The Ultimate Father's Day Gift?

    I'm counting on a pair of golf shorts or two from my wife and children for Father's Day today, although yesterday I went out and bought myself a new digital camera to improve the photos here on the web site and in the HomeOnTheCourse community guide. (By the way, a subscription would make a great Father's Day gift or belated Mother's Day gift at just $39 a year, hint hint.)  But in my wildest fantasy, I wouldn't mind membership in one of those destination clubs that feature a range of high-end properties in renowned golfing locations.    
    Private Escapes is one such destination company.  The firm's ad in the latest edition of Travel & Leisure Golf indicates that, if I hurry, I can gobble up one of the 16 remaining charter "positions" in the Pinnacle category of membership, and save $65,000.  I can stay in $3 million "private" homes that include such high-end accoutrements as Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems, and I'll play the finest courses on Kiawah Island, at La Quinta, The Abaco Club in the Bahamas, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and many other locations.  And when I need a break from golf, a nice apartment on Central Park in New York City will be waiting for me, with the refrigerator stocked by my Private Escapes concierge.
    If I have to ask how much all this costs, well then I can't afford it.  But since this is a dream, here goes:  Individual Pinnacle membership, the most expensive of the three plans offered, requires a $325,000 one-time fee, 100% refundable if you are one of the lucky charter members (other plans return 80%).  It permits unlimited nightly stays.  Annual dues, billed quarterly, are $22,000, and nightly fees are $185.  The entry-level Premiere membership carries a $105,000 initiation fee, $7,700 a year in dues and just $82 in nightly fees (again, unlimited nightly stays for the individual plan).  Corporate and extended family plans are priced the same or a little higher -- depending on the plan you choose -- than the individual plan, but overnight stays are restricted to 40 per year, plus seven nights of reciprocal privileges with the other clubs.  (The three private clubs, each with their own set of properties, provide limited reciprocal privileges with the others.)  Private Escapes' web site is private-escapes.com .
    The destination club model will appeal to those with a little wanderlust, and who want variety as well as high quality.  It won't appeal to those who like sleeping in their own beds and find owning traditional real estate comforting.  Also, if it is important to you to know well your fellow members at your private club, the destination model is not for you.
    Still, if variety does spice up your life, then the destination club may be appealing.  As with buying a home on a course, do your homework, ask lots of questions, and kick the tires of any destination club you might choose to consider.  The best source for information about the industry, including insights into the two-dozen clubs available, is The Helium Report .  Their web site is informative, comprehensive and offers free reports.