L.A. Private Schools and Country Clubs: Caddys, Cocktails and Playdates

Since Beyond The Brochure is about applying to L.A. private elementary schools and what life is really like at some of these schools, its about time I discussed country clubs and the fact that they are a fixture on the social scene at many schools.

 

Talking to a private school parent recently, they told me they immediately fit right in when their kid started kindergarten at Curtis School since they knew everyone from their country club.

 

Growing up, my family didn’t belong to a country club. My parents were anti-establishment, left-of-center hippies. You couldn’t have paid them to join a country club. And, with Topanga State Park as our playground, who needed a club?

 

Fast forward to my daughter’s enrollment at The Willows School. This isn’t a school with a reputation for lifestyles of the rich and famous. So, when I began meeting moms who invited us to their various clubs for playdates, I didn’t really know what to think. My husband and I weren’t members of a country club. A few of our good friends were, but we had never given it much thought.

 

Playdates at a private country club? Say it ain’t so! I can’t. It’s true.

 

A group of Willows families in our grade belonged to a “low rent” private club. By “low rent” I mean about $2000 to join and a few hundred dollars per month in fees. Of course, if you play tennis like we do, the lessons can tally up to a few thousand a month. (This is small change compared to the clubs that cost six-figures to join). We visited as guests a few times and decided to become members. We’d meet Willlows families there for swimming and tennis. It was fun. The tennis camp is excellent and my daughter enjoyed a few summers there. Then, the kids got older and we moved to a house with a pool. They started saying they “hated” the club. We stopped using it and discontinued our membership. We haven’t joined another club.

 

Country clubs play a big part in the social life at some private schools. There are Willows families who belong to Brentwood Country Club, Bel Air Country Club, The Riviera, Beverly Hills Country Club, LA Tennis Club, The Jonathan Club and so on. These exclusive places are part of life at private schools for a many families. Just look through a school’s auction book and you’ll probably see auction items like golf for four at Brentwood Country Club or The Riviera or Braemar.  Dinner at The Jonathan Club. And that sort of thing. These are coveted auction items. Apparently, business gets done on the golf course. I’ve never set foot on a golf course, so I wouldn’t know. Barry (my husband) has gone on a few of these outings since he like golf. But, he always comes home saying he feels uncomfortable with the fact that the service staff are almost always minorities and he’s seen members treating them terribly, which makes him sick.

 

Some of you are probably already members of clubs so you won’t be surprised to meet other families who are members of your own club or other places. For those of you who aren’t country club members (or its not your thing), get ready. You’ll hear club names thrown around as if they were restaurants. The question is, will it be Spago or California Pizza Kitchen?

 

Here’s a piece about LA members-only Country Clubs from The Daily Truffle. 

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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of a daughter (15) and a son (12) who attend Viewpoint School in Calabasas. I live in Coldwater Canyon with my family and a rescue pit bull, Cocoa. Contact me at csimon2007@gmail.com

5 thoughts on “L.A. Private Schools and Country Clubs: Caddys, Cocktails and Playdates

  1. This is a really interesting post, Christina, and something I think few people talk about. At the tail end of my first marriage, my former father-in-law joined a VERY exclusive country club, so that my ex and I and our kids could go. I only went a few times before we split up and I had a similar reaction to your husband. It was a beautiful place but I felt embarrassed being there…all the service staff were African-American and Latino. My sister belongs to a country club in Maryland but it’s surprisingly diverse becasue it’s very inexpensive to join, so it has a low-key atmosphere. That’s much more up my alley.

  2. Pauline, thanks for the comment! I think at some schools the VERY exclusive clubs are part of the social scene and I wonder what families who can’t afford to join feel like? Or, those families who don’t want to join because of the obvious issues between members and service staff. – Christina

  3. I have never voluntarily joined a club. I say voluntarily because my first husband joined one of those tennis clubs without telling me until he’d paid the entrance fee (and it was considerably more than two grand. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased). However, my daughter has enjoyed learning to play tennis there, plus she has learned to charge lunch, which is apparently an important skill in Los Angeles. I don’t think clubs are all bad, although I bristle at the sexism and racism inherent in clubs like the Jonathan, the California, and the LA Country Club. And at my daughter’s school, Mirman, the only club we’ve ever been invited to was the Annenberg Pool House at the beach. Pretty low key.

  4. My friend does his young child’s birthday parties at a very exclusive and expensive club. Call me old fashioned, but we did most of our kids parties in our backyard, until a special occasion like a Bar Mitzvah or Sweet 16. BTW, I didn’t voluntarily join one either, but I am enjoying learning how to play golf.

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