Local Clubs Enjoy an Increase in Membership and Participation
- Wednesday, 27 October 2021 17:55
- Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October 2021 12:20
- Published: Wednesday, 27 October 2021 17:55
- Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1168
Though it’s hard to imagine an upside to the COVID pandemic, local clubs were definitely the beneficiary of a surge of new members. What was behind this trend? Why were current residents and new homeowners so anxious to join up? We sent out inquiries to a few clubs and heard a lot of good news about an increase in membership and participation.
Bill Minard, General Manager and COO of Scarsdale Golf Club at 1 Clubway Harstdale, shared the following:
“We realized a slight uptick in membership last year during COVID and a dramatic increase in membership levels this year with a significant number of inquiries coming in after New Year’s. Year over year we increased our golfing membership by 15% which is well above our historic levels. This includes members coming in directly and converting from our Summer Guest program. We are currently on a waitlist for new admissions.
During COVID, the Club became a safe haven for our members as we were able to safely provide golf and tennis from the onset. In June when outdoor dining was permitted during New York’s States Phase 3 Opening, we painstakingly established new protocols that far exceeded those mandated by New York State. In addition to providing a safe environment for our members, it created an atmosphere where our members felt safer and more comfortable at their Club than outside our doors. Our members looked at their Club as the standard of excellence. We maintained a disciplined process as we re-opened our other Club amenities including our Swimming Pool Complex, Fitness Center, Bowling Alley and Day Camp program through Phase 4.
Our board committed to a costly proactive initiative to enhance the air quality of our interior space in all of our buildings by installing an indoor air purification system using combined technology of Ultraviolet (UV) light and REME HALO/PHI Cell technology. These advanced oxidation units treat every cubic inch of air conditioned and heated space.
Using our website software, we established reservation systems for all aspects of our programming including tee times, court reservations, dining, pool, fitness, and bowling reservations. We also restricted guest usage .Our golf course realized more than a 25% increase in rounds played and our Tennis Courts were filled.
In August, we cornered the market on outside space heaters and extended our awning coverage to provide outdoor dining that members enjoyed through the end of December. We actually had heaters placed by each seat, not just the table. As a graduate of the CIA, I have a passion for the culinary arts and our food and beverage team delivered outstanding quality meals with warm, friendly, and personalized service.
I share the extent of the Board and Management’s efforts during COVID as a key factor for driving our membership levels this year. The entire staff of the Club went above and beyond for our members during very difficult and uncertain times. I remember in one of my communications to membership stating “We have never lost site on re-opening the Club and look forward to greeting you when we re-open. However, we know, it will not be quite the same for the foreseeable future.” We are now fortunate to be returning to normalcy.”
We asked Minard why so many people were looking to join a club and he said, “During COVID members could not travel, take vacations and sleep away camps were cancelled which made the Club not only the best option, but the only option for safe activities and socialization. There are still a significant number of individuals working from home and this affords extended times for the entire family to enjoy the amenities of a private club setting together. Our Club is family centric with a very diverse membership. It is apparent that new families joining our Club first, desire to provide their children with opportunities to learn the life sports with Golf, Tennis and Aquatics instruction from PGA and USTA professionals and second, for Mom and Dad to participate and enjoy all of the Club’s fine amenities in a safe environment with their friends and family. Finally, we attract many families from NYC who are anxious to get outdoors to golf, play tennis and lounge by a pool as a change from their difficult environment. We are located just 40 minutes from Grand Central Terminal and walking distance from the Hartsdale Metro North train station.”
We also asked Minard if any changes were made to accommodate new members and young families. He said, “Scarsdale Golf Club has always been family centric for many years introducing a Day Camp back in the 70’s. We have a junior sports program that teaches golf, tennis, paddle and swimming. The children are taught by professionals and compete locally and statewide. Our younger, grade school kids are also included in clinics and lessons. Coupled with the quality of our facilities and extent of our programming we continue to attract young families with our junior membership opportunities. We recognize that this could be an issue if/when everywhere is fully open again next summer.”
Learn more about Scarsdale Golf Club here:
Fox Meadow Tennis Club on Wayside Lane has also experienced a membership boom. Founded in 1883, the club sits in the middle of Fox Meadow and has six tennis courts and nine paddle tennis courts.
A surge in new families moving to town has filled the club’s membership to capacity and there is currently a waiting list. According to Membership Director Geralyn Della Cava, though the club did not run a membership drive or offer a discount on the membership fee, they find themselves in the enviable position of being fully subscribed.
Why does she think the club filled up? Della Cave attributes several factors to the increase. During the pandemic people could no longer travel and could not congregate indoors. The club offered plenty of outdoor fun, even on the coldest days of the year when paddle could be played in winter conditions.
A vibrant junior program for tennis and paddle introduced many young families to the club. After parents saw how much fun their kids were having they asked to join themselves.
And once the word was out, friends told friends and FMTC became very popular.
Court usage increased as people who worked from home found that they could use the club during the afternoon or early evening hours when they would usually be commuting. In order to accommodate the demand for courts, an online court reservation system replaced the blackboard to make it easier to plan games.
The club pro, Pavle Jefferson worked hard to set up social games for the new members and integrate them into the competitive teams.
Because COVID prevented indoor events in the club house, members planned outdoor events, food trucks, tennis and paddle open days with breakfast and there was plenty of entertainment in the darkest days of the COVID crisis. The club warmed up chilly nights by purchasing a fire pit and outdoor heaters.
The club now has members of all generations who are enjoying a very lively atmosphere.
Learn more about Fox Meadow Tennis club by emailing membership@FMTC1883.com.
Other clubs were not as forthcoming with information. We received the following response from Sunningdale Golf Club: “Although Sunningdale does not release membership data to the public, our multi-generational, family-centric culture has generated robust interest, and we currently have a waiting list.”
And Bob Musich from Quaker Ridge Golf Club said, “We have no comments to your questions.”