The Polar Bear Plunge, a dip into the club’s 47-degree pool on New Year’s Day, is just one of the instant hits added to Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va.’s annual calendar.
Creating a genuine, year-round family atmosphere for a club and expanding its range of recreational amenities brings a responsibility to also seek to extend what can be offered to members and guests beyond the traditional operating seasons.
Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va. has always been a leader in finding inventive ways to bring nontypical country club sports and events to its members in all age groups—and only added to that momentum with two new events that proved to be instant hits and will now be permanent parts of the club’s annual calendar.
That calendar will now always kick off with the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, which was introduced this year after being conceived as a way to help generate excitement for a new social calendar in an otherwise slow time of year, while also creating a new Farmington tradition.
Success was achieved on both counts. Marketed by word-of-mouth through Farmington’s swim club members and social committee, as well as by posters and e-mail blasts to the membership at large, the first-ever Plunge drew 130 members of all ages. Priced at $12 to provide a sense of value and also a good jump-start for a new event, many of those in attendance took advantage of the opportunity to have the fee waived by running into the unheated, 47-degree pool. For their brave (brazen?) behavior, they were also rewarded with bragging rights, immortalized with their names on a photo plaque that will be hung permanently by the pool.
Those who didn’t dive in still got into the spirit by coming in costume and enjoying a bar that was set up, along with casual seating, around fire pits and heaters. Sliders and other grill snacks were provided, and outdoor music added to the festive mood. Farmington also made sure that two lifeguards and all necessary first-aid equipment were on hand.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, the club reports, with many members already talking about next year’s plunge almost as soon (but after first grabbing towels and robes) as they emerged from their “refreshing” dip.
For a new fall event, held in the evening starting at 5 p.m., Farmington contracted with a laser-tag company to provide equipment for games on the property’s North Lawn. The club’s maintenance staff also got into the spirit, helping to set up hay forts to be used as “pop up” bunkers.
The event was billed as a family event—and 90 members, ranging from ages 5 to 45, came out to participate in 15-minute laser tag games on the North Lawn. The cost was set at $17 for two 15-minute games and light snacks. Enough light was provided from tree lights and the clubhouse to provide a safe and fun atmosphere for play until 9 p.m.
The “Camo at the Clubhouse” event proved to be another low-cost family affair that got “everybody outside for exercise disguised as fun,” says Clubhouse Manager Tyler Pickens. It was also profitable, because it proved to be “very social for the adult members, who enjoyed cocktails and small talk at a member-signed bar while their children played laser tag. Then many of the members went to the Grill restaurant for dinner after the event, which further increased club revenue.”