Field Notes: The Outpost Club thriving on golfing society model

Golfing societies, akin to a traveling road show for golf nuts, were actually prevalent in the United States in the early 1900s and paved the way for the private club concept that we all know today. 

That private club model in the United States seemed to work well for close to a century, until the Great Recession hit in 2008 and the “luxury sport” of golf was in the proverbial crosshairs. Golfers across the country were fleeing private club memberships by the thousands and few, if any in the business, were entertaining thoughts of building any new golf courses.

Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania. :: Photo: David Droschak

That helped lead to a throwback concept of a British-like golfing society here for golfing enthusiasts. It was to be called The Outpost Club — or as the passionate founders Colin Sheehan, Quentin Lutz and Will Smith like to call it — the OC. 

The OC is alive and well and will celebrate its 15th anniversary in February 2025. . 

“I’d be lying if I thought we would get to this stage,” says Sheehan, the former longtime men’s golf coach at Yale. “I didn’t realize at first how our events would really drive it. Now, I run into Outpost Club members everywhere — in the UK or waiting for my clubs at the baggage claim in Florida. It’s fantastic and it really is a society in a true sense of it. Outpost Club members just have a certain love and sincere enthusiasm for the game.”

It costs $30,000 to join The Outpost Club, with just an annual fee of $1,500 per year thereafter to play some of the world’s best golf layouts. 

Despite not advertising, the invitation-only OC has less than a 2% attrition rate per year, and its membership cap of 800 is always close to being full. 

The OC started with a modest eight events in its early years, but now stages around 70 tournaments for its members, including 10-12  international events. 

“We had a number of relationships that provided an entrée into clubs such as Oakmont and others that gave us an audience in front of members,” Lutz says of the early sales pitch.  

Sheehan said the overall goal of the Outpost Club has been to attract events at significant architectural designs or historic layouts. For example, one such upcoming trip this year is to Cape Cod to play Eastward Ho, which opened in 1922. 

“It may be the most underrated course of America,” Sheehan says. “The COVID-19 time period renewed the enthusiasm for golf, and that was helpful to us. People seem to be motivated to play more golf and still for the OC variety is the spice of life. And playing courses like a private club and U.S. Open venue such as Brookline [Country Club outside of Boston] definitely moves the needle. 

“The OC has transitioned from golfers wanting access to play great private clubs to having a great events calendar and a bond that members form with the other guys that are in the society,” says Lutz, the former president of Arthur Hills Golf Course Architecture. “These guys are now getting invited to each other’s member-guest or they are going on golf trips together. My wife calls it a fraternity for old guys.”

Gil Hanse.


Let the anticipation begin. 

In the permitting process now, the renowned architectural team of Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner are expected to break ground this winter on a unique property in the golf-rich state of Florida.

The High Grove course in Venus, Florida, will be situated on a hand selected piece of property among 1,213 acres of citrus groves atop undulating, ancient sand dunes that rise in elevation from 105-175 feet above sea level. 

“When we first heard about the High Grove property and its elevation changes we were a bit skeptical,” Hanse says. “However, the site is even better than we imagined. Not only does it have a large ridge running through it but the ground has considerable small-scale undulation. The property’s overall movement, along with pure sandy soil entirely among orange groves provides a unique canvas on which to create this golf course.”

The golf retreat, with no real estate component, is expected to draw a worldwide membership pool with a limit of just 150 members at a cost of $200,000 each. There will be a pro shop, clubhouse and cabins with 48 bedrooms available at the rural location. Hanse and Wager will also design a 20-acre short course at High Grove. 

Despite being in the middle of the state, getting there is not difficult. The Sebring airport is 30 minutes away and the site is between 70 and 135 minutes by car from Orlando, Tampa or Miami. Jupiter and Naples are each about 90 minutes away. 

High Grove is not intended to be anyone’s local club, the founders say. Instead, the golf retreat anticipates operating from Labor Day to Memorial Day where members will typically bring guests for one or two nights. In addition to golf, within 10 minutes, there are multiple large, hunting preserves with deer, quail and turkey.

Ryan Hanks, the CEO of Madison Capital in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a co-founder of the project, as is former Yale men’s golf coach Colin Sheehan and Alabama lawyer Bert Guy. Scott Nye, the director of golf at Merion Golf Club, will assume that same position at High Grove when the course is opened in December 2025.  

“Outside of being along the ocean we cannot think of a better natural site for golf in Florida,” Hanse said.

“High Grove will be special occasion golf,” Sheehan said. “You could justify a membership even if you’re only going to get there two or three times a year. It’s what I would call a boutique private resort.’

The Cradle, Pinehurst Resort, Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina.


There are still a few days remaining for golfing enthusiasts across the nation to cash in on one of the sport’s biggest charity opportunities. 

Rounds 4 Research is an innovative program spearheaded annually by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and is aimed at generating resources to fund research. The premise is simple: Golf facilities can support the effort by donating rounds of golf for two or four or stay-and-play packages and other items that are auctioned online to bidders. 

There are more than 1,000 courses online to bid on with the following Southeast states leading the way with the most items listed — South Carolina (184), North Carolina (141), Georgia (134), Florida (104) and Tennessee (103). Some of the courses include Pinehurst Resort, Chechessee Creek, Innisbrook and Atlanta Country Club. 

The bidding runs through Sunday, April 28. 

Rounds 4 Research allows GCSAA chapters and turfgrass foundations to participate as fundraising partners with the vast majority of proceeds going back to those organizations. In this way, these organizations can direct the proceeds to specific projects that will have the most significant impact in their local areas.


National Golf Day on May 8-10 in Washington, D.C., will showcase the industry’s impressive economic impact. During the three-day event, a host of representatives from all corners of the industry will converge on Capitol Hill to discuss with policymakers the key issues affecting the golf industry. Last year, the American Golf Industry Coalition released a national economic impact study, which shows golf’s growth in popularity as a recreational activity with roughly 1 in 7 people participating and a $102 billion direct economic impact in 2022, an increase of 20% over its $84 billion direct impact in 2016. … Golfers across the country appear to be fired up about this year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. This is the third time in championship history that the number of entries has exceeded 10,000. The record was established last year when 10,187 entries were accepted for the championship at the Los Angeles Country Club in California. In 2014, 10,127 entered to play in the 2014 U.S Open at Pinehurst No. 2. This year, 10,052 entries were accepted from golfers in all 50 states, including 381 from host state North Carolina, as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and 70 foreign countries. “The U.S. Open’s two-stage qualifying process is unique among major championships in that it provides thousands of professional and amateur golfers worldwide an opportunity to earn a place in the 156-player field,” said USGA Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer. Local qualifying, conducted at 109 sites in 44 U.S. states and Canada, is being staged through May 20. … In partnership with the PGA of America and CBS Sports, the network will air the half-hour special “We Love to Play this Game” on Saturday, April 27, at 2:30 p.m. Narrated by Amanda Balionis, the special presentation highlights the unique stories of six PGA of America Golf Professionals and their respective journeys to compete in the PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship or KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.