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Rye Golf Club projects membership increase

The Rye Golf Club is expecting to surpass last year’s membership count with early numbers showing an increase in enrollment, according to a member of the golf commission.

The club has an additional 29 members on a year to date comparison from mid-May of this year to the same time last year, with added potential for more to enroll in the coming months, according to Jim Buonaiuto, the golf club’s general manager.

Of the 1,244 total membership accounts through May 15 of this year, 63 members are new to the club, which bodes well for golf club officials.

“I cannot say with any degree of certainty that we will exceed last year’s count,” said Buonaiuto, who explained that new members continuously sign up and often don’t join the club until after the school year ends. “[But], what I can say with certainty is that we are trending ahead.”

Mack Cunningham, the vice chairman of the Rye Golf Club Commission, said the club is expecting to exceed last year’s membership count with early figures showing an increase in enrollment. File photo

Last year, the golf club enrolled a total of 1,373 members, 50 accounts short from 2015.

That drop in membership last year was likely due to the club closing its golf course greens for three months during the summer of 2015 as a result of tainted pesticide applied by Chip Lafferty, the groundskeeper. After the incident, the golf club offered a discounted membership to retain its accounts; however, membership never quite recovered.

Mack Cunningham, the vice chairman of the Rye Golf Club Commission, told the Review that with the additional enrollment coming in early this year, the club is definitely expecting to get back on track for a positive season and surpass last year’s membership total.

“The [golf commission] is pleased by the fact that the club is now continuously attracting new members,” he said, adding that the amount of sign-ups the club has at this point puts everything into perspective. “Based on the fact that we don’t get a lot of enrollment in golf [in general], your headcount after school ends should be higher. People tend to enroll late for the pool.”

Cunningham said the increased enrollment comes as a result of several capital improvements made to the club recently.

Last August, the Rye City Council approved spending $670,000 from the golf club’s unreserved fund on creating a new practice green and tee area to the club’s course, and an expansion of the 18th green and 16th tee. The practice green and tee area projects have since been completed.

Additionally, in March, the City Council authorized using $825,000 in unreserved funds for six separate capital improvements to the club, consisting of a continuation of last year’s greens expansion, drainage installments, bridge repairs, and a replacement of the current irrigation system, amongst a number of other items that are expected to begin in the fall.

Some of the club’s smaller repairs, such as the bridge repairs, have already been completed. However, the larger projects are planned to begin after the golf season is over.

“I think members reflected on the improvements made last year,” Cunningham said. “[The improvements] were a reason to come back.”

Cunningham noted that the club hasn’t raised rates in five years, and that has also contributed to membership renewals.

For residents, a comprehensive membership costs $4,500 per year and includes access to the club’s pool; an individual daily golf membership costs $3,100. For non-residents, the comprehensive membership costs $8,000, as of press time.

Councilman Terry McCartney, a Republican and liaison to the golf commission, could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

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