Compensation at High-End Private Clubs:  It Gets Very Rich, at the Very Top  

Apr 27, 2022 | News

We heard last week from a Proponent member employed as Director of Instruction at a top-tier private club. This member, who is highly compensated, wished to compare her pay package with that of coaches in similar roles at equally high-end clubs.

We hadn’t done a deep dive into compensation for this subset in quite a few years. Like the inquiring member, we were curious to see what these jobs are currently paying.

We began the task knowing that plenty of Proponent members have walked away from the private-club environment because they felt they could earn more elsewhere and perhaps to avoid the mental strain that dealing with a membership can cause.

For those who function well in the member-only setting, there is every financial reason to pursue employment with the private clubs at the top of the market, as measured by initiation fee. Researching Proponent Group’s 2022 Compensation and Operations Survey data, we found a $100,000 difference between what the most up-market clubs pay their Directors of Instruction and what the more mainstream private clubs pay them.

That figure of $100,000 is also our dividing line between the two categories of club—initiation fees over or under $100k.

Thus, at the clubs with initiation fees over $100,000, our members holding the Director title averaged $257,017 in total compensation (average overall earnings of $279,400 minus an average revenue-share back to the club of $22,383). At the clubs with initiation fees under $100,000 our members holding that title averaged $157,172 in total compensation (average overall earnings of $169,901 minus average revenue-share to the club of $12,729).

(For some context, we looked at total compensation, on average, for all Proponent Group members. That figure was $174,125, arrived at by subtracting a revenue-share number of $11,878 from overall earnings of $186,003.)

The high-end private club Directors of Instruction generated most of their additional $100,000 in compensation from higher private lesson volume, averaging $165,890 in lesson revenue versus $95,417 for their peers at less exclusive clubs. They also averaged $50,333 in salary versus $27,767 for their peers at the less exclusive clubs.

Coaches at clubs with initiation fees over $100,000 charged an average of $154 per hour for member lessons and $164 for non-members. Coaches at all other clubs charged an average of $140 for members and $159 for non-members.

They also have significantly better non-cash benefits with 100 percent reporting free meals at work (66 percent at other clubs), a 401k with matching from the club (78 percent at other clubs) and an education allowance (50 percent at other clubs). Eighty-nine percent reported receiving health care coverage from their clubs (66 percent at other clubs), 78 percent get paid vacation days (56 percent at other clubs) and 67 percent get disability insurance coverage paid by the club (44 percent at other clubs).