Heritage Golf now operates the 127-year-old club in Elmsford, N.Y. through a long-term lease with an option to buy. The golf course, which includes design influences from Seth Raynor, Charles Banks and A.W. Tillinghast, will get enhancements to a recent major renovation, and three phases of improvements to the clubhouse and other facilities and amenities are scheduled.
Knollwood Country Club, founded in Elmsford, N.Y. in 1894, is now under the management of the Heritage Golf Group, a boutique golf management company with nine country clubs in its portfolio. Heritage CEO Mark Burnett told Westchester Magazine that the company, which acquired the club from its members under terms of a long-term lease with an option to buy, plans a minimum of $4 million in capital improvements.
Knollwood CC was previously managed by Troon Golf.
“This club is such a gem,” Burnett told Westchester Magazine. “When you walk down the hallway and read about all the things that have happened here, it’s really inspiring. We look forward to bringing it back to life with our management team and the skills they bring to the club.”
The new management team at Knollwood includes General Manager John Cavaliere and Head Professional Nate Oberhofer, Westchester Magazine reported. Long-time head pro Bob Miller, PGA, will become Professional Emeritus at the club.
C+RB featured Knollwood’s Executive Chef, Tim Rios, in its October 2019 issue (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/chef-keeps-knollwood-clubs-dining-simple-and-sexy/)
KSL Capital acquired Heritage Golf in February 2020 and tapped Burnett, a former ClubCorp and American Golf executive, to be Heritage’s new President/CEO (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/ksl-capital-acquires-heritage-golf-group/).
C+RB recently reported on Heritage’s addition of Shackamaxon CC to its portfolio (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/shackamaxon-cc-acquired-by-heritage-golf-group/).
As soon as weather permits, Burnett said, “we will immediately start with improvements to [Knollwood’s] golf course.” Several tee boxes will be refreshed, long-deferred tree work will be done, and cart paths will be resurfaced right away. Some low-lying drainage areas will be addressed as well, Westchester Magazine reported.
“We don’t anticipate changes to the way the course plays, though,” Burnett says. “We really like the classic layout. It’s what this place is all about.” Knollwood completed a major redo of the course five years ago that restored many of the details of the Seth Raynor and Charles Banks design that had been lost over time, Westchester Magazine noted. A. W. Tillinghast also had a hand in designing the course.
Much attention will also be paid to the amenities and facilities, Burnett said. Phase one, set to begin immediately, will refresh the private-events side of the clubhouse with new carpet, paint, lighting, and a redo of the bar. The men’s and ladies’ locker rooms will get the same upgrade and be ready for member use when the club opens in the spring, pandemic conditions permitting.
Phase two will include extensive remodeling of the main clubhouse building, Westchester Magazine reported. The Turnesa Room—named for a family with deep connections to the club that included former longtime head pro and six-time PGA Tour winner Mike Turnesa, 1952 PGA Championship winner Jim Turnesa, and two-time U.S. Amateur champion Willie Turnesa—will become an expanded family dining space with several special features. The grill room, where Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones reportedly planned the first Masters Championship, will get a makeover as well.
An outdoor half-bar will be added, as will a large outdoor seating area with firepits and large-screen TVs,Westchester Magazine reported. The tennis area will be fixed up and pickleball may be added. Cabanas will be built in the pool area, along with other enhancements that will take place at the end of the season, to minimize disruption of the member experience during the summer.
Phase three is in the planning stages and will address use of the building that currently houses the pro shop, cart barn, and pool snack bar. Burnett said. “There’s lots of things we can do in that building, including simulators, fitness, and things like that,” he said.
Knollwood will remain a private club and Burnett expects to keep most of the current members, Westchester Magazine reported. There is a lot of room for growth, he acknowledged. Pricewise, “We will be in the upper-middle tier of the market,” Burnett said. “We want to be accessible to all, but still aspirational. It’s all about the price/value/quality equation.”
And price isn’t the most important factor, Burnett added. “Like all full-service clubs, there will be different groups within the membership,” he said. “We try to be the best when it comes to programming in golf, tennis, and aquatics so we can attract members with interests in each of them.
“The club is well-positioned to appeal the young executive golfer, who will be the family member of the future,” Burnett said. “We’re thirty minutes from Manhattan, which isn’t a bad market to tap into.”