Don’t think of it like an old-school country club so much as a family-friendly environment for leisurely activities. At least, that’s how leaders of this new-school attraction sees things.
Kent Instefjord’s goal is to break the mold of what a club is all about. As the general manager of Beloit Club, he constantly looks for new ways to provide more fun.
In addition to the 24,000 square-foot facility, 18-hole golf course, family-friendly pool and exceptional dining, Beloit Club members enjoy many fun, “untraditional” amenities on Beloit Club’s spacious property.
“I think a lot of clubs have suffered because they’ve been slow to adapt to what people are looking for,” Instefjord says. “The old days of going to a club on the weekends and spending the whole day there, playing golf, eating, drinking – that just doesn’t happen anymore. And so, you have to step back and ask what it is people want.”
To Instefjord, the answer is obvious and simple: people want to have fun. But the problem is, there are plenty of options for how to have fun during a weekend’s leisure time.
So, to attract members, Instefjord offers events and amenities that clubs don’t typically extend. Foot Golf occurs every Sunday. The golf shop offers non-golf apparel. Happy hours, drink specials, dice boxes in the pub – there’s a plethora of unconventional offerings at Beloit Club. Walking through the doors, louder-than-normal modern music is playing over the speakers.
Instefjord’s experience managing several world-class venues over the past 25 years, including Whistling Straits Golf Course in Sheboygan, Wis., and Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis., has taught him to pick up on what club members want.
“We don’t wait for people to just magically appear,” Instefjord says. “I listen to our front lines, the employees who interact the most with our guests, and we deliver on the changes and improvements that people hope to see.”
The original Country Club of Beloit was established in 1909. But, like many clubs, it faced financial challenges due to declining membership and increasing competition.
In 2014, Diane Hendricks, a successful businesswoman and philanthropist, purchased the struggling country club with ambitions to reinvigorate it. Over the past two years, Hendricks has done just that. The Country Club of Beloit is gone. Beloit Club is here.
Hendricks’ vision is already taking effect. Currently, Beloit Club has 350 members, 75 of whom joined in this calendar year. Beyond Beloit, members come from Rockford, Janesville, Lake Geneva and points in betweeen.
“Beloit Club is a reflection of what the community is all about,” Instefjord says. “Beloit is about being progressive, while still holding true to the history of the community. The Club reflects that, as we still have the same property from well over 100 years ago, but it’s enhanced and modernized.”
Various levels of membership are available to the community. Full membership allows access to all amenities – golf, swimming, dining, bocce ball and more. A dining membership offers simply that – access to exceptional dining at the Standard Tavern and dining room, run by classically trained chef Jeff King.
Serving upscale American fare, King is constantly refining his focus to provide what members are looking for.
“Jeff brings a lot of experience and is able to adapt,” Instefjord says. “He has the ability to put together great banquet menus and run an event with 300 people, while offering a menu that members enjoy.”
All members have access to extra events that Beloit Club hosts throughout the year, and even non-members can rent Beloit Club spaces for weddings, corporate events and more.
Instefjord thinks the picturesque golf course setting is what attracts a lot of non-member attention for hosting events, in addition to amenities such as valet parking, a wide range of lighting options and the ability to accommodate almost any type of entertainment.
“You know, the golf course setting is very intriguing to a lot of people,” Instefjord says. “It’s nature. It’s beautiful. Even when there’s snow on the ground, it’s still a very nice setting. The building is grand in nature and complements the golf course well. It’s different from a typical conference center or big wedding venue.”
The golf course has undergone major maintenance since Hendricks bought the property. The course is abundant with new bunkers (sand traps) and all new tee boxes, while the removal of more than 500 trees has brought more sunshine and better air circulation to the turf. The tree removal also affords some incredible views of the clubhouse that simply didn’t exist before.
As a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), Instefjord finds that Beloit Club’s golf course is well-balanced for both skilled and beginner players. There are enough tee boxes to prevent a beginner from becoming overwhelmed, but the new bunkers provide a challenge for more advanced golfers.
“We actually have four PGA members on staff, which for a facility this size, is almost unheard of,” Instefjord says. “To attract that kind of talent to a smaller area says a lot about this club. It goes back to how this is a fun place to be, and that attracts top talent. Head Golf Professional Milton Kodl has served the former club as both head golf professional and general manager. Travis Becker, the 2015 Wisconsin PGA Instructor of the Year, joined the club in early 2016 and has had a full slate of lessons ever since. The club’s newest addition is Mike Tabbert, former Head Golf Professional at Glen Erin Golf Club, in Janesville.”
The PGA staff members will soon be busy year-round, as Hendricks plans to open an indoor golf facility in downtown Beloit’s Ironworks Campus. Simulators, instruction and putting greens will be available for member and public use year-round.
Instefjord takes pride in the full gamut of compliments that he receives from club members and hopes that members and non-members alike take pride in what Beloit Club offers the community.
It’s not uncommon for him to hear praise about Beloit Club’s upgrades and changes.
“Members tell me that the golf course has never been in better condition, the food is fantastic, they love the service, and of course they love the new amenities and the new clubhouse and all that goes along with them,” Instefjord says. “The fact that when you walk around, you can see the pride on the members’ faces – that’s the nicest thing for me. It’s great to be able to see the members happy and proud to showcase what’s here to their friends.”
Looking to the future, Hendricks intends to continue the progress of making Beloit Club the best private club in the area. According to Instefjord, she believes it’s a necessary facility for Beloit.
“I think that whether you’re a member or not a member, the community should be very proud of what this facility is – that it’s friendly, it’s not stuffy, and it’s a great place to enjoy yourself,” Instefjord says. “I would love that non-members look forward to being invited as guests, that it would be a special treat, because Beloit Club is a fun place to be.”