By Bill Sterling
The long-awaited clubhouse of Eastern Shore Yacht and Country Club is nearing completion with a grand opening Friday, Sept. 18, and Saturday, Sept. 19. A ribbon cutting and members-only reception will be held Friday evening. On Saturday, a Clubhouse Community Open House will be held for the public from noon to 5 p.m. with activities and drawings for prizes. A member-guest golf tournament will tee off Saturday morning at 9:30.
The clubhouse replaces a facility destroyed by fire in December of 2017 and will include a members’ lounge, a larger bar area with casual dining, a separate and more formal dining area, a card room, a kids’ zone with high-speed Internet where youth can play games and relax, and a covered porch and outside patio. It also will include a large catering kitchen near the pool to better serve that area and the Boathouse Grill.
Peter Turlington, ESY&CC president who also chaired the building committee for the new clubhouse, said this week, “The new clubhouse along with the new sports center are designed to offer members a variety of spaces to meet to socialize and be active with family and friends. These amenities provide a unique feel for the clubhouse as a comfortable shared community space. New options in membership levels encourage more families to enjoy everything the club has to offer, so I invite you to come out and discover the home of pleasant living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.”
The new clubhouse will complement the sports center that opened last fall and serves the tennis courts and swimming pool and houses the pro shop for the golf course. It also has men’s and women’s lockers and now will include a fitness room, a new feature at the club.
The clubhouse opening also caps a busy summer filled with myriad activities despite the pandemic limiting many social opportunities. Monika Bridgforth, general manager of the club since January, who pledged family fun as one of her primary goals, noted, “The key to our schedule has been our activities have been held outside, where it is easier to maintain social distancing and is safer for small groups to gather. With the COVID-19 limiting what we can do, I think it was important, especially for the youth who have not seen many of their school friends since March, to have some socialization. We have been able to do that in a safe setting.”
Just some of the activities, many of them new to the club, held this summer were Laser Tag, Top Golf, Water Aerobics, Tai Chi, Pilates, Couples Golf, Karaoke at the Pool, Youth Pool and Pizza Parties, Parents’ Night Out, Family Night at the Pool, Social Tennis, and Bayside Burn (body weight exercises). In addition, the club held two youth sports camps, a swim camp, and seven sessions of sailing camps. A new activity at the club will be a member-driven effort that culminated in the recent start of building pickle ball courts at the club.
New golf teaching pro Jay Williams is providing members and guests golf lessons but also working with a growing group of youth golfers.
The Boathouse Grill with Blake Johnson of the Island House and his crew handling all food arrangements for the pool and outside patio has been a hit with club members and guests as well. The kitchen equipment will be moved to the new clubhouse with Johnson’s staff continuing to serve all areas of the club.
The new clubhouse will allow the club to resume hosting banquets, receptions and other events. A wedding reception is already scheduled for the fall, noted Bridgforth.
“It’s been a busy summer,” said Bridgforth, “and we just signed our 300th household as members, which brings us just above our membership level prior to the fire.” Bridgforth noted that last spring the board 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.
“The fact that this club has maintained a loyal core of members over the last two plus years without a clubhouse is a testament to the strong and active leadership of our board and committees,” said Bridgforth.
“We invite everyone to come out Saturday, Sept. 19, and see what we have to offer at the club,” said Bridgforth, who noted COVID-19 regulations will be followed.