprivileged youth.
“There are a lot of these popping up, and the SCGA is really supporting them,” Finlay said of the affiliate clubs. “These are people who are interested in golf. It’s helping to grow the game of golf through various populations.”
Finlay said the pandemic saw a significant increase in “affiliate clubs,” while the golf association has reported a 25% increase since 2020. According to reports, 6.2 million people played golf during the pandemic as courses were one of the few facilities allowed to open during the early months of the pandemic.
“It grew very organically with weekly range outings that became pretty regular,” said Beachside member Christine Franz, a Carlsbad resident. “We had over 60 people show up to our tournament in July. It’s about people wanting to get together with their friends on the golf course and making a more comfortable space.”
Franz found the club on Instagram this year and has played in two events. She said the club is a fun way to learn the game, meet new people and do good for her community.
Franz said the co-ed component was also a draw as she likes to play with men and women.
Members pay $100 annually, with $50 going to the club and the remainder to SCGA membership. The association allows players to be eligible for rankings and a handicap, plus other perks.
“I like to play different courses,” Franz said. “I didn’t want to join a country club because you are locked into one club. They’re all young professionals in their 30s, and Kristin’s really big into philanthropy, and I liked that.”
Another difference is how some Beachside Golf Club members dress for a round, apparel not usually seen on country club courses. The colorful garb is one way for players to express themselves without following a rigid standard of private clubs.
Finlay also said her tournaments are mostly held on municipal courses, where dress codes aren’t as strict.
“We are focused on getting the non-traditional golfer,” she said.
Beachside Golf Club is hosting a mixer beginning at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1 at Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside. For more information, visit www.beachsidegc.com.