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Marolt: Pulling our hair out to make private clubs special

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

It would have been one thing if I had been in love with the Snowmass Club and it told me it didn’t want me. I might have been heartbroken.

But it didn’t happen that way. We grew apart gradually. The club raised the dues, dropped orange slices in the ice water and locked the closet where the sound system is so nobody could turn the volume up.

There wasn’t a mass exodus. It was more an orchestrated slow-drip matriculation of locals until one day I looked up from the bench press and realized that I knew nobody in the room and couldn’t get the adrenaline flowing with an REO Speedwagon tune drizzling from the overhead speakers. It was time for me to fly.

I unceremoniously called the next day and dropped our membership, and four months later someone in my family said, “We never go to the club anymore. I think we should drop our membership.” I’ve never even gone back for a $14 cheeseburger at the bar. It just feels like a place I’m not supposed to be, so I don’t want to be, kind of like the graveyard. I think that only makes sense.

I tell this story for a reason, and that reason is that I don’t understand all the fuss going on over in Aspen these days about locals not being welcome to play golf at the Maroon Creek Club. Years ago, before the sod was imported, the developers agreed to let a few locals play there every summer as one of the conditions of the project’s approval. They are apparently honoring that promise at a cost to the local duffer of a couple hundred bucks per round. My take on the matter is, why would anybody want to go play golf at a private club where they are obviously not wanted?

I say that, and then I think: If I was a rich black man or, better yet, a wealthy Hispanic woman, I might try to take a stand against Augusta National Golf Club, not because I give a twit about playing golf there but so I could join the legions of the enlightened and make my attempt at defying that club’s irritatingly ignorant bottom-right-desk-drawer policy of codified racism and misogyny. I honestly think it would be worth hopping the fence and sneaking in a few holes before being chased around by a score of caddies and being hauled down to the local pokey and using my one phone call to get in touch with Rick Riley. The first thing I would do is congratulate the club on its 82-year successful defense of the indefensible by token gestures. It’s done an incredible job!

But we don’t have that going on here at the Maroon Creek Club as far as anyone I know knows. Its policy is colorblind except for green. I’m OK with that. I didn’t come into the valley knowing it, but through a lifetime of living here I’ve gotten used to the idea that this is no country for thin wallets.

This beautiful part of the world exists in its current state that we all love because we have very little tolerance for the middle class and lower. We don’t say it; we write it on price tags. Sure, we lower the cost of temporary admission a notch during the offseasons, but you are still most likely pretty well-off financially if you are visiting here unless you are wearing out the cushions and your welcome on a friend’s sofa.

The thing is, forcing the Maroon Creek Club to offer a few rounds of cheap golf to locals is less of a community amenity than it is a tiny divot on the fringe of one of its perfectly manicured greens. If the club feels it is necessary to insulate itself from the wonderful community that has built the incredible town that has made it even possible for the club to charge a couple hundred grand for a membership there, then it obviously doesn’t have a clue.

On the other hand, you know exactly what you are missing there — nothing! Whatever they are offering there, you can get a lot of other places around here. The only thing that makes a private joint like the Maroon Creek Club unique at all is fools like us knocking at the thick door and begging to get in. That’s it! If we just leave the club alone, then it’s got nothing special on us.

Roger Marolt likes to play golf in the rough. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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