“I have to disappoint you,” said Christian Anastasiadis. “We haven’t picked an architect yet.”
We were calling to get an update on the renovations at Providence Country Club, which was bought by McConnell Golf in early 2016. John McConnell, the CEO of the Raleigh-based private club group, had promised that the golf course would be redesigned by an architect with a recognizable name.
“There are three (McConnell) has in mind,” said Anastasiadis, who is the chief operating officer at McConnell Golf, without revealing any names. “Two of the three have been to the facility and the third has not yet visited.”
What Anastasiadis could tell us is that $1.3 million of renovations to the clubhouse are about to be completed. The fitness center and golf shop locations were reversed and as a result, the fitness center doubled in size and the golf shop has been completely renovated. Private trainers are available and there is a playhouse activity center for children and teens. “It has truly become a family center,” Anastasiadis said.
McConnell Golf now owns 12 private clubs in the Carolinas and Tennessee and if you’re a member of one, you are a member of all 12. Anastasiadis suggests there is a rejuvenation of interest in private clubs, particularly among younger people.
“Millennials love private clubs,” he said. “They love clubs, period. They want to be a part of a community, to be part of a group. The private club industry has an opportunity to capture that.
“We are building clubs of the future and we have to create the culture from the inside out. When clubs make changes, very few people outside the board members and staff members know why they are making those changes. We are telling people why we are there. We believe in being involved in the community.
“When you tell them why, you will create such enthusiasm they want to be part of it. You will attract people who believe what you believe.”
Anastasiadis says there is a significant uptick in membership at Providence Country Club for all those reasons.
“You can’t just tell people you have a great golf course,” he says. “That’s not enough. There are a lot of great golf courses. And attracting people to golf has to change. We need six-hole loops or three-hole loops so that people can come after work and play a few holes.
“If you build sustainable golf courses, this is a message that will start to impress.”