High-end public courses might be expensive, but anyone with some money can get a tee time. The famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, owned by an investor group that includes Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood among others, is public with greens fees of around $500 as of December 2011. But price does not make a course exclusive. By definition, exclusive club are private, and restrict playing privileges to members and their guests. If you want access to an exclusive course without joining the club, you'll have to be a bit resourceful.
Acquire guest privileges through an invitation from a member. Exclusive clubs allow their members to invite guests. Clubs might have restrictions on how often guests can be invited or times they are allowed on the course. Typically, the guest fees are charged to the member's account. As a guest, you may reimburse the member or treat the member to dinner after the round.
Join a club that has reciprocal playing arrangements with exclusive golf courses you want to play. Research both the club you join and the clubs you'd like to play. Some clubs have reciprocity agreements with other clubs throughout the United States and others have no such arrangements. The Trump International Golf Club offers reciprocity with nine clubs, including those located in Puerto Rico, Scotland, Los Angeles and Palm Beach.
Participate in a pro-am or charity tournament. Many PGA and LPGA tour events are played on exclusive private courses. Most tour events have a pro-am on Wednesday before the official professional tournament begins on Thursday. Some tournaments have an additional pro-am on Tuesday. Amateur charity tournaments also are held at private courses. For example, the renowned Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, was the site of the annual Children's Aid Society Golf Classic in May 2011.
Book a hotel stay at a resort that offers playing privileges on an exclusive course. The Hyatt at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona, for example, offers playing privileges for its guests at the private Arroyo, Dunes and Lakes golf courses adjacent to the resort.
Find a club that offers membership for a day, such as the King Kamehameha Golf Club located on the island of Maui. Particularly in the off-season, exclusive clubs offer one-day memberships in an effort to entice potential members or increase revenue. Visit Florida in the summer, for example, and you can gain access to privates courses.