Holding Court!

by Matt McConnell

 Mar 17, 2018 at 12:47 AM

Game, set, dinner!

Exhibition matches have long been a celebrated occasion across the tennis facilities of McConnell Golf; however starting last year, a new twist was added — members can enjoy great food, service, and entertainment right on the court.

“What can be better than dining under the stars while watching local collegiate and professional tennis players compete?” asks Kyle Thortsen, director of tennis operations. “These Dining on the Courts events are a night for the entire family to enjoy.”

In Charlotte, members said “Hola!” to a Mexican-themed menu and matches from local tennis pros.

One of the most exciting matches was the Battle of the Sexes. Former Director of Tennis Eric Winn and current Head Tennis Pro Josh Oxendine represented the men. The women’s team included former Director of Junior Tennis Ana Ruzir and camp counselor Morgan Ingram, who currently plays at UNC-Asheville. The women put up a good fight, but the men prevailed 6-3.

“My husband and I had such a great time at Dining on the Courts,” says member Claire Daniels. “The food was fabulous, and watching the pros play was absolutely a highlight. This was a new, great way to enjoy the club.”

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Adding Character to the Course

by Brad King

 Mar 13, 2018 at 9:18 PM


The crowd in Providence Country Club’s Carolina Ballroom in early January was standing room only for a presentation of the upcoming golf course renovation by architect Kris Spence, projected to re-open this fall.


The Wow Factor

McConnell Golf purchased Providence in early 2016 and immediately announced it would spend the next few years not only renovating the golf course, but also providing numerous other substantial improvements around the club.

The fun and playable golf course — originally designed by Dan Maples and tweaked in 2006 by Mike Gleason — sits on a relatively flat piece of property. While it has “good bones,” according to Director of Golf Kevin Reardon, there was “not a ton of character” to the layout. To illustrate, Reardon said members would sometimes hit the same club on all five of the course’s par-3 holes.

“The golf course needed more personality,” says Providence General Manager Howard Murphy. Spence’s comprehensive renovation project at Providence is focused on bunkers, new and expanded irrigation for better course conditioning, transitioning the green complexes to Champion Bermuda grass, along with fashioning new, dramatic views from the fairways.

“We’ll be able to keep the golf course much more consistently well-maintained,” says McConnell Golf VP of Agronomy Michael Shoun. “It’s a much-needed project that will help separate Providence from some of the other facilities in that area.”

Says McConnell Golf Founder and CEO John McConnell: “Spence has an outstanding reputation for providing quality work. He is a visionary in implementing new features and modernization when he updates an existing course.”

During his January presentation, Spence says the Providence golf holes were lacking “individual character.”

“Bunkers do not project angles and have poor visibility,” he says. “They’ll benefit from more variety and definition on and around the green complexes, while tree removal is needed for better sight lines and shade removal.”

Spence, who works dually as the architect for the project as well as construction manager, told the audience he plans to create a fun and interesting golf course, full of variety and added drama, through the introduction of his classic design principles.

“We’ll create interest and variety on green surfaces with subtle, twist-and-turn contours and the occasional plateau, shelf, swale, small knob or rolling undulation feeding in from the edges,” says Spence. “I’m very excited about it. We’re going to add a nice ‘wow’ factor to the golf course.” Spence says that unlike most of his restoration projects, Providence allows him to be more creative and diverse in the design of the bunkers in particular.

“I’ve done similar bunkering with a higher sand face versus the Ross grass faces most are accustomed to seeing me do,” he says. “While Providence won’t be fashioned in the look of Ross, I’ll certainly incorporate many of his design philosophies, as well as those by other golden-age designers such as A.W. Tillinghast.”

“Providence will have a unique style and strategy all of its own. The last thing we want is a course with multiple design styles. The overriding change the members will notice is the increased lateral movement of the holes around and between the bunker, and a stronger, more noticeable strategy to the course. Both bunkers and greens will be set with more angles that correlate strategically with one another. I’ll also raise the bunkers above the flat fairway grades to better speak to the players’ thought process when choosing a line of play.”


Ready for a Change

A neighborhood club with a younger membership, Providence has earned a reputation as one of the Queen City’s premier family country clubs. Providence’s extensive amenities include 14 tennis courts and state-of-the-art aquatic facilities with three pools, as well as a newly constructed outdoor bar and dining area with a fire pit.

With 800 families strong, Providence’s avid golfing membership played more than 28,000 rounds last year.

“Our course has always been fun to play,” says Providence member Ron Kirkpatrick, who has won the club championship eight times. “The greens are generally pretty large without a tremendous amount of undulation, although there are a couple of exceptions. We aren’t blessed with a lot of elevation change on the site, so texture plays a key role from a visual standpoint.”

Though the course will be closed until fall, Providence members can rest assured that their game won’t be affected. In addition to reciprocal access to 11 McConnell Golf sister properties, reciprocity has been established with 14 neighboring Charlotte clubs. It’s a great excuse to make the hour drive to Old North State Club, or retreat to the seclusion of Musgrove Mill near Clinton, S.C. With both offering on-site lodging, they’re a quick and easy road trip any time of year.

“Having the other McConnell courses that we can play is a tremendous addition for our member-ship,” says Providence member Adam Markin, who won the club championship in 2015 and 2016, as well as the senior club championship in 2016. “We have the benefit of other top-class McConnell courses within a 90-minute drive as we carry out the course renovation.”


Upgrades Abound

Meanwhile, renovation work is also underway on the clubhouse. The club’s Culbertson Dining Room and Turnberry Lounge are being fully updated with new furnishings. In addition, there will be a new front entrance to the restaurant.

In the past two years, McConnell Golf has completed $1.3 million of renovation work on the Providence clubhouse — including an enlarged Fitness Center, renovated Golf Shop, a new bag-drop location and cart staging area, while the entire clubhouse back lawn received a major land -scaping makeover. Lastly, McConnell Golf added an all-new “Providence Playhouse” kids’ activity center.

With the golf course renovation and clubhouse upgrade, McConnell Golf will have invested more than $5 million in capital improvements to enhance the Providence membership experience.

Murphy says the relationship with McConnell Golf has been an ideal fit for Providence.

“It’s been phenomenal,” he says. “Members and staff have embraced it and Providence is flourishing. 2017 was our biggest year ever, not only in membership, but also in every single operating department. Providence was already a good club, but we are very excited about the future and what we’re building here. This is something very special.”



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Wellness Beyond The Workout

by Natalie Clemens

 Dec 02, 2017 at 3:49 PM

There's no doubt that taking the proactive, “apple-a-day” approach to healthy living has gained measurable traction over recent years. But beyond its lighter menus and modern fitness offerings, McConnell Golf is taking further steps in its commitment to wellness. So, what’s next? Massage therapy and physical therapy.

McConnell Golf recently introduced Concierge Physical Therapists to its clubs. Their network of therapists is based on the belief that clients need more than what most high-volume physical therapy clinics can offer.

According to Bryan Williams, found- er of CPT: “I believe in one-on-one, hour-long appointments with a physical therapist specializing in manual techniques complemented with neuromuscular re-education and exercise.”

Concierge Physical Therapists has grown substantially throughout the mid-Atlantic area and now serves eight private clubs, including TPC Wakefield Plantation and Providence Country Club, with plans to add the service to Sedgefield Country Club, Country Club of Asheville, and Old North State Club soon.

“Club members benefit from several aspects of our service, including the convenience of receiving physical therapy at their club’s fitness center,” says Williams. “Members get high-level service due to our one-on-one intensive approach.”

All of CPT’s therapists hold doctoral degrees or have 20-plus years of experience working with golfers, tennis players, and non-athletes.

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Leaps and Bounds

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Aug 24, 2017 at 7:03 PM

Providence Country Club unveils a new fitness facility.

When Providence Country Club opened its brand new and improved fitness center this past April, the changes were drastic.

“We used to be in the basement,” laughs Nanette Nelmes, a wellness coach and personal trainer who has worked at Providence for 11 years. “Now, it’s like I have a whole new job!”

As part of the renovation, the old gym and golf pro shop switched locations. The new 3,400-square-foot fitness complex nearly doubled in size and added a cardio room, weight room, and aerobics room. The renovation also traded out old equipment for all-new machines and added group exercise classes and child care.

"We now have state-of-the-art cardio equipment, including Intenza treadmills, recumbent bikes, Octane elliptical trainers, Life Fitness rowers, and stair climbers,” says Jason Vieira, a fitness professional and personal trainer at Providence. “We also added TRX Suspension Trainers, Life Fitness spin bikes, and a variety of Life Fitness loaded strength equipment.”

Before the renovation, the fitness center hosted a few group exercise classes each week. Now with the additional space, they’ve added morning and evening classes. The current class schedule includes offerings in TRX, spin, Zumba, interval training, yoga, and barre.

“We were very lucky to get the TRX equipment,” says Nelmes. “We even had to put in extra binding behind the wall to install the suspensions.”

For many Providence families, one of the most exciting additions to the fitness complex is a child care center. Providence Playhouse offers child care Monday – Friday mornings and Friday and Saturday evenings.

“We’ve never had child care before, so to now have this as an option, it helps our families tremendously,” says Nelmes. “Now, we’re tapping into a whole different market.”

As for the members?

“People absolutely love the space,” says Nelmes. “Wellness is a way of life for our members. Being mindful of health and wellness helps in every aspect of golf and tennis.”

Brenley Ogden has been working out in the Providence fitness center for more than 20 years. For her, the renovated complex has been a long time coming.

“It’s simply beautiful,” she says. “It’s easy to navigate and we all have so much more space. In the old center, we constantly bumped into equipment. If there was a class going on, there was no free space to lay down a mat. Now, we can do the workouts we want to do. Plus we have more choices with the new equipment.”

Ogden trains with Nelmes once a week and also participates in the Providence running group, which meets at the clubhouse and runs two-to-three- mile routes around the neighborhood. But when she’s on the treadmill in the new fitness center, she’s got just as good a view.

“The new center has beautiful windows overlooking the golf course,” she says. “Before the renovation, we couldn’t even see out of the windows. I enjoy working out here so much more.”

Shape Up this Summer 

On hot summer days, it’s tempting to blow off the gym and head straight for the pool. But an innovative summer fitness program at Providence aims to keep the whole family active — with plenty of time left over for Popsicles by the pool!

The club’s triathlon challenge uses the main components of a standard triathlon — two-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2- mile run — but allows participants to work out in the A/C over a period of 30 days. And while this challenge may be a Providence summer staple, you can adapt the program and do it at any club, anywhere.

“It’s for the entire family,” says Nelmes. “It’s a fun competition between brothers and sisters, parents and kids.”

Each participant receives a tracking chart and marks every mile completed. Depending on the weather (including that infamous NC summer humidity), triathletes can bike and run inside or out, and swim two miles (or 80 laps) in the club’s pool.

“Last year, our winner finished in only seven days,” says Nelmes. “They get really competitive with it, which is all part of the fun.”

Brenley Ogden is participating in the summer triathlon challenge and finds the program gets her motivated to exercise.

“It encourages me to get in the pool and get on the spin bike or outside on my road bike,” she says. “I had not ridden my bike in almost a year before signing up for this. But as soon as I got back out there, I realized how much I had missed it. This is a great motivator to do the things I haven’t done in a while.”


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Honoring Memories

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Aug 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM

For 21 years — and counting — Charlotte’s Providence Country Club has joined forces with Hospice of Union County.

When Providence hosted Hospice of Union County’s Griffin Motor Company Golf Tournament in May, old friends gathered, memories were shared, and record funds were raised. The event contributed $167,000 to Hospice of Union County, the largest amount ever raised for the organization.

Inspired by his personal experience with hospice care, Providence member Rob Kreisher started the event in 1996. From year one, the tournament has been held at Providence and has raised $1.8 million for the organization overall.

“Hospice took care of some of my family members, and I was so impressed with what they did,” he says. “They not only helped patients who were dying, but they taught the family about the process.”

One of the reasons this tournament is successful is because members are committed to playing it.

“We sell out every year,” says Kreisher. “People fly in from all over the country and most everyone comes back year after year. This is a charity that the players want to support. Before we present the check to Hospice of Union County, everyone’s always asking me, ‘What’s the check going to be?’ They under- stand the impact of what they’ve done.”

This year’s event began with a barbecue lunch overlooking the 18th hole, where family and friends purchased in-memory signs to honor loved ones.

“It’s a nice way to pay respect,” says Susanna Trotter, corporate communications associate for Carolinas HealthCare System.

Before the first tee-off, a bagpiper played two verses of “Amazing Grace,” followed by a balloon release on the back of the 18th green.

After the round, a dinner reception and silent auction capped the day. Items for bid included a football signed by Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly as well as Lilly Pulitzer and Tory Burch items.

But the tournament is more than just a round of golf and an evening with friends.

“Every year, families tell us how much they enjoy the day, and they’re so glad to be a part of it,” says Trotter. “Tears are shed as everyone reminisces. They appreciate all that is done to raise funds because hospice helped their loved ones at the end of their lives. They appreciate that this keeps happening, and they’re given the chance to honor those special memories.”

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Straight from the Source

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Aug 24, 2017 at 6:55 PM

Part of “walking the walk” when it comes to building clubs of the future is seizing opportunities that benefit the planet, local economies, and member taste buds. We spoke with Jason Neal, Executive Chef at Providence Country Club in Charlotte, on how — and why — he sources local.

In his first year in the kitchen at Providence, Neal turned the focus to sourcing more ingredients locally. “I want to know where things come from,” he says. “I want to have the servers educated about the ingredients and know where they’re coming from, too.” While the menu at Providence changes every three months — “it’s a big overhaul,” says Neal — expect to find classic American dishes with a Mediterranean twist. “Clean, light flavors,” he says. “There’s some Spanish, Italian, and Middle Eastern influences.”

The Ingredients

Neal finds fresh produce and meats from Middle Ground Farm in nearby Monroe, NC.

“We use their living microgreens, which come into the kitchen still alive,” he says. “We cut them to order and use the greens, like basil and arugula, in our salads and garnishes.”

Middle Ground Farm also stocks the Providence kitchen with high-quality meats, from rabbit and turkey to quail and whole hog.

“I’ve been out to the farm and I’ve seen where these animals come from,” he says. “There’s a huge area where they can roam around. They’re not penned in. There are no hormones, no antibiotics, and they’re fed an all-natural diet. The pig is taken from slaughter to my doorstep on the same day. That’s as fresh as it gets.”

At the Table

The whole hog finds its way on to various club menus: Smoked Boston butts for a member event, cured and smoked hams for Easter, and racks of pork and pork belly dishes for other menus. The club hosted a wild game dinner last fall and served rabbit, and plans are in the works for an August dinner featuring local quail.

“I would love to use even more local- ly sourced products,” says Neal. “Our members are more conscious of where ingredients come from and what’s going into food. We have a lot of competition from restaurants around us, and we gladly accept the challenge to bring something new to the table. Sourcing local isn’t a trend. It’s here to stay.”

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Memorable Moments

by Jessie Ammons

 Dec 22, 2016 at 3:39 PM

For a stately ceremony, cherished anniversary, or intimate celebration, McConnell Golf members and outside guests partner with club staff to host unforgettable events.

With historic courses outside and traditional warmth inside, McConnell Golf clubhouses epitomize elegance and style. This was certainly true for Katie Calabro, who hosted her September 2016 wedding at Providence Country Club in Charlotte. “My husband and I had such a fantastic experience hosting our wedding at Providence Country Club,” Katie says. “Dorianne was such a pleasure to work with ... She truly helped us in every way possible and made the wedding planning experience enjoyable and stress free. As for our ceremony and reception, everything was gorgeous. It was everything we could have ever wanted! The club is the perfect spot for photos inside and out, and the whole staff is accommodating and friendly. The food was delicious and our guests had a fabulous time.”

Whether sticking close to home or venturing to a sister property, hosting a show-stopping event is fun and easy with the following accompaniments: 

  - Refined and comfortable seating options
  - Glassware, flatware, and tableware
  - Tables covered with classic club linen
  - Customizable menus for any meal and hors d’oeuvres
  - Bartender consultation and available drink menus
  - On-site coordination and day-of execution
  - Indoor and outdoor spaces with access to outside settings including verandas and pavilions

To learn more about weddings at Providence Country Club in Charlotte, please visit http://www.providenceccweddings.com/ 

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