Former President Donald Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach is more than doubling its initiation fee, according to members who say a surge in interest means the price is going up to $350,000.
On Sunday, he played with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Anyone wanting to join needs deep pockets. Until now, the initiation fee was $150,000, with an annual fee of $25,000 and a food and drink minimum of $1,800 a year, according to a brochure seen by the Washington Examiner.
Locals say activity at all of Palm Beach’s clubs dropped off during the pandemic. But the arrival of a new generation of tech billionaires plus the region’s aging population venturing out after being vaccinated has increased demand.
As one member put it: “Remember all those reports that people were leaving Mar-a-Lago after Jan. 6? That was BS, and the golf club just seems to have gone from strength to strength.”
Two months ago, locals described how an attack on the U.S. Capitol in January cast a chill over Trump’s properties, apparently thinning the crowd at Mar-a-Lago and triggering press reports that members were quitting. The Professional Golfers Association of America even announced it was moving its 2022 PGA Championship away from the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey as the fallout deepened.
But recent visitors to his Palm Beach properties said the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations meant both the Trump International West Palm Beach and Mar-a-Lago had been as busy as ever, with both preparing to raise their fees.
“People say it’s the most beautiful course in Florida,” said another member who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Just the best.”
For the outlay, members get access to 27 holes of palm fringe and the chance to entertain friends and family in a clubhouse decorated with magazine covers featuring the club’s owner and cases of sporting memorabilia.
Tiger Woods has a locker in the changing room, and Sylvester Stallone recently joined.
And there have been other perks for members of Trump’s properties.
“Quite a number of his ambassadors and his Cabinet came from membership of Mar-a-Lago or people he got to know on the golf courses,” said Republican operative Larry Casey. “If he runs for president again, they may see that as a possibility of a big appointment.”
The course opened in 2000 and was Trump’s first golf property.
“You never know how something’s going to turn out until you see it, until the very end,” he told the Palm Beach Post at the time. “And you can spend all the money, and you can have the best people, but you never really know until the very end how it’s going to turn out. And it just came out even better than I anticipated.”
He also said then-girlfriend Melania Knauss was learning golf in order to share his hobby.
Initiation fees have gone up and down in line with the local economy and other clubs. At times, such as in 2012, Trump waived the initiation fee entirely to draw in new blood.
The Trump Organization and the former president’s private office did not respond to requests for comment.
Laurence Leamer, Palm Beach expert and author of a book on Mar-a-Lago, said he was initially surprised that fees were going up.
“My first thought was that that’s impossible,” he said. “But at [Mar-a-Lago], my friends there say new members are coming in. They have to be real Trump believers. It was half empty. It’s not half empty anymore.”
He added that this year had brought the buzz back to Palm Beach, with fear of the pandemic receding as a new wave of the superrich arrived.
“These are people able to write a check for $350,000 and think nothing of it,” he said.
Original Author: Rob Crilly