Golf’s Resurgence Results in New Golf and Country Club Projects

Years after many golf and country clubs closed and sold their property to home builders, golf has made an incredible comeback! So have golf and country club projects.

Golf’s rise in popularity

Out of the chaos of COVID, came a resurgence of outdoor activities. People started spending time on the golf course as a way to escape the indoors and socialize while still distancing. Arguably, one could even say golf became the official sport of social distancing.

Fast-forward two years and golf membership is surging. Some clubs have more than doubled their membership, resulting in the need to expand and improve facilities. More club members also means, more money to put toward projects.

Demand for new amenities

Something else has changed. During the pandemic, members were traveling less. Vacations were canceled. They were spending more time at the club with their families, putting a critical eye on the amenities offered. As a result, they want to see a more family-friendly environment, challenging clubs to reinvent themselves and appeal to a different audience.

The world continues to evolve. There have been significant technological advances in golf simulators for lessons and training. Racquet sports like paddleball, padel, and pickleball have also surged in popularity. Pool facilities are becoming outdated. Families are looking for casual, social areas to grab a meal, outside the formal dining rooms of traditional country clubs. All of this has necessitated that clubs today offer a wider variety of amenities to appeal to members.

How clubs are changing with the times

At Nave Newell, we are proud to have built trusted relationships with local clubs, facilities managers, and golf course superintendents. We are currently working on multiple golf course and country club projects throughout the Philadelphia suburbs.

We’re seeing a variety of projects, but all have one thing in common – a goal to provide a better member experience. They include:

  • Golf course renovations
  • Pool improvements
  • New amenities
    • Open-air pavilions and bar seating
    • Casual outdoor dining with expanded menus and seating areas
    • Fire pits
  • Clubhouse renovations
  • Formal reception upgrades
    • Expanded kitchens
    • Introduction of casual dining; offering inviting space to members who want to hang out with friends and watch sports on TV
    • Small cafes to drop in on the way to work
  • New and improved racquet courts
  • Capital improvements
    • Enhance their ‘gateway’
    • Simplify parking and pedestrian connectivity
    • Drainage improvements and streambank restorations

Will golf’s popularity hold up?

The National Golf Federation recently reported that, “golf course closings are down 53 percent from its peak two years ago.”

In the Philadelphia suburbs, people have an abundance of clubs to join, yet they are finding much greater competition for membership due to the popularity surge. This has caused an opportunity that clubs haven’t seen in generations – an extremely strong membership and financial base to finally invest in much needed capital improvements – to re-imagine for the next generation.

However, it is still a very competitive environment. Most places have no choice but to continue to re-evaluate what they offer and develop creative strategies to engage both new and existing members. You have to invest to thrive!

Let’s look at how some local clubs re-imagining their facilities.

Local golf and country club projects

Waynesborough Country Club, Course Restoration

Easttown Township, Chester County, PA

Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli, PA, is a private, nationally recognized club nestled on 200 acres in beautiful Chester County. Established in 1965, it is a family-oriented club with a mission to provide premier facilities and dynamic amenities that are continuously improved for member enjoyment.

Waynesborough Country Club
Waynesborough Country Club

Nave Newell is currently working with them on a course restoration project. The project includes:

  • Reconstruction/regrading of tee boxes and bunkers
  • Minor expansions to greens
  • New bentgrass areas
  • Minimal drainage and adjustments to fairway grassing lines
  • Stream relocations

For this project, our surveyors used the drone to fly the practice tee area for contours and mapping that were the basis for our civil design.

Approvals have been secured and construction started in January 2022.

Prior to this project, we helped the club with a $5M revamp to their pool area, clubhouse, and surrounding social spaces. The new pool area (pictured below) opened for the Summer 2020.

Llanerch Country Club, Outdoor Amenities

Haverford Township, Delaware County, PA

With a warm and welcoming family atmosphere, Llanerch Country Club offers members a world-class 129 acre golf course and extensive practice facilities. Members will also enjoy seven tennis courts, a swim club with a spacious area for members to relax and a beautiful clubhouse for dining, weddings, showers and other social events.

Nave Newell recently worked with the Club and their architect on outdoor patio enhancements. The project includes a dining pavilion, outdoor bar, and fire pits, to enhance amenity offerings for members. We surveyed the existing features. Our civil engineers completed a utility investigation and prepared site plan design, stormwater management and a grading permit plan. New retaining walls, planters, and sidewalks tie into existing facilities, which Nave Newell worked on back in the early 2010’s. Construction of the outdoor pavilions was completed in 2022.

Union League Liberty Hill, Master Plan Development

Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, PA

Union League Liberty Hill is an expansive property offering a variety of amenities. The Club features an 18-hole Gary Player designed golf course that sprawls across the 311-acre grounds. A modern design features large fairways and greens with scenic views and beautiful water features near the clubhouse.

Union League Liberty Hill

This project is a great example of rebranding facilities to offer more experiences for members. When the Union League purchased the CHUBB Hotel & Conference Center and The ACE Club in Lafayette Hill, they announced they’d explore an aquatic center (indoor/outdoor pools, water park, fast-casual restaurant), an equestrian center with a stable, racquet sports (tennis, paddleball, pickleball), and a spa.

So far, changes are being proposed to the gatehouse, a restaurant, signage, and cosmetic changes to the lobby and lodge.

The Union League has traditionally provided businessmen with facilities to golf, enjoy formal meals, and sip cocktails while doing business. Ten to twenty years ago, no one would have pictured a successful club being more family-focused. They are one of many clubs making the shift from formal dining rooms to more family-friendly, casual eating areas.

30 years of golf and country club projects

For 30 years, Nave Newell has been providing surveys, assessments, master planning, and land development services for golf courses and country clubs throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Check out more projects in our portfolio or contact us to talk about your next project.

Let us help you get started!

“My golf and country club projects require the difficult task of managing multiple stakeholders and constant programming changes. I can always rely on Nave Newell to stay a step ahead of our needs. They understand the critical path to obtain approvals and they proactively communicate options to the team through weekly updates. Their leaders are always available and have the experience and professionalism to deal with the intricacies of the land development process that are integral to the success of many projects.”

Carter M. Young
Construction Consultant / Owners Representative

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