After a $6.1 million renovation, the New York club’s facility includes a new fitness center, 144,000-gallon pool, and a new casual dining section. The project was spurred by the 121-year-old club’s realization that “there’s a whole lot of people who would enjoy the country-club amenities but aren’t golfers,” President John Ward said.
The Country Club of Rochester (CCR), Rochester, N.Y., held the opening of its Member Activity Center on June 23, the Rochester Business Journal reported, after a $6.1 million renovation that includes a new fitness center, a 144,000-gallon pool and a new casual dining section.
The center added 25 to 30 jobs at the club, the Business Journal reported, bringing it to roughly 100 staffers in the summer.
“Part of our mission is family,” said John Ward, who became President of the club’s Board of Stewards on June 1. “What we realized is there’s a whole lot of people who would enjoy the country-club amenities but aren’t golfers.
“Part of our mission is heritage, and we’re not taking anything away from the experience,” Ward added. “[The center] lets everybody come for the experience they want to have at the club.”
CCR is the oldest country club in Rochester, dating back to 1895. Today it has more than 540 members, the Business Journal reported.
The renovation took some eight months to complete but was planned for more than four years, club officials said. The renovations also included the addition of a golf simulator—a technical indoor system that allows players to practice their swings virtually.
“I think the expectations in opening was that [the simulator] would be very successful, but to me I was shocked about how well it was received and how utilized it was just through the first couple of weeks,” Michael Smith, CCR’s General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, told the Business Journal.
A golf course renovation totaling $600,000 also was completed recently that included the rebuilding of all sand bunkers, replacing the existing drainage in the bunkers, adding seven new bunkers to the course and the removal of some trees near fairways, club officials said.
CCR’s leaders said the golf course will remain a priority for the club, the Business Journal reported, “I’m very proud of the club for being able to maintain its dedication to golf,” said Elizabeth Murray, a long-term member and Board member who served on the Member Activities Center planning committee.
“Throughout this whole project, we continued with our golf long-range plan,” Murray noted.
The main driver of the center renovation was the need to support the needs of families today, the Business Journal reported. “Probably 80 percent of the people that have joined in the last year cited this investment as something that was really important in their decision,” Ward said. “It really helps people get their head around how they’re going to be able to utilize the country club. [Golf] will always be a centerpiece for us, but now we have more options for more people.”
The center is open seven days a week and offers a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Business Journal reported. “If you think about how active families are nowadays, and after school kids might have sports and things like that, historically I think people felt, ‘Well, I can’t go to the country club,’ Murray said. “But this is an area where it’s very casual family dining. It has something that everyone can enjoy.”
As country clubs across the nation need to find new ways to attract members, the renovation will help CCR stay ahead of others locally and nationally, said Ray Martino, a long-term member of the club and a Board member from 2008 to 2014.
“The industry is challenged,” Martino told the Business Journal. “That’s why we did this, so we could keep up and set ourselves apart. We’re going to be a stronger competitor. This is an investment in Rochester, and we think it will be an attraction for families to stay here.”
The recession did not hurt CCR like it did others in the industry because of a strong financial plan, the desire to renovate with future members in mind and the support of the club’s members, Ward told the Business Journal.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been in a position to be able to make investments like this rather than keep figuring out what is going to be taken out,” Ward said. “There’s a lot of great clubs in the area, a lot of great historic places, and it’s just tough. That’s not just Rochester, that’s everywhere. Fortunately, we’re not in that boat.”