(Photo of “Hang Time” 17th hole by Mike Dougherty, Rockland/Westchester Journal News)
During the official grand opening of the Rees Jones-redesigned golf course on the former Brynwood G&CC property, the co-managing partners outlined how they hoped to distinguish the club in the competitive Westchester County market. In addition to allowing cellphones, jeans and music, the eventual addition of large condo units will be designed to appeal to those who want to move out of their homes but still “upscale their lifestyle and not feel like they’re downsizing,” said Jeffrey Mendell.
The Summit Club at Armonk (N.Y.), created from the former Brynwood Golf & Country Club (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/summit-club-seeks-approval-for-residential-component-of-development/), marked the official grand opening of its Rees Jones-redesigned golf course with a ribbon-cutting on July 24th—and during the event, its principal partners described how they hoped to distinguish the club in the competitive Westchester County (N.Y.) market.
“It’s really important for every club to find an identity, who they want to appeal to,” co-managing partner Jeffrey Mendell told the Rockland/Westchester Journal News. “We’re going to be a little younger and hipper than most clubs.
“We’ll have a few less rules,” Mendell continued. “You can use your cellphone on the golf course without being yelled at. You can wear jeans on a Friday night. We’ve got music in the golf carts and coolers on the back.
“We want people to have fun playing golf,” Mendell said. “It’s a tough enough sport. Let’s face it, we all work hard. When we want to go play, we want to enjoy ourselves.”
The golf course improvements under a master plan that was originally drawn up by Jones in 2011 involved configuring three new holes, rebuilding all of the bunkers, stretching many existing holes, building new tee boxes, upgrading the driving range, removing a large number of trees and converting the greens to bentgrass, the Journal News reported.
The 156-acre property always presented challenges for golf due to its slope, but the modifications have lessened the impact, the Journal News reported. And the new holes include the signature 17th, a par 3 that plays 185 yards downhill from the back tee, and is aptly named “Hang Time.”
“[The course] had good bones, but it needed some upgrades,” said Mendell.
“All of the first-phase stuff is done,” added Chris Schiavone, the other co-managing partner who will direct management of the club through the Metropolitan Golf Group.
“We have 18 holes in play, it’s looking great and it’s going to keep getting better,” Schiavone said. “There are some other elements of the Rees Jones design that we will implement over time, but most of it is complete.”
A new clubhouse and sports pavilion are part of the site plan as well, the Journal News reported. The old clubhouse has been torn down, and a temporary structure, along with an outdoor patio and pavilion, is in place to service members.
The partners are hoping to break ground on 73 condo units in the spring of 2022, the Journal News reported, but some issues still need to be resolved to gain final approval, starting with the club’s plan to provide an on-site water supply.
“We’d like to have 250 to 300 members when all is said and done,” Mendell said.
And the focus on how to attract those members will be to position The Summit as “a leisure destination right in the back yard,” of densely populated Westchester County, Schiavone added.
“Golf has benefitted from the pandemic, which forced people to look at leisure time differently,” he told the Journal News. “This is a leisure destination right in the back yard. Westchester [County] has some of the best golf courses in the world, but there’s a little bit of stuffiness that comes with that.
“Some people like those traditions,” Schiavone added. “We’re going to be a little more casual, a little more hip. That’s part of carving out a niche in a saturated market.”
In an interview with the Westchester Business Journal, Mendell, who has been involved in real estate development, construction and banking for about 30 years, said that he had his eye on the Brynwood property for a long time and had a vision from the beginning to seek a rezoning so that residences could be built.
“It’s a very nice lifestyle. It’s successful in many other places in the United States—Florida, Texas, Arizona, California,” he said about living in a golf course residence.
“[At] most of the clubs in Westchester [County], you have great golf facilities and beautiful old clubhouses and certainly great golf courses, but they don’t have residences,” he added. “So you can’t live at your country club, with rare exceptions.
“It was my vision from the very beginning to create a residential country club community and do it at a really nice level,” Mendell told the Business Journal. “There will be six buildings with 12 or 13 units in a building. Every apartment will have what I call the ‘ocean view’ looking over the golf course with great sunsets.
“Units will be large so that when you move out of your house in the area you don’t feel like you’re downsizing and moving into a small two-bedroom apartment,” he added. “You can downsize, but upscale your lifestyle.”
When also interviewed by the Business Journal, Schiavone said “We’re going to be more affordable than almost any other private club in the Westchester market and I think there’s a real demand for what we’re going to be offering. Things have changed in this industry and COVID has been one of the reasons. But you have a lot of younger people, a lot of families reassessing how they should spend their leisure time and a lot of them are picking the country club lifestyle.”
People are looking for local leisure activities rather than dealing with issues involved in vacation travel, Schiavone added.
“When you think about getting to an airport and rental cars and hotel rooms and all the things that people have become concerned about vis-a-vis health and hygiene, people are going to say, ‘Hey, for the cost of a family vacation to Disney World I can pretty much pay for a whole year of leisure time at a country club where there are so many things to do and it’s healthy and fun and safe,” he said.