By Bill Sterling
Monika Bridgforth recently joined the Eastern Shore Yacht and Country Club as its general manager, bringing to the position a background well suited to the needs of the club.
Bridgforth is a graduate of Wellesley College and has a Masters of Business Administration from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, communication, marketing, budgeting, fundraising and program development, with a focus on both building relationships and getting results.
Bridgforth spent the past six and half years as museum director at the Barrier Islands Center and said she learned valuable lessons there she hopes to incorporate into her new position. “Everyone there had a job to do and was always busy with lots of details to handle, but when a visitor walked through the front door, that was your top priority,” she noted. “We want the club to be an accepting and welcoming place to everyone. I also learned there will be challenges but just do your very best and have fun.”
Bridgforth said it would be a mistake to compare the Eastern Shore Yacht and Country Club to a fancy city club. “This club should feel like the Eastern Shore, laid back, and that doesn’t mean sloppy, but it should feel comfortable to all.”
Bridgforth added, “I have spent the first two months here just listening to members and trying to understand what they want the club to be. I don’t see my job as changing the club, but rather to enhance the value we have and communicate our brand to the public.”
Bridgforth said the board of directors recently approved new membership rates that compare favorably to fees two decades ago in hopes of luring new members to the club, particularly younger members who will sustain the club into the next generation.
Associate members will pay as little as $60 a month for an individual ($75 for a family) to use the clubhouse, dining area, and pool, with fees for tennis, limited golf and fitness. Dues for Social members are $112 a month for an individual ($140 for a family) and include tennis, fitness, clubhouse billing privileges, including all social activities, and limited golf privileges at a discounted fee.
Full and Premium members pay higher rates, but receive greater benefits with unlimited golf and no green fees. There is no initiation fee, or food and beverage minimum, with any level of membership.
Bridgforth said a special Summer Membership program offered last year was hugely popular and brought approximately 150 new members to the club. In prior years, the club also offered Summer-Only memberships. However, those special and seasonal plans have been discontinued because the Associate Membership plan offers the same benefits year-round for only a marginal increase.
Bridgforth said the club will always take care of its core members who have supported the club so well — the last two years without a clubhouse — but there might be ways to appeal to new members with activities that promote family fun and togetherness in a gorgeous setting. “I know the younger generation doesn’t play golf as much, with the demands on their time, but you go to a Top Golf facility and see hundreds of young people and families enjoying golf. There may be fun activities at non-peak times on the golf course we can hold that would appeal to families.”