Forty-five years ago, when the Metcalfe Golf Club was founded, it would have been hard to imagine all that would take place at the club in the years ahead. Especially what the place represents in 2021.
Sure, it has been an unusual past year and that has changed how people have had to partake in the sport of golf due to new safety protocols, but through it all the team at the club south of Ottawa has stuck to their core principles. They put service to their customers first above all else, and, with the charm of people that feel more like friends than strangers, create a connection between you and the club during your visits that makes you want to return again and again.
To say it has become a key business in the community would be a huge understatement. Owners Tom & Gloria Welch, along with Partner/General Manager Rob Howell & team, has done their continued best to not only operate a business, but also find ways in which they can return the community support they receive.
That has included more than $150,000 raised for The Osgoode Care Centre from the long-running Metcalfe Charity Classic, over $400,000 for Make-a-Wish of Eastern Ontario with the Playing It Forward for Wishes committee, and hundreds of initiatives of other gestures and events over decades that have bonded them to the area.
It is mutual relationship that has only become stronger in the past year. In the time of a pandemic, the Metcalfe Golf Club team adapted quickly, was proactive in their handling of new procedures, and made all who came up their driveway feel as though they were in as safe of an environment as possible to enjoy a game they love.
That might be a tough task in normal times, but in 2020 golf participation was bursting at the seams. No worries, the club adapted and at the same time, is continuing to push forward to become the best 27-hole golf facility they can be.
“We were pretty happy with the systems and protocols we had in place last year,” shares Howell about how things will look in the year ahead. “We’ve added a more permanent outdoor check-in structure to the parking lot area. Not only was it safe to be outside but it proved to be extremely efficient as well.”
The newly developed systems for doing things at the course due to the pandemic have, in some senses, led to some some positives. Pre-paid rounds and purchases can easily be done online, and members and league players all have accounts where they can address many things.
“Metcalfegolf.com always has our best rates; you can book and pay right there, online. With the golf boom, we are still focused on offering the things we have in the past – in terms of memberships, leagues and ten, twenty, and thirty game packs,” says the always cheerful Manager.
It all adds up to be better prepared to move forward this year with a lot of great things in place. Already stellar service becomes even more so.
“The approach we took last year to make everything as safe as it could be; once that was accomplished, we focused on adding and expanding services, without losing all the things people expect and like about Metcalfe,” Howell explains.
He says that even when they had to reduce their popular Hickories restaurant menu from fifty items to about twenty, they made sure that their offerings were high-quality and that their specials (for take-away and the patio when open) are unique and different.
The popular Golf Leagues at Metcalfe resumed June 1st, 2020 and will return in May this year. They are at capacity for those, and the club is also looking forward to hosting events again. Packages have been created for 2021 around the successful protocols developed last season and Rob welcomes inquiries for those. They include food and beverage options to-go, with food stations on-course, and group-only table service. Exactly what F&B options that can be offered we depend on public health guidelines at the time of the event.
For 2021, once retail sales are permitted, golfers will once again see the club provide private shopping by appointment in the fireplace room, although Rob says they have added increased stock levels to meet demand. Shoppers will find items with a new logo for the 45th anniversary. They will also be able to participate in what Rob expects will be a week-long celebration of that birthday later this summer.
In many senses, celebrating the mark brings them full circle. Yes, the course and amenities have grown, but even four and half decades later, its essence remains, on purpose.
Rob is not shy about sharing who they are and being true to that. “It’s laid-back, it’s country. You are always going to get a smile from the staff every time you come. Even though it is busy, we just want to make sure people still get that personal service and greeting. We can’t lose sight of the all the things we were doing before the pandemic, just because golf is booming.”
As Howell concludes a look back on what made their club grow as it has, starting in 1976 to now, he boils it all down to a single remark.
“Service, experience and course and facility improvements always have been a focus for us, and always will be.”
Any golfer would agree, that sounds like a sound basis for success. That is likely why Metcalfe Golf Club continues to be a staple for those in their community, and beyond.