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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Facing declining membership numbers like most private clubs across the U.S., Salem’s Hidden Valley Country Club has engaged in a partnership deal with Dallas-based Club Corps of America.
The agreement allows Hidden Valley members — for an extra monthly fee of $50 — to play two free rounds of golf and enjoy two free meals per month at any of Club Corps’ 150 clubs across the nation and abroad. The list is topped by such clubs as Firestone (Akron, Ohio), Mission Hills (Rancho Mirage, Calif.) and the Metropolitan Club (Chicago).
“We’re all facing this declining golf,” Hidden Valley general manager Bob Babyok said. “We’ve lost over a million golfers [across the country] in the past 10 years so we’re all kinda suffering. So we figured this is basically a way to cooperate to graduate.
“We have 120 members involved in the program and it’s growing steadily. It offers our members another bell and whistle, another reason to belong. It opens up so many opportunties across the country for our members to play golf.”
It’s a win-win proposition for all the clubs under the Club Corps’ umbrella, Babyok said.
“It also favors these other places who normally wouldn’t get the business because Club Corps reimburses them. If our members go to play golf there, Club Corps pays that club what it would have gotten had we been pure pedestrians.”
Besides golf, the alignment with Club Corps allows Hidden Valley members to use the national partner’s concierge service to purchase tickets for concerts, athletic events and cruises.
“Say you want to go to the opera at Kennedy Center in D.C.? Well, you can get those tickets through this great concierge service,” Babyok noted.
Roanoke Country Club recently struck a similar deal with McConnell Golf of Raleigh, N.C., that allows its members special playing privileges at eight premier clubs in the Carolinas.
Waterfront eyeing expansion
The Willard Companies, owners of The Waterfront Country Club in Moneta, has announced plans for future club expansion in conjunction with a new membership
The projected $1.4 million renovation will include a new swimming pool that will be closer in proximity to the clubhouse and construction of a new state-of-the-art fitness center and recreational area for members. A new short-game area also is included in the plans. The blueprint calls for four Pickle Ball courts, a combination tennis/ping pong-like game that’s become a huge phenomenon at private clubs in Florida, and two tennis courts.
Willard Companies vice president Ron Willard II said the time frame for the groundbreaking and construction start on the renovation project hinge on membership growth. The company recently started a new membership campaign offering prospective members lower initiation fees with financing options, reduced social dues structure and special pricing for under-40 classifications. The goal is to rebound to the club’s pre-recession membership count of around 400 members.
“The main thing was realizing that the whole country club, private-club industry has been turned upside down since the recession hit back in 2006 or whereabouts,” he said. “I think most have experienced a 20 to 30 percent drop [in membership] and many clubs have closed.
“I think everybody has taken a little bit of a hit so we recognize for us to get in the position to compete in the future that we need some changes ... some capital improvements to the club. The private clubs that are going to survive in the decades to come must change and adapt to the market demands. We took a pretty good hit and we’re trying to find our way back.”
Is he confident the club’s ongoing membership drive can surge the head count back to 400?
“I think for us a lot of our tie-in with our growth ties into real estate and we’re starting to see things starting to turn around in the real estate market,’’ he said. “It’s been a long time coming. I think usually we kinda ride with the real estate market and a lot of the feeder markets in Charlotte [N.C.] and northern Virginia are really active right now and that feeds our buyers into the lake markets.
“All we want to do is get back to where we were before the recession hit and then we can move forward with this program.”
Support The First Tee
Those who plan on heading to the July 4-7 Greenbrier Classic can help The First Tee of Roanoke Valley by buying their weekly badges through the Roanoke chapter.
Call Jennifer Blackwood at (540) 563-1833 to make purchases via phone. The organization that teaches kids the game and life values will receive 30 percent of the ticket revenue from those who order from Blackwood or order from the Web site — www.greenbriershopping.com/20baforch.html. When completing your purchase online, simply select The First Tee of Roanoke Valley from the list of the event’s participating charities.
Aerosmith, the best-selling American rock ‘n’ roll band of all time, with more than 150 million albums sold worldwide, is the latest addition to The Greenbrier Classic’s concert lineup. Lead singer Steven Tyler and his group will perform on Saturday, July 6 at the State Fair of West Virginia amphitheater in Fairlea. Country music superstar Kenny Chesney also will appear in concert July 4. Fans buying now-reduced $159 tournament badges will be admitted free to the concerts. ... Longwood junior Dylan Jensen of Martinsville won the individual title of the Manor Intercollegiate tournament last Friday and Saturday. It marked the second straight triumph in the event for Jensen, whose 54-hole total of 2-under 214 led the Lancers to third place in the 10-team event held at Farmville’s Manor Resort Golf Club.
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