Country Club

There's this country club in town that thinks I'm just the kind of guy who might join them. They're wrong about that, at least about me specifically.

I guess that I am, generally speaking, the kind of guy who might want to join a country club. My age and my business would have made country club membership essentially mandatory for me fifty years ago, and at least a good idea twenty years ago.

Today, though, country club membership isn't even helpful to me.

Now that country club membership is wholly optional for pretty much everyone, even optional for the doctors and lawyers and small business owners in town, fewer and fewer people are joining them. As a result, only people who truly love golf and "the country club lifestyle" (to steal a phrase from my frequently received junk mail) belong to a country club.

That seems like a fair arrangement, except that it turns out that when guys like me don't have to join the country club to make the deals that run our businesses, there's not enough country club members to go around and keep all the country clubs afloat.

My local country club has responded by flooding both my physical and my electronic mailboxes with special offers and glorifications of a game that I enjoy well enough to play on occasion, but not well enough to chisel out an afternoon once a week to play. They send me the sort of propaganda that would make total sense to someone who's already sold on the idea of joining a country club, but they don't give me any reason to suddenly decide that joining a country club makes even a bit of sense for me.

There's a lot of old institutions dying that way, selling to a shrinking customer base and baffled as to why their pitch doesn't win converts from us unwashed masses. I've been thinking about those death throes a lot recently, the end of big publishing houses and giant law firms and cable television and churches. I don't have all my thinking done, but at least once a week the country club gives me something new to consider.