Very accurate observation regarding the people we share the game with. That, to me, means more than even course conditions or economics.
Shortly before I joined my first private club back in the mid 2000's, my usual weekend group of 10-12 guys splintered and went their separate ways. It wasn't due to disagreements or anything like that, but more a product of a few guys retiring and moving down south, and the fact that the public course where we had annual fee memberships was finding it very challenging to maintain acceptable conditions, not to mention more and more becoming indifferent toward acceptable pace of play. We'd been there for 5-6 seasons, and there was probably a little bit of boredom setting in as well, and we just collectively decided that although it had been a fun and enjoyable time there - it was time for something different.
Except everyone had their own preferences and agendas about which course they wanted to join/play on a regular basis. There were a couple of newer courses not too far off the beaten path, so there were decent options. That's when the petty bickering started. "Too far of a drive," or "too difficult to get a regular starting time there," or "not particularly fond of the layout." We were circling the proverbial drain as a group, no one wanted to find common ground. And it sucked, because I thoroughly enjoyed playing with those guys over the years and we grew quite close as a result. But apparently not as close as I originally perceived.
In Feb of that winter, I emailed the boys and told them about a nice private club that had completely done away with their initiation fee, and the annual dues were nearly the same as what our annual memberships were at the public course we'd just left. Most all of them were familiar with the place, considered it a good value, but every last one of them wanted no part of adding 15 more minutes to their commute to get there. A few weeks later, out of courtesy, I sent out a group email informing them that I was joining, and that if anyone had a change of heart to let me know, that I would make an effort to get a group started. A few guys wished me well, but the rest didn't even bother to respond.
Oh well. I figured out a way to find a good group of guys to play with several years earlier after relocating to the area from down south, so I guess I'd go through the process again.
Found a group, a competitive group of pretty good players at that, and thoroughly enjoyed the next 5 or so years there before relocating to London back in 2012.
While in London, the private club back home ran into financial issues and subsequently closed. My buddies from there migrated up the road to another private club, which quite frankly I really didn't care too much for initially. I'd played there a few times over the years and found the layout to be fairly unforgiving and quite intimidating. But the membership dues were reasonable, and I wanted to keep playing with those guys when I returned back home in 2014, so I signed up.
It ended up being a terrific decision. I still consider it a tough challenge, but I've learned the subtle nuances and where to miss on certain trouble holes having played it for a few years now. I've got some great guys to play with, and I also have some good friends who play public golf elsewhere who I try to either get up there to play with on occasion or maybe travel someplace different to enjoy their company.
But at the end of the day - this game wouldn't be the same for me if I couldn't share it with good people. The fact that I have the privilege to not only be able to share this game with good people, but to be able to do so at a terrific facility that has become my second home - I don't take that for granted.