[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
When Standard Country Club was founded in 1873, the Jewish club was established on a typical model. Since that time the club has added golf, tennis and swimming to its amenities. In order to use club facilities, you had to be a member of the club. Your membership entitled you to use any of the club facilities and only full memberships were offered.
Through the years, the club grew and changed. It relocated twice and survived a major flood and a fire. Today’s Standard Club, located off Highway 22, has an Olympic-size swimming pool, an 18-hole golf course, clay tennis courts and a privately stocked fishing lake. The property also has a large clubhouse with dining facilities.
The way people use country clubs today is also changing, and Standard Club, like most country clubs in Louisville, is facing trying times. Paying dues to belong to a multifaceted facility is expensive. People are looking for clubs that cater to their specific interests and are willing to offer a la carte service.
“We listened to our members and people in the community,” said Club Pro Mike Riley. So, “we are creating a customized country club.”
“The days of joining a traditional country club are on their way out,” he continued, “so we’re reacting to the current business environment. We’re trying to be proactive and create a business model that will sustain Standard Country Club for a long time to come.”
Standard Club is open for business this summer, and it is offering its members a choice. People can purchase golf- only memberships, swimming-only memberships or a combination of tennis and swimming memberships.
The biggest change is in the clubhouse. “Use of the clubhouse has declined through the years,” Riley said, so, “at least on a temporary basis, the dining operation in the clubhouse will be shut down.” The club’s management is looking for “other ways to utilize the dining space, but have not finalized anything as of yet.” The locker rooms, he added, remain open.
Riley stressed that any functions that have already been booked will be honored, but the club is not accepting reservations for any new events.
“These were not the easiest decisions to be made,” Riley stated, “but we feel strongly they are decisions that had to be made to be fiscally responsible for our members.”
“The majority of our members are in overwhelming support of the decision,” he said, although he recognized that some members used the facility primarily for its dining facilities, and they are disappointed. Riley expressed confidence that the closure is temporary and that “something else will be born out of this clubhouse in the future.”
“The response from the local neighborhood with pool membership has been very good,” Riley reported. “Once word gets out about what we’re offering … [this plan] will change the landscape for other clubs in the city. This is the direction other clubs will be going and hopefully we’ll be setting the stage for it.”
“The Board and staff put this plan together,” he said, “in hopes that it will lay a plan for a long life for Standard Country Club. We’ve been around since 1873 and want to see it around for another 140 years.”