The 88-year-old club in Westchester County, N.Y. has filled five key management positions in the last five years and is now striving to “find the balance between the traditions of the club and the 21st century,” says new General Manager Tanya Barshell.
Many country clubs update their golf courses, renovate their clubhouses, and sink funds into other worthwhile capital improvements to satisfy current members and attract new ones, noted Westchester Magazine, which has a readership in the affluent suburbs north of New York City.
In the case of Mount Kisco (N.Y.) Country Club (MKCC), which was founded in 1928, the club has also taken steps to “renovate” its staff, Westchester Magazine reported. The process began five years ago with a new head golf professional, and the club recently brought in additional fresh management in four other key positions.
“It’s not just about attracting new members. It’s also about increasing participation and satisfaction with current members,” the latest addition, Tanya Barshell, who joined as General Manager this year, told Westchester Magazine.
Barshell, a native of South Africa, came to Mount Kisco from Cold Spring Country Club on Long Island, where she also worked at Old Westbury Country Club.
At Mount Kisco, Barshell manages a staff of about 20 year-round employees that balloons to 100 during the peak season, Westchester Magazine reported. “The most challenging thing a general manager does is managing people,” she pointed out. “You have to treat people with respect—both the staff and the members.”
That’s no easy job, considering the diverse membership at a club like MKCC, where the 315 member families have interests in everything from bridge and golf to fine dining and barbeque, Westchester Magazine reported.
“It’s a mix of older members and young families,” Barshell explained. “We do summer camps for kids as well as bridge on Thursday for the ladies. It’s all about finding out what people are looking for. That’s how a club stays relevant.”
Then there is the often-perceived stuffy nature of private clubs—a perception that’s all too often based in reality, Westchester Magazine noted. “You have to find the balance between the traditions of the club and the 21st century,” Barshell said. “For example, some of the younger members may want to allow jeans every night, but you still have members who have been here 40 years and believe in the traditional dress code.”
Other new members of the MKCC management team, Westchester Magazine reported, include Jack Lynch, a tennis pro who came from Greenwich (Conn.) Country Club, and Raphael Padilla, the new Food and Beverage Director, who is revamping menus and staff.
Their addition rounds out a team that also includes Head Golf Professional and New Mexico State University graduate Chris Case, who was hired in 2011 and has shown club members what a positive, energetic leader could do for staff morale and member enthusiasm, Westchester Magazine reported.
In addition, Andrew Agnew, who came aboard as Golf Course Superintendent three years ago, built on existing course renovations, tree removal, and stonework by improving turf and playing conditions. Of late, he has been upgrading some of the property’s more decorative landscaping. Some other changes under consideration are shifting the 17th fairway to the right to open optional playing lines off the tee, and possibly softening the treacherous fifth green.
“The club membership has evolved over the last 10 or 15 years,” Agnew observed to Westchester Magazine. “That’s what brought about the staff changes. It’s important to stay current and keep up with the climate of the golf and club business. The members have a lot to be excited about. I can’t wait for what it will be like in three to five years.”
That feeling permeates MKCC these days, Westchester Magazine reported. “The team is now in place,” Barshell said, “and we’re looking to improve the club in all aspects, both inside and outside.”