Old Lyme — One private, low-key, full-service country club has made balancing family, friendships, and sports a priority for generations.
The club on the hill with an unassuming sign is simply marked Old Lyme Country Club (OLCC), and one word that says it all: “Welcome.” Its history, nestled on 100 rolling acres of the former Evelyn McCurdy estate, is marked by resilience.
American Impressionists may have made Old Lyme famous for its landscapes over the last century, but the town has many intertwined traditions. OLCC members have maintained a high quality, physically active-based lifestyle at the club since 1916, through thick and thin.
The club has weathered both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, a devastating fire that destroyed the original club house in 1960, and most recently, the financial recession of 2008.
But the OLCC community has not just survived challenges through the years — it’s thrived. Beginning from a 9-hole course, today the expansive grounds include a pool with a hilltop terrace and beautiful views; paddle tennis with lights for evening play and heated grounds for extended season play; and four Har-Tru clay tennis courts and a full complement of lessons overseen by tennis pro Tom Cutone. The USGA course is as popular as ever, with women’s, men’s and juniors’ associations and veteran golf pro Rob Barbeau offering instruction. Swimming lessons for all ages and abilities are offered as well as competitive swimming, and there is a smaller kiddie pool for young children.
About 240 children ages 8 to 20 take active part in a club of about 330 member families and individuals. OLCC facilities and services can accomodate as many as 500.
The club’s private clubhouse and facilities are available for public rental for special occasion life events. Members also enjoy inviting friends as guests for lunch, dinner, or a round of golf or tennis. While membership is by invitation only, the club warmly welcomes inquiries from those who may be new to the area or are unknown to current members. Cocktail parties are periodically held so prospective members get acquainted with the club and its community.
Membership rates are competitive, and finance the range of amenities and special events. Dancing and balls, which thrived in the 1980s and 1990s, have given way to cabaret themed nights, poolside parties, holiday brunches and barbecues with fireworks today, according to Chris Cathcart, OLCC Membership Governor.
A retired banker, Cathcart is a second-generation club member and avid golfer. Cathcart describes the club as his second home — as do many members — it is where he learned to play golf at age 12. Cathcart is there daily, offering support and overseeing services executed by newly appointed General Manager Mike Iwanicki.
Membership provides a fun, centralized place where families can be active together, but pursue their own independent, specific interests ranging from athletics to bridge clubs, wine tasting, art openings, and dining. There is a special short-term prorated membership which can include a summer program for children that teaches golf, tennis, and swimming skills and provides a daily lunch over four weeks. Staff say that the opportunity to balance work with active family, friendships, and sports activities in one place is what appeals to members.
“We are family oriented and always looking for new families to join,” said Cathcart.
Writer Merja Lehtinen contributed to this story.
Old Lyme Country Club is located at 40 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme. Visit oldlymecc.com or call 860-434-1639 for more information.