The club has long been renowned for its A.W. Tillinghast-designed golf course, but officials and members are concerned about its ability to continue to attract new members in a changing economic climate. “It’s difficult to keep young members [and] professionals [and] individuals who are interested in making sure this place survives,” says current President Joe George. “But there’s a commitment level that helps us survive.”
The 6,600-yard, par-72 course at the New Castle (Pa.) Country Club looks almost out of place when a golfer makes the long approach up the driveway, the New Castle News reported.
The club, which looks down upon the rolling greens and fairways, is celebrating its 95th anniversary at the site that was originally called the New Castle Field Club when it was built in 1923, before the name was changed in 1943 following a sheriff’s sale, the News reported.
The institution actually predates its current location, going back to 1897 when it was founded in the city’s Croton section. Only when the club outgrew the original location did it move to the current location in Neshannock Township, the News reported
New Castle CC’s golf course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast, is not just one of the most highly thought-of in the area, but also has been recognized across the world, the News reported. In 2015, it was named the 50th-best course in the world by famed golf writer John Garrity.
Now, the News reported, club President Joe George is working out how to keep the club going as he tries to entice new members amid New Castle’s changing financial climate. While the historic golf course sits in pristine condition, the News noted, club officials are searching for ways to find new members who can step up and take a swing.
“Our membership and our Board strives to keep this place private, and as a whole our membership believes in this place,” George told the News. “We believe in the fact that the community needs a country club. The community needs a club that’s like this with a nationally renowned golf course.
“With that in mind, it’s our goal to make sure this place stays here,” George added. “It’s not always easy, because we’re a small community and smaller clubs in the community are going by the wayside.”
Dick Davis, who’s been a member of the club since 1975, told the News that he hopes new members will be drawn in by what he calls a “one of a kind” golf course.
“Just the golf course is enough to make you want to come here,” Davis said. “This facility has grown. You can’t believe what it was when I joined compared to what it is now. You look at the bar, the deck, the patio, it’s just evolved bigger and bigger. The golf course has improved, too.
“We’ve had people come, go and come back,” Davis added. “The people here are always nice. Hopefully young people will see everything there is to offer and will be interested, because it’s just a fantastic place.”
For George and the club’s Board, finding young members has proved to be a challenge, the News reported.
“It’s been extremely difficult,” George said. “We’ve gone through several membership initiatives. Allen Deep is the new Membership Director and he’s working hard. It’s difficult to keep young members. It’s difficult to keep professionals. It’s difficult to keep individuals who are interested in making sure this place survives.
“So there’s got to be a little bit of commitment to the place and, you know, country clubs are not inexpensive,” George continued. “We’ve survived it [and] had our ups and downs, but with the help of a lot of good people on the Board and the committees and our membership, there’s a commitment level that helps us survive.”
Like Davis, Ed DeCarbo, a longtime member, was drawn to New Castle CC by his love of golf, the News reported.
“It’s the nicest golf course around,” DeCarbo told the News. “The club is changing in membership because the economy in this area is going downhill. So that’s what I notice about it. There’s not enough money in the area to support this club.
“Joe George and these guys know more than me, but I think you’ve got to maybe the lower the price and try to get a lot more people in here,” DeCarbo added.