Chartwell Golf & Country Club has been named as a Distinguished Club of America recipient within the country club category. The distinction is the only merit-based program that recognizes private country clubs for outstanding delivery of exceptional member experience. Chartwell is one of 94 country clubs in the country recognized with this special distinction. Within Maryland, Chartwell currently shares this honor with only one other club, Bethesda Country Club.
To become a Distinguished Club of America, a club must be nominated by both peers and members before a site visit is scheduled. Once nominated by multiple peers and members, a panelist of industry experts is scheduled to visit the club, rating the club on its ability to consistently deliver exceptional member experiences. The panelist interviews members and management alike, probing for specific information, enabling them to calculate their score. Chartwell was fortunate to receive a score good enough to be invited into the Distinguished Clubs of America.
Once a club is named a Distinguished Club of America, it must go through extensive annual reviews to ensure that it upholds the standards representing its prior score and the distinction. While the panel scoring is based on intangible member experiences, it often helps when clubs also offer a first-class variety of club amenities.
Chartwell has been busy adding to its list of first-class amenities; last year, the club invested over $3 million in club amenities including a golf course renovation, clubhouse refreshing, pool upgrades, and an addition of a pickleball court. All four of these projects were done within seven months beginning January of this year.
Chartwell’s Ed Ault designed golf course had provided enjoyment for nearly six decades as the course design featured an enjoyable layout utilizing the natural undulating terrain, variety of sand bunkers, and thick rough surrounding and protecting the greens. In 2016, Chartwell commissioned Andrew Green, golf course architect, to develop a comprehensive plan for enhancing the course features while properly positioning it for future years to come. The completed plan included these three major objectives: create a special golf experience that enhances the Chesapeake countryside, review original course features creating solutions for any area in need, and preserve the course for decades to come.
Green’s plan was fully achieved as greens were enlarged, green surrounds modernized, bunkers reshaped and relocated, tee boxes were both added and repositioned, fairways were re-grassed and contoured, and holes were realigned for optimum routing. Chartwell’s membership course pride has reached an all-time high resulting in increased rounds played and improved course survey scores.
The second improved amenity was the member’s main dining room. Because the room’s design and décor dated back to the ‘80s, the membership felt it was time to investigate a potential refreshing. Chartwell enlisted Chambers USA Design, the nation’s largest award-winning planning and design firm specializing in private clubs, for its clubhouse design expertise. During the planning phase, the project was broken into two phases addressing both the casual bar grill room plus the less casual dining room. The larger of the rooms, the grill room, was refreshed first and the dining room is scheduled for January 2020. The design enhancements included a variety of flooring and seating options. Flooring adjacent to the bar was designed with hardwood while the seating area away from the bar was carpeted. The design also removed a prior room defining dividing wall replacing it with double-sided banquette seating, creating a vast variety of seating options from high-top tables, square four-top tables, round six-top tables, and the modern banquette seating option. Members now have more seating options with a refreshed modern décor. This room refreshing combined with an expanded menu has already positively impacted member dining volume by 20%. Chartwell members are now eagerly awaiting the refreshing of the dining room, which will feature a prominent wine locker wall along with banquette seating options.
The third amenity upgrade included the club’s aquatic center with renovated locker rooms plus the installation of a commercial-grade kitchen. These two upgrades also have positively impacted member experiences as the locker room feature new facilities, addition of climate control environment, and multiple private changing rooms and shower stalls. The kitchen upgrade allowed the club to offer a larger diverse menu including all of the typical children and adult favorites. Prior to the kitchen upgrade, the menu could feature only a limited variety of pre-made sandwiches and salads. The expanded menu was rolled out on Memorial Day and has been a popular member attraction all summer long.
The fourth amenity enhancement at Chartwell this year was the addition of a hard-surfaced pickleball court. Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines tennis, badminton, and table tennis, and that originated in 1965 as a children’s backyard game. Pickleball is currently the fastest-growing racquet sport as it attracts interest from all athletic sectors, not just the tennis players. This social, yet competitive, game is a perfect for country clubs as it takes 20 minutes to complete a game and allows for social interaction throughout. It is a racquet sport which welcomes all ages from children to seniors.
With the addition of the four most recent amenity improvements partnered with the Chartwell staff’s mission to exceed member expectations upon every encounter, Chartwell’s chances for continual distinction increases.