GLEN RIDGE -- One of the oldest country clubs in New Jersey is getting an upgrade that managers say will strike a balance between the club's history, and the changing country club landscape.
The Glen Ridge Country Club's 40,000 square foot clubhouse still retains some of the original structure from when it was built in 1894, according to Jim Kirkos, the club's president.
"Over the years, we have upgraded, but not in a long-term, strategic way," Kirkos said.
"We want to preserve (the club's) history, but we also need to modernize for our members."
After putting together a master plan for the design of the club - which includes an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, fitness center, and pool facilities - the membership broke ground Nov. 8 on an $11 million renovation project set to start next month.
Glen Ridge managers and members say the club is bucking a national decline in country club memberships - a trend across the country that they say is forcing many clubs to close their doors. Glen Ridge, Kirkos said, has survived by adapting to the country-clubber of today, who is interested in more diversified offerings. Adding in family-based activities outside of golf, and a casual dining options, he said, has appealed to the club's younger members.
It currently has more than 500 members, and expects that number to go up when renovations are complete.
"The club really feels like an extension of your home," Debra Lienhardt, who joined the club with her husband and two daughters when they moved to Glen Ridge in 2010, said in a phone interview.
"We've made friends and we use all of the facilities...(the board) made it affordable and enjoyable for families."
Still, members say the overhaul, which will take place throughout all of 2016 and include an update of its two main buildings and the construction of a new pro shop, is necessary.
Steve Palm, whose family of five joined 10 years ago, said they use most of the aspects of the club - his three kids are on the swim team, he and his wife play tennis, and he and his son play golf. The upgrade, he said, will allow them to do more, like hold larger events at the club's banquet hall, but won't lose the property's historic charm.
"Golfers are very thoughtful to their history," Palm said.
"They want to maintain the quality and the mission of the (club's) founders and the members who came before them."
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