The big golf names roamed the grounds of the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge all last week. So did the kids.
The children’s activities and clinics that punctuated the Boeing Classic are telling. When it comes to children and families, the exclusive golf club atop the Ridge has been changing a lot since opening its doors in 1999.
As Shelly Inman, the club’s new manager, explains, it’s been steadily broadening its mission for a social, family-friendly approach.
More than 600 members attended the club’s recent kickoff dinner for the Boeing Classic. The Champions Tour event brings upwards of 80,000 people to the club during tournament week in August.
“It’s quite a compliment that we can be a part of what the Boeing Classic does,” and how it helps tournament beneficiary, the Benaroya Research Institute, says Inman. “The families love it, the players love it.”
From the economic perspective, the tournament gives exposure and sells memberships.
“It elevates the calibre of our course because we host a championship tour,” said Inman.
This place was designed with high-end, challenging golf in mind.
“I love the tradition of the private club. That’s at the heart of what we do,” said Inman. “But as far as accessibility, the fun factor, the vibrancy here, it’s very different from the traditional private club.”
The demographic here, she says, mirrors the Valley. It’s not just the elite, adds Inman.
Today, 683 families have membership in the club. Membership is divided into Social, Sport and Premier Golf memberships, about an even split today between the less-expensive social and sport members and the full golf membership. Ninety-three percent of all social members live in the 98065 zip code. Half of all golf members live in Snoqualmie.
Social membership allows members to dine and attend events at the club, and a weekly calendar is filled with plenty to do. Some events attract hundreds, and one of the biggest is still to come. The club’s Haunted Hollow event at Halloween transforms the club into a spooky attraction for families.
TPC owner Brightstar sold the club to Arcis Equity one month ago. The new owner, Inman said, is expected to invest in new amenities and improvements. It sent a letter to members a few weeks ago, inviting them to ask questions about the club and its direction. That’s a first, says social member Richard Burhans, a Valley artist who regularly shows his paintings here in tandem with club special events.
Now, with Arcis on board, Inman said improvements to the club’s layout will reflect that new direction toward something for everyone.
Inman, a North Bend resident who assumed the general manager’s job eight months ago, has been surprised by one factor of her job. It’s the requests for golf time.
Every year, the TPC donates hundreds of golf foursome passes as prizes for charity auctions the state over. Inman gets so many requests she can’t approve them all, but respects the causes that are close to members’ hearts.
“I spend more time each week fielding golf play donation requests than I ever thought this position would (have),” she said.
That giving back is a subtle but constant aspect of a club where golf pros help at the annual clinic for young residents of the Echo Glen Children’s Center and space is regularly donated to Mount Si High School boys and girls golfers—and swimmers.
The club hosts the TPC Tiger Sharks, an all-ages swim team of 111 youth who compete May through July. At the start of swim season, the club hosts a Polar Bear Plunge into the pool before turning on the heat.
There’s all the little things: The food drive for the Mount Si Food Bank, the 80-odd pounds of bacon for the Snoqualmie Turkey Trot 5K benefit breakfast, the extra turkey dinners that go to the police and fire department.
And the environment—ponds on the course are filled with water reclaimed from the city’s water treatment plant. The course is Audubon-certified, which calls for habitat and best practices to help wild birds.
The club is also a community center, in many respects. Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Ridge Residential Owners Association, Women in Business, the Rotary Club of Snoqualmie Valley all meet and hold events here, as do other groups, from holiday parties to fundraisers. Weddings, too, are a frequent occurence at the TPC.
Five years ago, when the recession began to be felt in the industry, TPC started adding.
“We didn’t add things that cost a lot of money—we didn’t fatten the staff or start giving away golf carts,” said Inman. “What we added was value.”
With a goal of doing more activities, programs, dining experiences and partnerships. Inman gives the example of the wine club, started in 2009. The club features wines every month, sells wine to members at near to its own cost, and hosts regular winemaker dinners. Then there’s the celebrity chef dinners, the book club, the bridge club, the Margaritas for Señoritas event that lets women get a taste of the game on the range with no intimidation. Social events have become the glue that lets the club go way beyond golf.
“We design experiences for members that they can’t get on their own,” says Inman.
The opening of the club pool in 2010, says Inman, “turned the tide in terms of being able to connect with the whole family.”
To Inman, a club is a place for people to make connections, and everybody does that in different ways. Some come to connect in their professional lives. With so many tech industries on the Eastside, many members and their families, newcomers to the area, join to meet others.
“People make their friendships here,” said Inman. “Their kids do. Whether it’s through business associates, whether it’s where they live, their lifestyle, golf or family activities, we work hard to maintain the connection.”
• You can learn more about the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge at http://www.tpcsr.com.
A young TPC family member gets an autograph from a visiting Sounders player.
Snoqualmie Valley artist (and regular TPC art partner) Dick Burhans unveils new sepia paintings at the entrance to the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, with new general manager Shelly Inman. The event celebrates the anniversary of the club’s opening day in 1999.
A youthful Boeing Classic volunteer rolls up to the clubhouse at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. The Classic is showcase for a more social, family-oriented club.
The Margaritas for Senioritas event helps women get introduced to the game without intimidation.