Both Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. and Champions Run in Omaha, Neb. have experienced a boom in the popularity of pickleball, leading the clubs to expand offerings for their members. Also, The Country Club of Virginia in Richmond, Va. celebrated the one-year anniversary of its new Fitness/Racquet Sports Complex with a three-day event, showcasing all of the activities.
(As featured in C+RB’s 14th Annual Ideas Issue, June 2020)
Pickleball has become such a force on the club recreation scene that it’s now being featured in special and ongoing events that help to accommodate the demand for it, as America’s fastest-growing racquet sport.
Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. created “World Team Pickleball” to utilize court time in its indoor tennis facility on evenings where it had previously gone unused. And that utilization went through the roof. Ten pickleball courts were set up over the club’s three indoor hard courts, leaving one half-court set up with tables and chairs for participants to use when mingling between scheduled matches.
Seven play dates were scheduled from October through February for Wednesdays from 6:30-9:00 p.m. Congressional paired the pickleball event (for those 18 or older at all levels of playing ability, but with no guests allowed) with seven other “Paddle Wars” dates that were scheduled for its paddle courts on other Wednesday evenings during the late fall and early winter. Members were given the option to pay $225 to participate in both events, or $125 for either one. Both events included food and a member-sign bar.
Setting up the “mingling” area proved to be a smart move—the seven play dates for World Team Pickleball drew 90 players each week, and a total of 630 participants for the league’s first season.
Demand for pickleball also doesn’t stop when cold weather hits at Champions Run in Omaha, Neb. It became so great in the fall of 2019, in fact, that by member request, courts were moved into the club’s pavilion facility, and a special “Pickle in the Pavilion” round-robin tournament, which included snacks and cocktails, drew over 75 players.
The Goal: Find new ways to meet the swelling demand for times and places to play pickleball, America’s fastest-growing racquet sport.
The Plan: Congressional Country Club created a “World Team Pickleball” league for scheduled nights when its indoor tennis facility was going unused. Champions Run held a special “Pickle in the Pavilion” round-robin tournament.
The Payoff: Congressional CC drew 90 players each week over seven weeks, for a total of 630 participants in the league’s first season. Champions Run’s tournament drew over 75 players.
Proud new parents always go a little overboard for a one-year-old’s birthday party, even if the day is pretty much lost on the one who’s the center of the attention. But when The Country Club of Virginia (CCV) in Richmond, Va. celebrated the one-year anniversary of its new Fitness/Racquet Sports Complex, pride in the new facility was so great, just one day wouldn’t do.
CCV decided to host a three-day celebration weekend, rather than a traditional party, and pulled out all the stops to showcase all of its new baby’s best features in fitness, racquet sports and the Sports Complex’s fast-casual café. The wide array of planned events included complimentary chair massages, a staff-and-member dodgeball game (above), a kickoff for the fall racquet sports season, and, to make sure no one went hungry or thirsty, a pizza-building station and a “Cool Fuel” menu reveal and tasting.
The event also featured a Pilates open house (right), repeating a separate successful two-hour event that had been held in the new Sports Complex, during which members were invited to try Reformers, Cadillacs, the Spring Board and the MOTR machine. The open house attracted 30 visits over the two hours, with eight members subscribing to the club’s Pilates newsletter, seven registering for classes on the spot, and two coming back the next day to begin regular classes.
The open-house concept has helped CCV’s fitness department dispel several common myths about Pilates, such as “it’s just for seniors,” “it’s a women’s workout,” and the biggest one of all, that its machines are “torture” devices.