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'All-in-one' country club still in high demand

Sudbury's Idylwylde Golf and Country Club makes it easy to book events

Nestled in the heart of Sudbury sits a country club that has served the city's celebration needs for nearly a century.

While the sign at Idylwylde Golf and Country Club says "members only," anyone who books an event automatically becomes a member.

Over its history, the country club has been host to countless events ranging from golf tournaments to curling bonspiels, weddings, showers, retirements, business meetings and birthdays.

The year-round facility boasts an 18-hole golf course and five-sheet curling rink, along with two dining areas and a bar, kitchen, board room and balconies offering panoramic views of the course and Nepahwin Lake beyond. The back greens also offer up a view of Lake Ramsay.

The club has been a popular spot for events, said executive manager and chief operating officer Tom Arnott, for both its facilities and location, as well as the ease and low cost of booking and hosting.

“We want to make this an accessible place for anyone who wants to come out and enjoy our club,” he said.

When someone books an event, they automatically get a one-year social and dining membership, Arnott explained. They are charged the annual fee of $450, which allows them access to the clubhouse and they can play five rounds of golf that year, with additional green fees.

Sasha Bruno, food and beverage manager, said the club is extremely popular for weddings, with the club booked into 2020 for summer weddings. However, between January and March, it can be slow, so the club's management is seeking ways to attract weekend events.

“During the week we have regular programming for members, like games and brunches, but Saturdays and Sundays are usually open for us and we want to let people know this is a great place to book an event like showers, birthdays or meetings,” she said.

She added, overall, they still have some of the lowest prices in the city, when membership perks are factored in, as well as a great location and ample parking.

A popular spot to host outdoor weddings is the Peninsula ceremony venue on the shores of Nepahwin Lake.

Bruno said it is one of the city's few all-in-one venues for weddings. Idylwylde can host the ceremony, pictures and reception all in one place rather than splitting the group while the wedding party poses for their pictures.

“There have been many times when wedding guests will come to the bar in between the ceremony and pictures,” she said. “They can enjoy a drink and sit on the balconies or the patio, which I think we have the best ones in the city. It's a big seller for us.”

They also provide carts for outdoor wedding guests.

There are daily and weekly dining and entertainment offerings beyond golf and curling. Every Friday there is live entertainment starting at 5 p.m.

During the summer golfers can enjoy the outdoor fire pit on the patio.

They also have a full-service kitchen serving meals made in house. Arnott said the regular menu is “roadhouse style” with burgers, wings and salads. They have menus for special events as well.

Another popular natural feature is the beach and dock. Arnott explained the beach is not utilized as it once was, but still a great place for people to cool off or enjoy a quiet summer day.

“Because of environmental legislation, we can't put sand down to stop the weeds like we used to,” he said. “We still have members that go there to jump off the dock.”

The Idylwylde is the only golf club in the city that has water access as well. In the past, before road access was added, taking a water taxi was the only way members could get to the club.

“We have about 26 members that live on Nepahwin Lake and they take their boats here,” Arnott said. “They leave their clubs here, pull up to the dock, and come already dressed for golfing.”

The country club is a non-profit organization, which works to the advantage of those wishing to book an event and become a member. Arnott explained the club's non-profit designation means they can only make 10 per cent of their profits from non-member events, which are mostly Thursday golf tournaments.

There are other advantages to being a non-profit organization. Because they cannot have a lot of cash leftover, the organization is constantly spending it on improvements to the course and facility, as well as other incentives for members.

“It allows us to offer more to our members and maintain current services because we don't have a bottom line to be concerned with,” Arnott said.

Much of the funds were spent on the greens, but attention is now turning to the 1960s-era clubhouse facility, will undergo accessibility improvements, slated to be in place by 2025.