There’s beach volleyball, a soccer field, basketball courts, batting cages, tennis (obviously), pickleball, bocce, a pool with a “splash zone” for kids, a pool with an island in the middle, and two lap pools so that you can swim without interruption while listening to music through the underwater speakers. There’s an AMF bowling alley with arcade games like air hockey and pinball. Around the corner there’s a wall-to-wall Lego area and a “dream room” where overstimulated kids are snoozing, a 23-seat movie theater with a fully stocked snack bar, steam rooms, TV rooms and wine cellars for storing and sampling.

“When you look at most country clubs, they do have a lot of amenities these days,” says Mike Orosco, general manager of Santa Barbara’s Montecito Club, which has all of those activities as well as a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “But we’ve really taken it to the nth degree here.”

The price tag: just shy of $120 million, financed by Ty Warner, the Beanie Baby entrepreneur who bought the club in 2004. Over the top? Perhaps. But the Montecito Club, which charges a $275,000 initiation fee, is far from alone in spending big money on capital-improvement projects these days. All over
the country, clubs are shelling out unprecedented sums. In some markets it feels like an arms race, with clubs needing to spend more or risk annihilation. Industry insiders say Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte is spending $27 million on its clubhouse. They say Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles budgeted just under $50 million for a clubhouse makeover, and Houston Country Club is planning $100 million of structural improvements. These clubs had no comment or didn’t return calls seeking a comment.

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