The Lawrence Township, N.J. property, which has an 80-year history, has reemerged with a new golf course and remodeled clubhouse after selling part of its original course to a developer. The club is now promoting a “Town Center” concept as a distinguishing feature, as it plans new programming that will include educational and cultural events, such as cooking and photography classes and authors’ speaking engagements.
For years, the sign on the brick wall at the entrance to the property across from the Lawrence Township (N.J.) municipal building welcomed members and visitors to the Greenacres Country Club, reported the CentralJersey.com website of Manalapan, N.J.
While the view into the country club has changed in the last few months—piles of earth pushed around by bulldozers—the walls are still there, and so is the country club, which is now known as Cobblestone Creek Country Club, CentralJersey.com reported.
The name change is part of a broader strategy to adapt to changes in the country club industry, said Howard Deutsch, President of Cobblestone Creek and a 20-year member of its predecessor.
In essence, the new name represents a re-branding of the landmark Greenacres CC, which was organized 80 years ago, Deutsch, who also served as a President for Greenacres, told CentralJersey.com.
“There was a sea change after 2008 or 2009 in the country club industry,” Deutsch said, referring to the years of the Great Recession.
Many country clubs failed during that time, he noted to CentralJersey.com, and those that survived needed to rethink their business model and adapt to meet the changing lifestyles of their members and prospective members.
“Priorities have changed, and country clubs have to adapt,” Deutsch said.
There are now more demands on people’s time, he explained to CentralJersey.com, and the traditional concept of the country club, as a place where one spent the whole day or an entire weekend, has gone out of style.
“There has to be something to meet every member’s individual needs,” Deutsch said. “Cobblestone Creek Country Club is completely casual. People come and enjoy themselves on their own schedule.”
Along with meeting members’ changing needs, the club, which is run by its members, made the decision to remodel the clubhouse and its amenities for the first time since the 1990s, Deutsch told CentralJersey.com.
There is a new 18-hole golf course designed by golf course architect Bobby Weed that is smaller and more “walkable,” reducing the need for a golf cart and encouraging golfers to walk from hole to hole, CentralJersey.com reported.
While most country clubs charge an assessment or a fee to members to pay for periodic upgrades and remodeling projects, the former Greenacres Country Club never asked for money from its members in addition to the dues, Deutsch told CentralJersey.com.
So to pay for the new golf course and clubhouse remodeling project, the country club sold off part of the original golf course to a developer (which accounts for the mounds of dirt), CentralJersey.com reported.
The development by Lennar Homes included plans for a 97-unit “high end” active adult community, and the money from the sale of the land has been reinvested into the country club, Deutsch told CentralJersey.com.
“Our mission is to provide an exceptional level of services and facilities to our members,” he said, adding that families join a country club because it represents a “good allocation of recreation dollars.”
At the new Cobblestone Creek Country Club, members can visit the club and enjoy themselves for an hour or two, and then go home, Deutsch said. They can use it every day or on the weekend to play golf or to dine in the dining room.
“Members have said it’s like our summer camp for adults. It’s like being able to take a vacation for part of the day,” Deutsch told CentralJersey.com.
But the new Cobblestone Creek Country Club is more than its physical components, Deutsch added. It offers something new through a “Town Center” concept, he said. While a typical country club offers golf, tennis, a swimming pool, a fitness center and a dining room, “we want to offer more” through the Town Center concept, Deutsch said.
The Town Center concept, Deutsch explained, offers layers of programming not found at a typical country club, such as educational and cultural events. There will be cooking classes and photography classes, and authors will be invited to speak.
“There are a lot of members with a lot of diverse interests,” Deutsch told CentralJersey.com. “To the extent we are providing an experience to enrich them, they will feel a stronger connection to the club.”
For the full story on CentralJersey.com, go to http://www.centraljersey.com/news/the_lawrence_ledger/stories/cobblestone-creek-country-club-reflects-changing-priorities-in-industry/article_58d85a25-50c5-538f-a980-7de98fddb128.html
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