After the 92-year-old Shelby, N.C. club was on the market for about a year, a group of current and former members formed a non-profit to purchase and run it. Already, over $1 million has been raised to be put towards needed improvements in the clubhouse, pool, golf course and tennis courts. Former high-ranked tennis pro Tim Wilkison, a Shelby native who played at the club as a youth, is also helping to generate new interest.
A group of current and former members at Cleveland Country Club in Shelby, N.C. have come together in an effort to purchase and reinvigorate the club, the Shelby Star reported.
Membership at the club has declined in recent years, member David Teddy told the Star, and its current owners, Cleveland Country Club Inc., had the club on the market for about a year. Members at the club then made the decision to partner to form a new non-profit, Cleveland Country Club Member Acquisition Inc., to purchase and run the club.
“It’s just cool to have a club that’s been around this long and to have the members rally around it and essentially save the club for the next generation,” Teddy said.
According to Teddy, the group has worked closely with the Board and Alliance Bank to purchase and turn the club around, in hopes of driving up membership, the Star reported. The group is currently working on a goal of raising $2 million to invest in renovations and improvements for the clubhouse, swimming pool, golf course and tennis courts and so far have raised upwards of $1 million.
The group hopes to close the transaction on the club in mid-May, Teddy said, but efforts are already underway to boost membership, beginning with a revival in the tennis program that will include new “star power” leadership and direction, the Star reported.
Shelby native Tim Wilkison, known for his professional tennis career during which he reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 21 in the world, will now take the reins on the courts where he often played growing up. Wilkison has spent the past 20 years as a coach, coaching internationally along with running several programs in North Carolina through his Tim Wilkison Academy.
He will now serve as the interim tennis pro, but is currently in talks with candidates about filling the position of Director of Tennis for the soon-to-be revamped program at the club, the Star reported.
“The original courts are there,” Wilkison said. “I played on those when I was eight years old. It’s an unusual, but a nice unusual, feeling.
Wilkison told the Star that his philosophy on tennis has three major components that he plans to implement at Cleveland CC. His first two goals are for players to have fun and to build connections, which he said encourages people to continue playing.
The third goal, he said, is to help players make progress and continually take their skills to the next level.
“Everybody wants to get better. Everybody wants to improve,” he said. “Everybody has different goals, but you have to have a program that can take them to the next level and the next level and the next level. That’s something I can definitely do.”
On April 10th, the Star reported, Wilkison led a tennis clinic for youth players as a reintroduction of sorts at the club.
John Kendrick, head of Cleveland CC’s tennis committee, told the Star he remembers how many great players, Wilkison included, came out of the club’s tennis program in the ’60s and ’70s.
Kendrick believes Wilkison’s help will be the start of a push to build the program back to its former heights, the Star reported.
“Over the past years, tennis in Shelby has not been dead, it’s just been sleeping,” Kendrick said during the April 10th clinic. “And I can tell you right now, with this turnout we have today, we are going to wake the tennis community back up, without a doubt.”
Members leading the turnaround effort at Cleveland CC are working with Atlanta-based Private Club Associates to guide its improvement, the Star reported. They have also conducted interviews with other current and past members about improvements that could be made.
Two main focuses will be on improved amenities and a lower price point, the Star reported.
The first priority on the amenities will be at the clubhouse, with designers currently working on renderings of improvements that could be made. The pool will be the next focus, and the hope is to have a new pool open by spring 2020.
There are also long-term plans to install a fitness facility next to the pool.
The club recently turned 92 years old, and Teddy said the hope is to have the club turned around by 2027 for a major centennial celebration, the Star reported.
“It just sort of made sense for the people that have been members of the club for so long to control our own destiny and for we, in effect, to become our own membership committee and try to improve the product,” Teddy said.