Charlotte Country Club
Embracing warmth and tradition
Business View North America interviews representatives of Charlotte Country Club for our focus on Outstanding U.S. Fitness & Wellness Facilities
Established in 1910, Charlotte Country Club was the original club of its kind in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina. Known as a Top 20 Private Club in the United States, this member-owned country club spans 250 acres, and features an award-winning 18-hole Donald Ross golf course, along with a variety of other amenities including tennis, pickleball, squash, and swimming facilities. The tree covered campus provides a lush parkland, giving the impression of calm serenity, although Charlotte Country Club is only four miles from the center of the busy city. In 2009, a restoration was completed on the 68,000 square foot historic clubhouse, preserving the rich traditional architecture, fixtures, and furnishings of the prestigious club and protecting the original character for future members.
With a membership of close to 1000, the club maintains the same warmth and tradition that has been present for generations. Priscilla Eich, General Manager & CEO, shares, “Our club is ‘old Charlotte’, you might say, and we are very fortunate to have quite a few legacy members. We have members who grew up here… whose grandparents were members. It is a wonderful family community.” With only two member categories, those under 35 and everyone else, all members have the same privileges. Although there are no specific criteria for membership, the process does take some time, and there is a waitlist, which Eich says has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic.
Laurie Wilson, Director of Communication and Membership explains, “You have to be a good cultural fit for the club and be nice and courteous. It’s a special place, because we bring on new members who already know members and kind of propagate that feeling of family that we have here. There are really no criteria other than just being a wonderful warm person.”
The COVID pandemic brought challenges for Charlotte Country Club, but they quickly learned to pivot and adapt, creating opportunities for members to safely gather and enjoy recreation and socializing. Tenting an outdoor patio and adding more seating provided dining space for up to 100 people at a time. With potential supply shortages, Charlotte Country Club was fortunate to have support from regular vendors such as Sysco Foods, and US Foods, who Eich explains have been incredible in supplying products and troubleshooting supply issues.
She acknowledges, “We had record numbers, even in 2021. If we look at ala carte dining from 2019 to 2021, there was an 187% increase in patio dining, and it was truly the member favorite. They were out there all year long with heaters or fans. We also have 40 Adirondack and rocking chairs alongside the back of the clubhouse that overlook the golf course, and that was the place for everybody to congregate, whether it was before dinner or after a golf round. Everyone was comfortable because it was outside, and it was a beautiful environment.” The club was also able to take advantage of an event lawn, pivoting events such as weddings to the outdoors.
Reporting strong member engagement during this time, Eich also notes a record increase in golf, with walking rounds up 81% from 2019 to 2021. She shares, “It’s been very busy on the golf course, very busy in tennis – the tennis teaching and clinics have doubled since 2019. We added pickleball courts in 2018, and we are going to add four more courts. Pickleball has been extremely popular, and it’s gotten people out there on the courts who wouldn’t necessarily play tennis – the families and the older people – it’s more of a social event.”
Annually the club reports over $5 million per year in food and beverage sales, with several dining choices available to members. A new dining option is currently underway. It will be a brand-new building in the same area as the pools, with the snack bar in the lower level. Eich shares, “For the very first time, it will be a more casual atmosphere, where it’s not formal dining but rather you can be in and out within an hour and you don’t have to get dressed up to attend. Right now, we don’t allow denim on campus. The current dining facilities are very traditional formal, so this will be the one opportunity on campus for anyone to roll in, come as you are, no reservations, and it will be a brand-new concept.”
The project will also include an update to the pool area; a large complex which includes a competition pool, an adult pool, and a dive pool, along with two children’s pools which are being updated to one larger, zero entry pool. “That is all being renovated now with new youth cabanas, and a family center and this brand-new casual dining outlet,” says Eich. “It’s very exciting and we’re looking forward to all those amenities. Our young families in particular will be enjoying that.”
Recently, the club added the Golf House, an indoor golf learning center where members can play on simulated courses, hitting balls outside through large bay doors. “It’s very much indoor/outdoors, but you are covered and there are heaters and fans indoors,” says Eich, “The Golf House has four stations for members to learn or practice; they also can open up for a social event. Sort of your top golf experience, where you could have up to 18 members come and play against one another, and play on St. Andrews or any of 200 other different golf courses via simulator golf.”
Wilson adds, “The Golf House has some of the best technology in the country, we’ve got TrackMan, we’ve got this pad on the floor where a golfer can measure their weight and see if their weight is being distributed correctly when they swing. It’s really a world class facility.”
At the new Family Center, in contrast to the advanced technology of the Golf House, there has been an effort to scale back on technology, emphasizing traditional board and table games. The emphasis is on games with the family and interacting face to face. “They love that they can just come and have conversations with each other and time with their families without phones and video games and all that,” says Wilson. The Family Center will offer an area for children over the age of 10 to enjoy the space without parental supervision, providing entertainment while parents linger over a meal or a glass of wine. There will also be a dedicated childcare area for parents to use while enjoying other recreational activities at the club. This center is meant to be multi-generational, giving parents and grandparents opportunities to spend time with children outside of the pool.
Each of these new endeavors were the result of membership feedback, beginning in 2018, first with membership surveys, and then with steering committees appointed for each project. Eich recounts, “They met with the architects, and the architects then created large drawings. We then had open meetings, where we had large boards with pictures of what these projects would look like. We had eight small group meetings with 40 to 50 members at each. Ten at a time they walked through each individual project with the steering committee and asked questions, made comments, made recommendations. We engaged quite a few members through that process. It was the most successful rollout of a capital project that I’ve witnessed.”
Working closely with Jenkins Peer Architects, and Edison Ford Construction was something Eich declares made the process much easier through the planning and the construction phases. Keeping members apprised during construction with a biweekly report has been useful in keeping people engaged. Wilson suggests, “It gets them excited, especially as we’re nearing project completion. It’s full of photographs too, so they can have a mini hardhat tour and see the project unfold every other week.”
With so much growth happening, Eich is excited to share what will come next for the club, noting that 2025 is expected to include a restoration of the golf course, focusing on the Donald Ross design. In the next year, efforts will be on rebuilding an indoor tennis facility, with three clay courts and the possibility of a fitness center. She states, “We are also engaging another company to help us determine what the membership wants next. We never stop looking into the future. We are always looking forward, always planning for the future, and making sure that we are responsible and strategic in our plans.” Wilson adds that the club is also focused on “still sticking to our traditions.” Traditions, that for over a century have made Charlotte Country Club a place of relaxation and recreation, preserving the past, while growing to accommodate the needs of the future.
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AT A GLANCE
Charlotte Country Club
What: A prestigious, member-owned club established in 1910
Where: Charlotte, North Carolina
Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. – George Todd, Jr., CTCB- www.welchtennis.com
Welch Tennis® has been a nationwide tennis and multi-sport builder for over 45 years. Welch is a full service construction, resurfacing, fencing, lighting, equipment and supplies and the largest builder of sub-irrigated courts: HydroGrid, Hydrocourt, as well as DecoTurf systems in the U.S.