The $6 million project will include a redesign of the current pool with the addition of a zero-entry section for young children with splash pads. Also, a new adult pool with pool bar will be built. In addition, a new fitness center will go up along with an upscale outdoor and screened-in dining area. “We needed to be more family-friendly,” says General Manager Michael Murray. “We hope [the club] can be a one-stop shop.”
Chattanooga (Tenn.) Golf & Country Club has teed up its biggest expansion in at least two decades as it seeks to drive future growth by connecting with families, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
“People are doing more as a family,” Michael Murray, the club’s General Manager told the Times Free Press. “We needed to be more family-friendly.”
In a $6 million effort, the club has redesigned its existing pool and is adding a “zero-entry” section for young children with splash pads while building a new adult pool, the Times Free Press reported. Also, a fully equipped fitness center is under construction, Murray said, along with an upscale outdoor and screened-in dining area.
The project reflects how the club industry has changed, Murray noted. Where golf used to be the driver—and the club still operates its 18-hole course along the Tennessee River in the city’s Riverview section—people now expect more, he said.
“Successful clubs have a fitness center and outdoor dining,” said Murray, adding that improved dining is the number-one feature that people now seek.
Chattanooga G&CC, located about five minutes from downtown Chattanooga and founded in 1896, has the oldest course at its original site in Tennessee, according to the club. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River at the end of the old Riverview trolley line, the club was formed only eight years after the opening of the first golf course in the United States.
Tom Baird, the club’s Board president, told the Times Free Press that while the club is in a fairly strong financial position, that doesn’t help much unless money is reinvested for the members.
“The days of Dad going off and playing golf all day, those days are over,” he said. “If you’re not providing an opportunity for the family to do things together, you’re not an attractive option.”
Chris Curtis, the Board’s Vice President who’s overseeing the expansion project, added that younger members really want the added facilities.
“We’re trying to attract the whole household to the club,” Curtis told the Times Free Press. “While we’re a country club with a golf course, we’ll offer options so the whole family will enjoy the membership.”
The finished product will be a “resort-style” setup where people can sit by the renovated and expanded existing pool and have dinner and drinks, Murray told the Times Free Press.
The 2,500-sq.-ft. fitness center, to be ready in mid-May 2017, will be adjacent to the existing pool. Limited child care will be available so mothers can use the facility to work out, Murray said. “We hope [the club] can be a one-stop shop,” he added.
When Murray’s previous club, Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., undertook a similar project about 10 years ago, he told the Times Free Press, “We saw a huge membership growth.”
Curtis, a Chattanooga developer, confirmed to the Times Free Press that he first toured Vestavia CC and checked out what it had done, and learned that “They saw great success.”
Baird, a club member since 1988, said the existing pool was too small and could be too crowded. Also, it was 25 years old.
“I think we’re on a good path here,” he said about the expansion. Baird said members can “get all this done by coming to the club,” even wooing grandchildren and extended family.
Chattanooga Golf & Country Club has 715 members, the Times Free Press reported, and that membership level has been stable the last few years, though there’s been growth this year, Murray said.
“We expect to see some growth with the new facilities,” he said. “There has been a lot of interest.”
The last renovation of this size at the club, which involved the clubhouse, was at least two decades ago, Baird said. “This is one of the biggest we’ve ever bit off,” he said.
Murray wouldn’t reveal membership costs to the Times Free Press, but said there are options available depending on category and age.
“We’re looking to the future,” he said. “This can be a great thing at a great time. It’s the right time for us.”
More people are moving to Chattanooga and the downtown area, which helps the club, Murray added. He termed the golf course “one of the top five” in the state, the Times Free Press reported.
“I feel we’ve got a unique product,” said Murray, 56, who is originally from Scotland but moved to the United States in the 1980s.
He began at the Chattanooga club in March after serving at Vestavia CC, most recently as assistant general manager, for nearly 20 years.
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