If the term “country club” conjures up a quaint image of men hob-knobbing on the golf course before retiring to sip scotch and seal deals, Old Lyme Country Club would like you to take a fresh look at their facility and amenities.
The OLCC may share the term “country club” with others, but the similarity ends there.
For starters, said OLCC Vice President Chris Cathcart, “We’re not just a golf course.”
Cathcart said the club installed a pool about 10 years ago, a feature that has proven popular among members for many reasons. Especially this one: “It’s heated, which is a little different than going into Long Island Sound in June and July,” he said. The pool’s terrace is a favorite spot among members for relaxing, meeting friends and holding parties and other get-togethers.
OLCC also builds social and seasonal activities around a family schedule. That includes pool parties, Easter egg hunts, holiday parties, and summer camps.
In addition to golf, the club offers tennis, bocce, social activities and a restaurant. There’s a wading pool in addition to the standard-sized pool. The lineup of sports and activities features paddle tennis, which can be played year-round and private lessons and clinics for all skills levels. There’s also a book group and a chorus.
Like many businesses, the Old Lyme Country Club is actively recruiting newer and younger members. But today’s clubs can face the unique challenge of raising awareness about the kind of facility that’s traditionally attracted an older generation — retirees with disposable income and lots of free time.
OLCC has tackled that by emphasizing its year-round status, array of activities, and flexible payment plans.
“A huge hurdle is getting over the traditional country club stigma and letting people know that we’re a family organization,” said media strategist Rich Scierka, who is leading the club’s marketing efforts. “It’s a great place to raise a family. There are plenty of activities; there are other families, people your age and that your kids can interact with.”
“Once people join the club, they tend to stay,” Cathcart added.
Cathcart said the club currently has about 320 part-time and full-time members, with its optimum number being somewhere between 350 and 400.
OLCC membership categories include:
Full (or Regular) Membership: unlimited sporting privileges with no fees
House Membership: limited sporting privileges with fees
Social Membership: no sporting privileges, unlimited use of clubhouse
Associate Membership: Family or individual ages 31-40, full use of facilities
Junior Membership: Family or individual ages 18-30, full use of facilities
Members can pay their dues in a lump sum or opt for a monthly payment plan, another move enacted to attract a younger demographic.
There’s also a new trial membership program, in which members can join anytime and pay a monthly fee.
According to the OLCC website, interested members must be invited and sponsored by a club member to join, but can call the club for information if they don’t know someone.
With an eye toward millennials and those into their 40s, OLCC has tried to broaden its approach.
“We looked at updating our website and social media tools to become more attractive to people in terms of how they find us,” Scierka said. “Really, we’re just focusing on our content and our message and being genuine.”
A challenge, Scierka said, was to make sure the club was NOT advertising to the traditional demographic.
“We wanted to show people who we are and wanted to do that genuinely and in a way that they’d be able to find us and best understand us,” he said.
Scierka said that when families start to calculate the costs of putting kids in summer camp and doing other family activities together, it adds up fast.
“If you try to add all that up over the course of a year, you’re still way ahead by doing the country club type of approach,” he said.
“And you’re doing it together.”
For more information: oldlymecc.com or call the office at 860-434-1639.